I couldn’t have been more correct (if I do say so myself) to call Tryouts the scariest ride of the summer based on my own families past experiences. If asked, I’d name it the Emotional Rollercoaster.
First of all, the tension and worry in the week before is there for all but the most confident players and their families. Last post I talked about how to minimize it, but it’s still a stressful time. Due to that, it’s pretty common for a kid to get sick, break an arm, or have his first seizure the day before tryouts. I know one of mine once actually fell out of her seat in math and scratched up her arm and twisted her ankle the day of tryouts….Geez, like I don’t have enough to worry about, now I have to worry about math injuries?! One year my son had a broken thumb during tryouts from doing back handsprings at the gym the week before. Fortunately thumbs aren’t necessary in soccer. I saw quite a few pink and blue casts this week, all arms thankfully. If your child has a major injury or illness (broken leg, torn cartilage, acl tear, spinal meningitis, etc) and can’t tryout, s/he should still show up, talk to the coach if you haven’t already. If he’s a known player to the club, they may still place you on the proper team. If you are new to the club you may be screwed for the year.
Next are the actual tryouts themselves….not much stress for parents IF you’ve followed my instructions in the previous post and gone to the mall (or the gym) each night (or BAR, how on earth did I forget that one?). But for your child, they feel tons of pressure. Every time they touch the ball, good or bad, they want to look to see if the coaches saw it and are writing all about it on their clipboards. Usually it seems every time a kid does something really amazing, the coaches’ backs are turned.
As the week (usually it’s 3 or 4 days) wears on, the kids are split into groups of somewhat equivalent players while the coaches watch them scrimmage, move them around into different positions; and over to different fields. There is nothing more ego-killing than being moved to a lower quality game while the coaches watch the top group. They also will pull some of the newer or ‘bubble’ kids up to the top group to see what they can do against the best. Again, not for the weak hearted. And this kind of maneuvering is a good reason not to ask for any details when the kid gets in the car….he’s still trying to wrap his head around it himself, if he wants to talk about it he will.
Now…back to a perfect example of a past emotional rollercoaster ride to hell and back. The boys (100 of them vying for 64 spots) are told on the last day or the tryouts that the 16 that will make the A-team (top team/best coach/best tournaments/best training that everyone wants) will be called next Tuesday night by 11:00pm. If you don’t get a call on Tuesday, you didn’t make the top team. The rest of you will get a call on the Friday or Saturday after that telling you whether you made a team and if so, which one (the B, C or D). So…..Tuesday night comes and goes (100 boys are on pins and needles, even the most confident boys who’ve always been on the top team) and NO calls are made (but of course they don’t know that). If it was a girls team, they’d be all calling each other and figure it out, but no…..14 year old boys are too cool for that. They all think they didn’t make the top team and are devastated. Calls go out to the top 16 the next day, and they ride to the top of the rollercoasters in their heads. But the damage has been done, they all know that feeling of failure, of not making it, of being 2nd best. Not a bad life lesson actually, but it was a horrible 24 hours for most (and the parents, too).