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Sam Cook column: Pondering the post-game procession

Soccer season is upon us in the neighborhood.

Sam Cook
Sam Cook
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Here she comes now, walking along the sidewalk in her pink knee-high socks. Soccer socks, most certainly. She’s wearing her green team T-shirt. Her skinny arms swing as she walks. Her legs stride along with purpose.

The girl appears to be somewhere between eight and 10 years old. Headed home from the game on a field of green a block or so away, I suspect. When the wind is right on September nights, we can hear parents cheering at the field.

A few strides ahead of the girl is a man who appears to be her father. He’s the one carrying the soccer ball. A younger boy on a scooter zips ahead of the man and the girl. The little brother has a need for speed.

We used to have a girl like the one walking behind her father. And a boy, too. Miniature soccer players. In the early years, their jerseys hung almost beyond the bottom of their shorts.

Seeing the girl in the pink socks brought back a flood of memories from those early soccer years. In the beginning, it was such a simple sport. Almost none of the kids knew anything about the game, and if you were really fortunate, none of the parents did, either.

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“Kick it!” was the only battle cry we knew.

That was all the strategy we knew in the pink-sock league.

So, the kids kept kicking it.

The ball would carom off those little shins, and every now and then some child would put some real leg into it, and it would go squirting away from the cluster. The whole mob would race downfield and converge on the ball again.

We followed the rec soccer train all the way through with both of our kids, though in middle school and high school they veered off to cross-country running and cross-country skiing.

I’ll admit my affection for those early years of soccer, before the kids and the parents got serious about wins and losses.

Some of those evenings in late August, you could let your eyes veer from the field to the sky, where common nighthawks were migrating at low altitude. With swept-back wings made for quick turns, they’d swoop and dive, inhaling flying insects out of the sky on their way to South America. The spectacle was almost as good as the action on the field.

Every now and then in the long-shirt league, the ball would squirt loose and roll with just enough momentum to cross the goal line. Sometimes even into the correct goal. Pandemonium ensued.

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The girl in her pink knee-highs was well up the street now, her dad and brother still ahead of her. The season is young. Maybe they’ll pass by again.

MORE BY SAM COOK
We didn’t see that one coming.

Related Topics: SAM COOKSOCCERFAMILYDULUTH
Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at cooksam48@gmail.com or find his Facebook page at facebook.com/sam.cook.5249.
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