Our own Snake Plissken has shared that his daughter is playing on the US National Volleyball team competing in the Pan Am games (way cool). His casual mention in response to how she got on the team was a bit abbreviated to say the least. I thought it may be fun for others who have kids that play a sport at a high level share their experiences with the good, the bad, the time, the expense, the travel, the friendships, the drama, etc. Mods, I hope you can keep this here rather than moving to the game room since it is more about a lifestyle choice (no, I wasn’t born this way) than about a specific sport or team and could easily apply to band, dance, etc families. I also didn’t want to make this an “Ask The” thread (although I’m happy to answer) as I don’t want it to just be about my experiences… I’m interested to see if what Snake has experienced in competitive Volleyball is as all like what I have experienced in competitive Soccer.
I’ll try to start off fairly brief (not) but I could easily fill a book.
I have three kids… a daughter (Jr. in HS), a son (Freshman in HS), and another son (8th grade). The two oldest both play soccer on a national level (not to be confused with the US National teams though) in that they travel all over the country to compete and are consistently ranked in the top 20 or higher in the national rankings (highest were 4th and 6th respectively). My son is training on a team that is a feeder program for the MLS. My youngest plays Lacrosse which isn’t as popular here in the Midwest so his is more regional, but they are one of the top teams in the Midwest and they make at least one trip a year to the East Coast to play the top teams there (they often kill us). I’ll start by focusing on my experience with my daughter although all have been pretty similar (Lacrosse though seems to be taken a bit less seriously though).
Anyway, my daughter started playing at age 4 on a team at the YMCA moved to another recreational league a few years later and started travel/club play at 10. Last year the club moved to a new sanctioning body/league (Elite Club National League) and as a new club we were put in the B division. Her team won the national title this year and have moved up to the A division. My daughter although very small is very fast and plays starting forward. Last year she verbally committed to play Division 1 NCAA soccer for a private University under full scholarship. There realistically isn’t a professional career to bank on, but fortunately she is also very bright and picked the school she did because of their pre-med program.
Travel… we go all over. We are from central Indiana and are fortunate that the top club in the State happens to be local. There are other kids who drive in 2+ hour three nights a week to practice/play with our club. Some places we have been in the past year (off the top of my head) include Raleigh NC, Denver CO, Orlando FL, Green Bay WI, Zarapeth (?) NJ, St Louis MO, and countless trips to surrounding states anywhere from 2 to 5 hours drive away. Add my soccer son and you get Memphis TN, Birmingham AL, Davenport IA, Green Bay (I got a twofer with my daughter on this one), St Louis (different time than my daughter), and again countless shorter trips. The youngest took us to Detroit (oh yeah, now that I think about it my other two were both there as well at different times), Baltimore MD, and Traverse City MI, and again shorter trips to Cincinnati, Columbus, and Chicago.
Cost… way more than I want to think about, but this is our “hobby”. Club fees average about $750 per season and team fees are maybe around $500 (these are per kid in soccer, Lacrosse is less). Uniforms are around $250 but we wear them two years. Equipment… around $100 a pair which last a year or so. (LAX gear is more initially but most lasts a long time) Then there is Gas, Airfare, Hotel, Food on the road, Charter Bus, etc. All adds up. Current estimate is around $5k (per kid per year). Much less for LAX and when they were younger.
Training… the teams usually practice 3 times/week during the season (there really isn’t an off season anymore for soccer) for around 1.5-2 hours per session. Almost everyone does some private training at least once a week as well.
People… this is where I could write a book. We have made some great and very close friends through these sports. I’ve met people I probably would never have crossed paths with otherwise. I’ve also met some great and not so great kids. Coaches who are wonderful and some who are nuts. Of course there are also the extreme “soccer moms” (not limited to females) who are absolutely nuts. This group for better or worse (mainly better) is our social circle now.
I think I’ve gone long enough but I’d love to hear other people’s stories and am curious if their experiences are similar. And yes, you are welcome to chime in that we are all nuts and are living through our children and turning them into something horrible. I frequently believe the nuts part, but my kids all have one simple rule… the day it stops being fun we quit.