When my parents decided I should join a soccer team at the age of 6, I was less than thrilled. In fact, I hated it. I cried and asked if I could leave the team.
“Not yet,” my dad coaxed, as we practiced passing the ball in the backyard. “Just give it a few weeks.”
I stuck with it and, like my dad predicted, soccer soon became my favorite pastime. The following year, my dad volunteered to be a coach of Team USA, a youth girls’ soccer team that played in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. When I was 9, he became the head coach.Angie McPherson/Dearly
The size of our team waxed and waned over the years, but the core team played together for nearly 10 years. During that decade, our team became a family.
We often carpooled to practice, huddled together in the rain, spent nights on the road for tournaments, and held sleepovers at each other’s houses.
Importantly, our team had a group of soccer moms always ready to jump on the field if we needed a hand. They brought oranges, filled the water bottles, sat outside in the freezing rain, and hugged us after major losses.
The moms knew all of our cheers by heart and knew when to draw back on the criticism. They watched us grow up and cheered us up when we were down.
Looking back, I spent more time with my soccer team than I did with some extended family members. The other soccer parents took me in and treated me like their own. It wasn’t something expected or discussed, but it was felt and appreciated.Angie McPherson/Dearly
Even though I’ve been on other teams since, I never experienced anything as close as this one. Team USA disbanded a little over 10 years ago, but we’ve loosely kept in touch with each other.
My mom recently told me that one of my soccer moms had been diagnosed with a degenerative disorder. She spent most of her life supporting her family on the sidelines; now, she wants to travel the world before she can no longer see it.
Her sudden illness reminded me of just how much it meant to me to have a team of moms I could always count on for advice and support.
I wanted to take the opportunity to write an open thank you letter to all of the soccer moms out there cutting oranges and changing work schedules to make it out to games. You are appreciated:
To the moms standing on the sidelines,
We hear you during difficult games, we see you in the rain, and we appreciate your love often much more than we let on.
You might not be related, but you’re a part of my heart, my childhood, and my family.
I’ll never forget the years we spent sharing houses and growing together, learning from shared loss and achievement.
Thank you for raising the team and showing us what it means to care.
A former player
To Lisa P., Donna R., Kristen H., Lyn S., Karen D., Wanda T., Karen W., Debbie R., Debbie O., Donna C., Dianne R., Carolyn B., my dad, Coach Dan, Coach Bruce, Coach Greg, other soccer dads, and so many others — thank you for cheering us on.
You might’ve been the ones on the sidelines cheering us on, but I can promise we were certainly the bigger fans.