10 November 2007

Dragons Fade

I can officially say that the Green Dragons ran out of gas last night in the Championship game. The offense was lethargic and the defense was sloppy. The result was a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a Sharks team that, admittedly, was a lot better than us. I guess the fatigue from a 4th game in 6 days finally caught up with the team, but I don't blame them a bit for that. They play their final regular season game this morning at 10, which will be their 5th in a week, and it promises to be a complete disaster. The head coach has promised to mix up the line-ups, allowing the kids to try some new positions since the game is essentially meaningless. I'm looking forward to seeing what an all-girls offense can do, as well as what some inexperienced goal-keeping will lead to. The season wraps up next Saturday with a pizza party and another set of trophies, and I have to say that coaching this team has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in a long time. The one-on-one time with Avery has been great, and the chance to teach and lead the kids is something I'm grateful for.

09 November 2007

Oh The Drama

Well we've come to that time in the soccer season, the regular schedule is winding down and everyone's focus is on the end-of-year tournament. The Green Dragons, Avery's team, played its first tourney game Tuesday night and the outcome was every bit as thrilling as a Cinderella upset in the first round of March Madness. After getting down 2 goals early, the Dragons scored to cut the lead in half. Within moments the other team scored again and took the wind right out of our sails. But a few fortunate bounces and a well-executed penalty kick gave us a tie game, and we went to sudden-death overtime. Of course this is a 7-year-old league, so the official terminology was "Golden Goal", first score in OT wins the game. The Dragons took the opening kickoff of the extra time straight down the field and scored the game winner, extending their season by what we thought was the slimmest margin. Next game, Thursday night at 7.

So when Thursday's semi-finals game rolled around, you could really feel a different energy among the team. They were in to it, the crowd was in to it, and of course I was in to it. The Dragons started this game much better than the last, coming out running hard and being aggressive. They took the lead early and played stifling defense for the rest of the game . . except the last 12 seconds. In one of the worst errors in judgement they'd made all season, the defense brought a ball back in front of our goal and allowed it to squirt loose. The opposition's best player capitalized and tied the score at the end of regulation. The 5 minute overtime was full of action, although the fatigue was clearly starting to show. Both teams were clearly playing to avoid mistakes instead of being aggressive. Our goalie stopped a penalty kick for an inadvertent hand-ball, which turned out to be the only real scoring opportunity for either team. There is no second overtime, it goes to penalty kicks next and if there's no winner, best 2 out of 3 coin flips. The excitement was palpable . . the crowd was frenzied, the kids were completely manic, and the head coach and I were shittin' rocks. The first 4 to kick for each team missed, most of them badly, so the tension was building quickly. We got on the board first and put the pressure squarely on their kids, and you could start to taste the victory. Our goalie made two really great saves, we made two more shots, and the opposing coaches conceded the game when we had two players left to shoot. It was out of reach, and the celebration began. "We're going to the championship!" they all chanted as we lined them up for the post-game handshake, most of the other players visibly fighting back tears. The swell of pride from the coaches and parents took a little of the chill out of the cold November air, as we all stood for a moment to soak in this great moment. It may not have been a Super Bowl or a Final Four, but you couldn't ask for better sports drama than that. The championship game is tonight at 6:00, and while we're hoping we just blow the other team out, I for one would not be upset if it came down to the wire again. Go Green Dragons!

08 November 2007

Fall Is My Season

I've always loved Autumn . . it's the season I look forward to the most. The weather is the perfect balance of warm and cold, with plenty of sunshine that isn't oppressive but still warms you when the wind blows. The creatures of nature seem to thrive in the fall, with deer, birds, and trees all seemingly puffing out their proverbial chests in one last display of might before the slumber of a long winter. I took a walk yesterday to explore what will one day be the nature trail in our neighborhood, and the amount of life in those woods was astounding. Every step I took prompted the critters that live in the underbrush to cautiously retreat toward the water, and the small flocks of birds that were eating their winter stores would flit away a few yards at a time as I made my way down the gravel path. A Great Blue Heron that lives in one of the ponds kept a close eye on me, taking off when I'd get too close to his secluded little watering hole. I saw a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks circling above, their fresh fall plumage unblemished and vibrant. And a pair of Mallards sat on a sandbar in the pond, perhaps looking for a place to hatch a brood next spring. The only time of year that rivals the peak of Autumn is early spring, but the spring's youth and uncertainty is no match for the mature, purposeful and powerful fall. Depending on where you live there may only be another week or two until this zenith has passed you by, with the leaves falling and the wildlife completing their retreat to warmer climes. I recommend taking a few moments to soak it in and appreciate all the beauty of my favorite season, I promise you the rewards are there for the taking.

04 November 2007

Headlines That Make Me Angry

I have to be honest with you . . I don't really give a crap about Darfur. While the stories about what's happening there are unfortunate, they're not the kind of things that really get me worked up. And while I'm certainly concerned about Iran and its terrorist government, I don't feel like that's what the average American should be worrying about day-to-day. In my opinion, priority numero uno for the good citizens of the USA (and the non-citizen residents, for that matter) should be learning how to take personal responsibility for their lives and the events that go on from one day to the next. Once we've got that down, then we can start worrying about that other stuff.

The headline that prompted this tirade was pretty ordinary by most people's standards, and probably wasn't given many second thoughts. It was, after all, on the back page of the front section of the Charlotte Observer, and the accompanying photo and caption undoubtedly garnered the majority of folks' attention. The headline read "Massive pileup blamed on fog", and as you can see from the picture, the first two words are really accurate. But "blamed on fog"? Which idiot DMV employee gave a low cloud a driver's license? Did anybody check to see if the cloud had full coverage insurance? Or was he an illegal alien (er, foreign national) who had been arrested 3 times previously for driving without a license and let off because of justice system inefficiencies or inadequacies? Here's a reality check for all 100 or so drivers caught up in the wreck . . you have to drive differently when you can't see 15 feet in front of your SUV! Automatic Stability Control and Traction Control and Rollover Mitigation and all the other crap they're putting into cars these days are all just added weight if you don't slow the hell down and pay attention when you're driving. Blaming the accident on the fog is like blaming your hangover on the appealing shape of the vodka bottle . . it's what you did with the stuff inside the bottle you idiot! We need to take personal responsibility for our lives and the things that happen to us. It is not the weather's fault, it's not the advertising company's fault, it's not the car company's fault, it's your fault! We need to stop sitting around waiting for the government to provide what we need and start driving the proverbial bus that is our lives. That's how our country became the greatest country in the world and it's the only way it'll stay that way.