Tending to a Soft Heart – Lessons from my Daughter’s 1st Select Tournament
My daughter, Kylie is in her first year of select soccer. This journey to this point has been a whirlwind. She played soccer one year on a team with friends when a coach asked her to come over to his team. We’ve seen kids work for years for this honor. One of our boys didn’t make it when that move up time came and many of his peers went on with out him. We’ve seen both sides. And we are thankful for this opportunity for her.
This past weekend she played in a tournament with her team. It was their first real games together, outside of some scrimmages for practice. They played so well they made it to the final play off game to determine the winning team in their age group. The team they had to come back up against was the only team that beat them in the three day tournament. And they were tough opposition. They’d played together for four years and had the added benefit of knowing each other’s strengths well.
When Kylie came in to the game in her position as defender, she was on her A-game! She was killing it! I ask her before every game, “what are you?” And she responds back with, “I’m a wall. Nothing gets past me.” It’s our thing. She was stopping balls right and left, playing aggressively, clearing balls from the goal box, when suddenly — in one play she and a player got tangled up when they ran for the ball. Kylie went for a high kick and some how cleated the other little girl in the face and they both came tumbling down. The girl cried from the hurt and shock of it. Then the half time whistle blew and they went off the field to break.
The entire second half we waited for Kylie to go back in. We wondered if she was hurt. We got mad at her coach… only to find out after the game she didn’t go back in because she felt so bad that she hurt the little girl. The coach tried to get her to go in, but she sat and cried for a while for her opponent, long after she herself was back in the game. And then when Kylie was ready to get back in, she didn’t know how to tell her coach.
After talking it through with Kylie, a few valuable lessons were impressed upon her heart. One – she needs to speak up and tell her coach when she’s ready to go back in. Two – she needs to shake off moments like that and get back in the game for her team. They needed her. Knowing her heart, she needs to give herself grace; she wouldn’t intentionally take someone out. People will get hurt. It’s part of the game. Regroup and get back in the game. Three – she has an amazing heart and I would rather have this issue and train it up then have a little girl who wants to win at all costs even if it means hurting the opposition. We see players like that. Neither she, nor her team, play that way.
But as I pondered it, I couldn’t help but wonder — when do we lose that tender softness when we cause others pain? How is it that as we get older we can intentionally or unintentionally cause others harm and so easily let it go, cover it up, excuse it, gloss over it, or point the finger elsewhere?
I love my daughters tender heart. I’ll take it any day. And I’ll do my best to treasure it, keep it safe, train it up, and love everything about that sweet innocent spirit she has.