On Overcoming the Hurdle of Tryout Uncertainty

Placing 2nd after a very tough weekend of tournament play

This is for the parents and guardians of young athletes worried about whether or not their child is ready for Premier.

The ones who wonder if their child is good enough.

I am going to get candid.

As the adult in a child’s life, sometimes we look at the vast landscape of decisions that are required of us, and we come upon one that seems a little harder than the others.

This might sound corny, but for me, it was whether or not to encourage my son to take the leap from rec soccer to competitive soccer. Now, some parents I have spoken to said that they knew their child was ready to take that next step, citing their child's success on their rec teams.

That is not my story.

My son was not at all a star soccer player; the number one player on his rec team. He worked hard, had a great attitude, but was not fast, had a stockier build, and was overlooked on several occasions by coaches because of those attributes.

Honestly, after one disastrous year, we were going to take him out of soccer; however, in one of those weird twists of fate, he asked to do one more year after his good friend begged him to be on his team.

We signed him up for one more year of rec soccer.

It changed the trajectory of his story.

His team was not great, but not terrible. One of those middle of the road teams. And the coach appreciated my son’s good attitude and work ethic. We breathed easier. However, this coach had his eye on a higher level of play. He started talking about having some of his players try out for SKSC’s competitive program the following year.

I worried. The gulf between where my son was as a soccer player, and this competitive program seemed insurmountable.

My son was also worried. Nervous he wouldn’t be good enough. Listing all those things that he’d heard off hand through the years about his speed and his build. We were balancing the pros and cons. Making lists.

Then. Covid happened, and tryouts were cancelled. Anyone who wanted to move to the competitive program, could. And, we thought, why not? The worst that could have happened was that he hated it and wanted to walk away.

I was nervous. And at first, it absolutely felt like I had made the wrong decision. He was pushed harder than he had ever been pushed athletically. There were some very tough moments, a pretty steep learning curve, but he worked hard and then, quicker than I thought possible, he started to succeed.

This is not a story of rags to riches. My son has grown into a soccer athlete over the last two years, but he is not the one out there looking like the traditional success story making goals and being the star. That doesn’t matter though, because he grew as an athlete, better on that soccer pitch than I ever thought possible, and something else happened as well.

I, as in the parent, also grew.

I started to better understand what it meant to be a soccer player. To be part of a team. The importance of hard work and showing up and having that good attitude.

And the rewards for my son, even with the ups and downs and doubts and tears and wins and losses, have been numerous. Perhaps we wouldn’t have made the decision to push tryouts if Covid hadn't happened, and perhaps he would be now playing a different sport.

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that if you are that adult in a child’s life, struggling with this decision of try outs and Premier and going to a more competitive program… wondering if your child is ready or not… all I can do is encourage you to have them try.

It might not be a good fit. This is true.

But it might be a much better fit than you’d ever imagined.

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