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I’ve said it in the past: “I hate soccer!”  I don’t think that was ever true, though.  Maybe I resented that soccer has replaced baseball as the sport that American kids grow up playing.   In some misguided mood of patriotism, I probably reacted to the encroachment of a “European sport” in our sporting culture.  Almost certainly I found watching it on TV a tad boring, so I expressed hate for the sport itself.

Somewhere in my youth, a love and fascination of soccer sprouted, flourished and then died.  In second grade I brought a half-deflated basketball to school and some of my friends and I started kicking it around.  Soon our jackets or sweatshirts were on the ground to mark out the goals.  That cheap, beat up old basketball was our soccer ball for weeks, maybe months.  We played everyday on one of the outdoor basketball courts.  Then Phil got a real soccer ball and started playing on a little league team.  We continued playing, probably until Phil’s skills far surpassed ours.  It petered out, probably at the end of that school year.  We returned to baseball, basketball, playing on the monkey bars and tetherball.  After that, I hardly gave soccer a second thought.

I paid attention when World Cups came around, probably because it was hard to ignore them.  But, other than rooting for the USA or Ireland (when she was last in it), I couldn’t be bothered.

All that changed when my daughter started playing soccer in the Plymouth Recreation League.  She just finished her first season, spring 2011, on one of Plymouth’s three U11 rec level — as opposed to “Select” which features much better players.  Our girl was on the Plymouth Rockets.  Not surprisingly, her coach was a father of one of the team members.  A handful of her teammates went to Smith Elementary with her.  Some were from other local elementaries.  The sister team, the Stingrays, was made up of some of her other neighborhood and classmates.  The Rockets and the Stingrays scrimmaged together; they also built a friendly rivalry.

Except for the game I could not make because I stood up in a wedding, I caught all the games in which she played.  We traveled to far away places (a bit of an exaggeration) like Highland Township, Walled Lake and Wixom.  The rest of the games were here in Plymouth, either at Lakeside Park or in Hines Park.

It was amazing which her grow into the sport.  She scored her first (and only) goal in the second game, the first played on the road.  That game was a 7-2 Rockets victory.  While it did not show up on the scoreboard, our girl contributed by playing solid defense and offense, especially for a first-time player.  She could hang with most of her competitors.  I was surprised at how proud I was of her prowess.  It was nothing to do with me, but I delighted in the fun she had and the success she enjoyed.

The Rockets went 3-3-2.  They suffered a couple tough losses, including in the first game (of two) they played against their sister team, and the game against Farmington Hills.  But they were otherwise always competitive.  They finished out the season by tying the Stingrays in a game they, the Rockets, probably should have won.  It was a nailbiter and had everything that is good about athletics.

Her team was not without its stars.  One of the girls is, quite frankly, amazing.  She was the best player on the field in every game I saw.  Another girl dominated, especially on defense, in the last game of the season.  She looked like a woman, or at least a teenager, among girls.  The excitement of watching some great individual performances by my daughter’s teammates and opponents, along with watching her play, was addictive!  I couldn’t wait to see her games.  For my own selfish reasons, I want her to continue to play, even though getting to the games isn’t always easy or convenient.

We got to know other parents a bit.  Some we already knew, we got to know better.  The whole experience had a very community feel to it.  It was really relationship-building for both our daughter and us.

I was and am thankful to Coach Dan for sacrificing his time and money to teach my daughter a game and, ultimately, life skills.  Anyone that has played organized sports knows that coaches can be the forgotten forgers of great memories, if not character.  So many people gave their time and energy to coaching me in sports; they really enriched my life.  Here’s to coaches everywhere, especially those that serve the kids in our community.

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Red Wing star, Chris Osgood, a fellow Plymouth resident, has maybe the coolest backyard ice rink you can imagine.  Not only is the rink really cool, there’s an old fashioned log cabin style hockey shed.  It’s a place to warm up by the fire and put on or take off your hockey gear.  Ozzie entertains the neighborhood kids at his rink.  I want to be invited so badly I can almost taste it.

These photos are courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings Facebook page.

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This game has gone viral.  The ontroversial ending is all over the internet.  It is even on Rivals, the premiere websource for high school sports and college recruiting.  I’ve seen the youtube video posted numerous times on Facebook and discussed on spartantailgate.com, one of the most frequented websites in the world and maybe the most notable single team/school college  website on the net.  Below is the link to the rivals article.

http://highschool.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1001233

As I’ve said before, I’m a John Glenn graduate.  In fact, I played a varsity sport there.  So I’m not upset to see them win the game.  There again, I’m a member of this community now and I support the local schools and teams (but do not really follow them.)  When it comes right down to it, though, I don’t care too much one way or another who won this game.  But I am slightly bothered by Plymouth High’s handling of the controversy, at least the way it is presented in the rivals article linked above.

Here’s a bit from the article that stood out and that I found somewhat disappointing

Sawchuk wants no part of that – or being an Internet sensation. He just wants what he feels his team earned: A victory.

“It’s something that’s a protest in my eyes,” he told the paper. “We won the game. We played our tails off and they (Glenn) should not be happy with the win.”

The “protest” is so strong that the team’s official website has yet to record a final score of the game.

I have no problem with the Wildcats athletic director or football coaching staff lodging a complaint over the play.  They might be right.  Perhaps the refs should have — or maybe did — blow the whistle.  They could have been screwed.  Sometimes, though, being a good sport means accepting with as much grace as one can muster those calls that don’t go your way.  For the coaches to talk like the Wildcats didn’t lose the game is a bit too much.  The game won’t be replayed.  Two weeks later the score won’t be set aside.  The Wildcats will not be declared the winners.  It’s time to accept the situation as is and move on.  The kids on the team will learn that life often requires this.  Some of us have to continuously swallow bitter pills, suffer grave injustices (or at least perceived ones.)  The best thing the coaches could do for the players is to let this matter go and move forward.

That’s easy for me to say.  I didn’t play.  My child wasn’t on the losing side of the field.  I do recognize, too, that the Wildcats did shake hands with the Rockets after the loss, a very dignified and appropriate response.  I applaud them for that.

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Westland John Glenn (my high school alma mater) got a lucky break, on an incredibly controversial play, and beat the Plymouth Wildcats on a last second touchdown at Glenn’s homecoming game last week.

The Wildcats blocked a field goal attempt but the ball did not pass the line of scrimmage. It was picked up by Glenn’s kick holder and, after some confusion on the field, run in for a touchdown. The play was upheld by the refs and the game awarded to Glenn. There’s some dispute over whether Glenn’s #87 downed by the ball by kneeling while in possession, but that was not seen or called by the refs.

A crazy play like this is a tough way to lose a game. It’s also an incredible way to win it. The play is on youtube and you can see it here.

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Thanks to Plymouth’s own Chris Osgood, and his fellow Red Wings, on a helluva playoff run.  The Wings represent the Detroit area and the entire state of Michigan with class and dignity and they are amazing athletes that are fantastic to watch.

It’s kind of depressing that Ozzie will not be bringing the Stanley Cup to Plymouth this year, but there’s always next year.

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Our local hero, Chris Osgood, has been great the last 2 games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but his team didn’t bail him out last night.  The series is tied 3 all and coming back to Detroit for game 7.

I want the Wings to win the Stanley Cup so bad I can taste and smell it.  Statistically they are overwhelming favorites, but stats don’t play the game, players do.  The Penguins can be great when they want to be.  Friday’s game could be a real nailbiter.

Whatever the outcome is, it has been great fun watching this team in yet another deep playoff run.  Chris Osgood has been spectacular and, if the Wings win, is likely to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP.)  Go Ozzie! Go Wings!  Bring the cup home again!

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Some rather enterprising neighbors have found a really cool way to show their support for our Detroit Red Wings.   Take a look.

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wantstanleygored wings

If you want to see the sign for yourself, the house is on Harvey between Linden and Wing.  You can’t miss it!

I’m very jealous.  This might be the coolest expression of team support by fans that I’ve seen.  Hats off to these folks.

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