Here’s to Hamburg United

As the World Cup kicks into full gear, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate my favorite soccer team – Hamburg United Red.

Last fall when we uprooted our kids from the place where they grew up in pursuit of God’s call on our lives, we looked for some ways to make life easier since we knew they were going to face some new challenges.  Before we even moved to Brighton/Hamburg last fall we tried to find an opportunity for Lindsay to play soccer.  She had only played in rec leagues before, so she wanted to try a travel league.  We made a call to the Hamburg league – could they add a player?  The answer was yes, provided the child was a girl and a U14 player.  Lindsay was both.

So began Lindsay’s travel league experience.  She received an official uniform – one that didn’t have a sponsors name plastered in huge letters across the front.  It was a nice red and white Adidas jersey along with some huge shorts.  She even got to pick her own number (who but Lindsay would pick a number like 43 for soccer?).   She was ready to play for Hamburg United.

Hamburg United was not a strong  team.  In the fall season they tied one game.  In the winter season they managed to win two games. This past spring they didn’t win any.  (It didn’t help that their goalie totaled her ACL in the first practice of the spring.)  But it didn’t really matter because it was Lindsay’s best year of soccer ever.  She had a great coach who made things fun – and she had some great teammates who played hard every game and never quit.  Better yet, they remained a team.  They never rode each other, never got upset with each other when mistakes were made, and never felt sorry for themselves.  They went out every game and competed.

Last night was their end-of-the-year pool party.  It was their last time to all be together.  Hamburg United is breaking up.  Some are moving up to U15.  Others will be playing in other leagues.  I think the girls were all sad.  It has been an incredible year for those girls, and for Lindsay especially.

She made 15 friends.  She got to play soccer for the right reason – for the love of the game.  She discovered that she didn’t have to win to have fun.  She got to play a ton of soccer.  She improved her game.  And she’s become a big buddy with a teammate who lives just a few houses away.

I think this is the point of youth sports – to learn teamwork, to improve your skills, to compete, to create memories that will last a life time, to make friends, and to have fun!

Yep, Lindsay is sad – sad that her very imperfect season is over.  But I’m not sure how imperfect her season really was.  I think it was pretty much the opposite.

Here’s to Hamburg United!

3 Days

Since the last time I had a 3-day weekend was in the middle of February, and since the final day of that weekend was spent driving the 8 hours from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Brighton, Michigan I was determined to get the most out of last weekend.  And I’m feeling pretty good about how it went.

Saturday morning Kelly and I headed to downtown Brighton to the farmer’s market.  Evidently there aren’t very many farmers in Brighton as there were only two vegetable stands – but there were several flower stands, jewelry stands, and tacky craft stands. We opted for the Harvest bread store, instead.  Kelly ordered an iced coffee and a piece of bread; I ordered a chocolate chip cookie (a really great mid-morning snack).  The girl handed me the coffee and started to walk away.  I had to remind her that I still needed to pay and that Kelly had also asked for a piece of bread.  Deciding to be content with her getting the piece of bread for Kelly, I just let the cookie idea pass.  Sigh.

After milling around town for the next hour or so we headed to the English Gardens nursery where we bought a rose bush for the back yard.  Back at home Kelly planted the bush and worked to create a new flower bed while I ripped out bushes and mowed the lawn and got into a water fight with the kids who were supposedly washing the car.

Saturday night we ate out on the deck and received a text message from Grandma who was taunting us by showing us a picture of the swimming pool that she was enjoying – and that we were missing.  Not very nice.  Returning evil for evil we texted her a picture of our awesome meal – then we headed to Putterz in Ypsilanti where yours truly won, followed by Allie, Lindsay, Luke and one other member of the family that I won’t mention because I don’t want to embarrass her.  And we texted Grandma a picture of that, too.  Then we headed to the Washtenaw Dairy

for some ice cream – except for Luke who doesn’t like ice cream but who was quite excited to find that the store sold white cheddar popcorn and lemonade.  Yep, we texted another picture to Grandma to show her what she was missing.  Then on the way home we saw a sign for “Aaron’s party” so we all got out and took a picture of that, too, to remind Grandma how much fun we were having without her.  (Don’t tell her that we really didn’t crash the party – we just took the picture.)

Sunday morning was church.  Sunday afternoon all the girls went shopping while I took a nap.  And the dog only woke me up twice.  Then after dinner Kelly and I headed for Kensington Metro Park and walked about 5 miles along Kent Lake.  It was beautiful.

Monday morning we hopped in the van and drove to Grand Rapids (the place of my birth – you probably didn’t need to know that but the trip left me feeling somewhat sentimental) to meet the grandparents (the ones who don’t send mean text pictures)  at a Jonny B’z Dogs and More, a brand new restaurant venture recently undertaken by two people who always inspire me with their faith, and that I am kind of related to – Jon and Ginger Goad.  I ordered a BBQ brisket sandwich which was phenomenal and Kelly ordered what she called the best hot dog she’s ever eaten.  So the next time you are in southeast Grand Rapids…

Later, Kelly and I headed for Borders where I spent a long time trying to figure out what book to buy with my 40% off coupon and my 2-year-old gift card which still had $2.86 left on it.  Then we capped off the weekend playing Rook and Dutch Blitz with the kids.  I can’t tell you who won because we didn’t keep score – and yes, I think that’s kind of lame, too.

And that was the best three days I’ve had in a long time.

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