Dear Jack: Your 1st Soccer Game as the Goalie

6 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Tuesday evening as we were leaving your soccer practice, I heard your coach confirm to you, “Alright Jack, I’m putting you in as goalie for Saturday’s game. You know what to do, right?”

You were humbly thrilled to know that you would finally get to be the goalie. Honestly, I had no idea you were interested in playing that position. But it turns out that you were interested enough that you proactively asked your coach if you could play goalie.

I had noticed during practice that you were playing goalie, but I figured it was just standard for the coach to give turns to all the players. But no, you had specifically asked him.

Of all weekends for Nonna and Papa to be in town from Alabama, this past Saturday was it. They got to see you play your newest position. You loved being goalie!

I was particularly also impressed by the fact when you weren’t playing goalie during the game, there were two different times in which you led the ball down the field towards the goal.

It’s so cool being able to see how you truly enjoy playing soccer and being a part of your team.

Of course, it helps that you and your best friend Duncan are on the same team, the Red Wolves. The two of you have literally been friends since the womb, as our families were in Lamaze class together back in the fall of 2010.

Soccer is a really good thing for you. Not only does it help you burn off plenty of energy, but I can see the way it undeniably builds confidence in you. And I appreciate how it teaches you the importance of playing as part of a team.

You were an only child for so long, so being a star runner and occasionally goalie on the Red Wolves is a great thing for you!



Dear Jack: Your 1st Soccer Game as a 1st Grader

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that the summer has come to an end, so have violin lessons. And you decided you wanted to go straight into playing soccer now that the school year has begun.  It helps that you and your best friend Duncan, from your Kindergarten class last year, were able to get on the same soccer team.

So this past Saturday, our family drove out to the YMCA field in Spring Hill and watched you place your first game. It was amazing to see the difference, compared to when you played soccer 2 years ago in Pre-K.

You actually chase and kick the ball now! Wow!

And not just you, but all the other kids actually play the game too. Two years ago, it wasn’t this way at all. Back then, it was just a bunch of almost 5 year-olds standing on the field, looking at the feet in the grass.

But now, there’s actually something for your parents to watch you and your teammates do!

You actually gave Mommy and me a reason to keep yelling, “Go Jack! Kick it!” I felt like a legitimate soccer dad.

This was your sister Holly’s first time getting to see a soccer game. Since her skin is so fair, and since there was no shade, Mommy had me stand up and block the sun, casting a shadow on Holly as she watched the game from Mommy’s chair.

I definitely saw a little bit of irony in that; as if I were a big guy, which I am not. Oh well, the plan worked anyway. By the end of the game, your sister wasn’t quite as pink she would have been otherwise.

We enjoyed watching you play your first soccer game as a 1st grader.

Plus, I love the fact you’re getting to not only burn off all that energy you have on Saturday mornings, but also you’re getting to use your brain.

The game is pretty simple, though; for a bunch of 1st graders. Really, the main thing is just knowing which way to kick the ball. That’s all you really have to worry about right now.




This is 36: I Got the “I’m Not a Soccer Dad” Haircut

I should start by acknowledging that I honestly never expected to still have this much hair by the time I was age 36. Subconsciously, since high school, I had just always assumed that by the time I was in my mid 30s and was married and had 2 kids, I would be lucky to still even have a decent island of real estate up there.

Because that’s just what happens to men. I suppose I’ve just always simply viewed men’s hair loss as a common trait of masculinity.

Like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Like Bald Bull on Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Like Mr. Clean.

There’s no shame in it. In fact, it’s weird to me that some men, like Ronald Reagan and Tony Danza and Anthony Bourdain, never lost their hair.

What is normal is for a man to lose his hair, not keep it.

And even now, it’s only a matter of time; a question of how many years until I lose so much hair that I do the cool thing and just shave my head for the rest of my life. I am so prepared for this!

Yet strangely, I still have hair. For now.

For me, the danger of being a married, 36 year-old father of 2 who still has hair, is that I could fall in danger of being labelled as a “soccer dad.”

While I’m sure to many, the term soccer dad is a term of endearment and not a negative one, for me, it’s a concept I’m resisting.

Like wearing khaki pants with New Balance running shoes. No thanks.

I fully embrace and celebrate my age of 36. But for me, I don’t want to get stuck in a certain year of my life. I believe in continually reinventing myself. That’s psychologically important to who I am as a person.

And that’s why I decided to make 2017 the year of the “I’m Not a Soccer Dad” Hairstyle.

It’s basically a longer version of a crew cut, as it’s longer in the front (2 inches) than it is in the back. What makes this hairstyle particularly edgy and trendy, is the “disconnected” part on the side:

Where my hair is parted, there is no fade from the 2 inch length on top to the #4 guard (and #2) on the sides and back, which comes up pretty high.

No one is going to call me a soccer dad looking like this.

As Bruce Springsteen once said, “I’m a cool rockin’ daddy in the U.S.A.”

This is 36.