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FC Hawks Soccer Club: Committed to creating exemplary soccer players on and off the field

So You're Thinking About Putting Your Child in Travel Sports?



by Doug Johnson, President of FC Hawks Soccer Club

...Think again. This decision requires considerable thought as it will have a dramatic
 impact on the next decade of your life and even a longer impact on your child.

Albeit before the professionalization of it, I participated in travel sports.  I played travel soccer, hockey, football, and basketball; many of those at the same time!  As I look back, I think about my poor parents shuffling me from one event to the next.  The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, so when that special time came, I enrolled my children in travel sports. Subsequently I formed my own travel soccer club. Like they say, the days go slow, but the years go fast.  It saddens me to say my children are now in college and are no longer involved in the where-are-we-off-to-next craziness of travel sports.   My experience may provide a unique perspective on the subject to prospective parents  as I was  heavily involved in travel sports as a participant, a customer, a club President and alas an empty nester.  I am writing this to the parents of young children who are considering whether to jump on the competitive sports merry-go-round.  I hope these words help your family in making a decision that will certainly impact your life for the foreseeable future and quite possibly beyond.

As every parent knows, when your child enters this universe everything changes.   The love that comes from this event is incredible.  I daresay it is the most powerful force on Earth; it compels parents to do whatever they can to help the child  succeed.  This primordial energy causes even the most ego-centric of us to transform into someone willing to take a bullet for the little tike.  Unfortunately, one of the craziest things about becoming a parent is that no one actually gives you an operator’s manual to instruct us on  parental decisions. Because of this, we often just follow what parents of similar age children are doing so that we do not risk appearing foolish.  Better to conform and conceal our ignorance, rather than take action that could possibly reveal it right?. By doing so, we find ourselves waiting in line for a $5,000 preschool, rushing to the toy store before it opens to get the next got-to-have-it present-before-someone-beats-us-to-it or gulp...shelling out real money to enroll our 5 year old in travel sports.

If you are reading this, it means you are taking some time to see if this is the right move for your family.  Good for you because this should be a decision made with deliberation.  Moreover, it should be made with buy in from your significant other and to a lesser extent your son(s) or daughter(s).  As our new president would say, “here is the deal:”  if you do not enroll your child in travel sports it does not make you a bad person.  To be sure, the hectic world of travel is not for every family.  I spent some time reflecting on this often under-analyzed decision  and came up with ten reasons why you should not indoctrinate your family to the frenetic world of travel athletics.  (Spoiler alert: I came up with 50 reasons why you should.)   So without further ado, here are some pros and cons to assist you and your family with this important decision:



10 Reasons to Take a Pass on Travel Sports

1. Show Me the money.

Travel sports are expensive and it's probably more than you think. Sure there is the annual fee which can range from $500 to $7,500 plus depending on the sport.   One of my friend’s kids played 81 baseball games in a season so calculate that mileage expense.  Don't get me started on hockey.  If you are going to a tournament (and you will go to many) factor in meals,  parking, hotels and yup many times airfare. Now add up the cost of uniforms.  My buddy just paid $800 for a dance uniform (and they cancelled the season due to Covid.)  Many young athletes take private lessons to get an edge which are additional costs.  Add it all up and you might be better off putting all that dough in a 529 plan.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/a_38GmQRFl4

2. There is Cost and There is Opportunity Cost.

Economists define the term “opportunity cost” as the loss of potential gains from other  alternatives when another alternative is chosen.  In the vernacular, this means that if you choose travel sports, you will lose the benefits of other interesting endeavors.  For example, if your child devotes more time to x sport, he/she will lose the benefit of other activities like learning a language, playing an instrument, learning other sports, or developing the next big thing on Shark Tank.  For parents, when you unfold your chair at the field 20 miles away, you will lose your ability to play golf (or probably anything else) that day.  If you have a lakehouse in Wisconsin, you will be unable to use it when you are at a tournament in Indiana.  Believe it or not, opportunity cost is probably more prohibitive than the money you actually spend. Think about what you really want.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/5x7BCq62qjk

3.  Stress is a Killer.

I think every parent will agree that raising children is not exactly practicing mindfulness with the Dali Lama in a Zen garden.   We have the responsibilities of fulfilling Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: work, food, shelter, clothing, etc. and that is just for us.  Those responsibilities seem to grow exponentially with each new offspring.  It will not make things easier when you have Jimmy going to hockey practice three times a week, plus numerous games and tournaments all over God’s creation.  Oh, and since you did it for Jimmy, Janie has cheerleading which has choreography on Monday, tumbling on Tuesday, strength and conditioning on Wednesday, competitions on Saturday.  Add a few more kids to the mix and you will be searching Amazon for effective stress relievers as well knowing the first name of the cashier at the nearest liquor store.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/P4xbOoT3bi4 

4. What? My Kid Only Played X Minutes

So you missed Opening Day with the buddies and drove to where the GPS no longer works to see your child’s game instead. You watch the whole game and see a handful of plays involving your kid.  I have seen this phenomenon; it's the “my kid time warp”.  It goes like this, when your kid is playing time bends around itself and speeds up; when he is on the bench, it bends the other way and slows down.  Eventually, you are so mystified by this phenomenon, you start keeping track of your kids' minutes on the field with a stopwatch.  You discover that he played less than the better players and do the math.  If you are really crazy you go after the coach who informs you this is not house league and playing time is based on talent.  Ouch.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/vPP9d3OC_94

5. Everything is Politics.

My kid is not playing shortstop because…. My daughter is an alternate because... My son is not playing quarterback because….  My daughter plays defense because…. My son did not make the team because... Do not be fooled that travel sports are not political.  This is especially true if you did not join a given club early as deference will be paid to those with tenure to the club all else being equal. As Thomas Mann said, “everything is politics” but you can decide whether you want to make a donation.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/hL-LqFOsja0

6. Ouch

If your kid is playing travel sports, by definition, he/she/zie/ey/ve/tey/e will be playing with, and against bigger, stronger and more competitive individuals.  The games will be much more physical.  If tempers flare, it can get more physical on the field.  It also can get more dangerous on the sidelines.  I have run out of fingers on my hand counting the games where a parent could have been assaulted because of parents losing it over a game.  I called the cops one time.  Is increasing the risk of injury a good use of time and money?
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/dfqTCIgaPOI

7.  Not Everyone is an Athlete.

When I grew up, most people did not play sports.  Sports certainly were not family affairs, but now it seems like everyone has to play travel regardless of passion or ability.  I have seen too many teared up eyes on players because their lack of athleticism was exposed to their friends and the community.  Heaven forbid that this deficiency should let a ball through the legs and cost a game.  I hate to say it but I have seen bullying over this stuff. Do you want to pay money to put your kid in this situation? Bill Buckner never recovered. 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/uDcDh7a_07c

8.   The Late Bloomer.

A cynic would say travel sports is as much about maturity as it is about skills.  Indeed, the kids that mature the fastest are more likely to be successful.  Travel sports can be merciless on the kids that do not grow as fast or have a late birthday.  In the book “Outliers,” Malcom Gladwell brought attention to a phenomenon known as the “relative age effect.”  Kids that are older than their peers make higher level teams. They are also more likely to be recruited and drafted.  Whoa. Further, if you are destined to be good at something, you will be regardless if you play travel sports at an early age.  Alex Morgan (arguably the best female American soccer player) did not start playing organized soccer until she was 14. Christian Pulisic (arguably the best male American soccer player) learned the game in his backyard or playing in the street with friends. I talked to a very successful high school football coach and he told me he doesn't care if they even played football before. His son did not play tackle football until high school and is now being recruited. He looks for athletes regardless of experience and teaches them. He has a bunch of state championships to prove he knows what he is talking about so why bother paying all that extra cash?
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/KlYL_ozWfas

9. Burnout.

Burnout occurs when a player is feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the demands of the sport.  Studies indicate that the optimal amount of time to practice a sport is when the age of the athlete equals the number of hours a week of practice and games. Some clubs are so competitive that they play way more than that.  Kids in these situations are prone to burnout usually around age 12. So you could sink 5-10 figures into a travel sport only to hear one day, “I hate (insert sport) and want to quit.”   It happens.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/8rjNNGVXTTg

10. The Wrong Club.

There are a lot of travel clubs that unabashedly call themselves a business.  Frankly, I do not get it, but I see that in 2019 youth sports was a 17 billion dollar industry so I think I am missing something.   Given the dollars being spent, a club can be prone to thinking about profit over players.  The coaches in this setting consider the practices transactional, not transformative.  In particular, this can happen in big clubs that have multiple teams at the same age level.  If they were honest with themselves, coaches will admit that they do not put their heart and soul in the fourth team of a given age group. While it may sound great saying my son plays for the big club in the area, playing on the fourth team with a fourth rate coach may not be the best move for your child.  If your club does not truly care about you, why pay for that experience?
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/AMZdwHgsRvc



So, there are some very valid reasons to not join travel sports.  Yet, you may determine that the good outweighs the bad.

Drum Roll Please…50 Reasons to Enroll in Travel Sports

1. You're so competitive.

There are many lessons learned in competition.  One of the earliest lessons learned is that the best team does not always win.  Travel sports will definitely teach your player how to win with grace and how to lose with class.  I always tell my players that if you give it everything on the field, you are a winner no matter what the score so hold your head high in the post game high five line.  Learning these skills through intense competition will assist players in school, career and life.  The level of competition in house league just does not do the same. Kids that played travel sports know they have to earn it; kids that don't assume it should be given to them.  True dat!
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/fvdXBA0FIoM

2. Without Self Discipline, Success is Impossible.

Travel sports teach players to become productive for themselves and their teammates.  Time management becomes an essential skill.  School and homework must be done before practice and games.  In addition, passionate players find time to improve their skills on their own.  We have several players that get up at six in the morning to practice and then go to school.  These skills are transferable. As the Dali Lama identified, “a disciplined mind leads to happiness, an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.” 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/O-9zYAhqzHA

3. Being part of Something.

I know you can be in a recreational league and learn the lessons of teamwork, but when you are in a travel club it's exponential.  How to improve, how to work in a team, how to problem solve, how to learn to win. Kids learn the social dynamic.  Moreover,  it creates an identity for the player and the family that is valuable. Players get better not only for themselves, but for their teammates.  They also learn how to help others improve.  Teamwork makes the dream work.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/dmJWYbD_vyU

4.   But Can you Coach?

It's not the label, it's the wine.  In like fashion, it's not the color of the laundry, it's the coach. It's fair to say you get much better coaches in travel sports.  In many circles, travel coaches need to be certified which requires training.  One of our coaches has an “A” license, which means he got the E license (5-7 hours); the D license (5 full days over two months); the C license (at least of year with two full weeks at a national location, separated by three months of homework and mentoring $2,000); the B license (after having C for a year three 5 days course separated by months of training and homework $3,000) and then the A license which requires three five day sessions over  six month commitment with assignments and tests $4,000).  It's like a PHD in sports.  While conceivable, you can not expect that in house league. You get what you pay for.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/2a9qnokLcqM

5. The Boy Has Got (New) Skills.

Travel sports will teach you new skills and improve the ones you have.  It's like practicing piano every so often with your mom or four times a week with a trained virtuoso. It does not take a Mensa candidate to determine who will develop more skills.  This is particularly true if the player starts young.  Young players in travel sports develop their off hand or foot and avoid bad habits.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/u9ZqG9fIZTk

6. Let’s Get Physical.

Not too long ago, kids were always doing something physical like running, jumping, biking, swimming etc.  The digital age has taken some toll on physical activity.  Heck, kids do not even walk to each other's house ever.  In an era where the outdoors is just an option, travel sports will provide a physical education. With the staggering rate of phone addiction, physical literacy is more important than ever.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/CWOXxX_rvZw

7. Ambition Got the Best Of Me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “Without ambition one starts nothing.  The prize will not be sent to you.  You have to win it.”  Competitive sports teaches the value of ambition in very practical terms.  Players learn that ambition and work carry the day.  Such is life.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/7FAxion_SHA

8. It's Sooooo Depressing.

The mental health of our children is becoming a crisis.  The statistics are frightening.  Obviously, regular exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood. This, coupled with socialization and skill development can improve low self-esteem and decrease social withdrawal.  I think we can all agree that just forgetting about everything on social media and focusing on a sport with your teammates can be very therapeutic for children. As they kids would say, “Let’s gooooo!”
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/g6TP_yRgaQg

9. Job Training?

Travel sports can teach you some serious life skills.  Recently, there was a study done on 400 of the highest female executives, 94% of those played travel sports growing up.  Go figure.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/j1qF0ItHRsA

10. There is no “I” in Team.

Teamwork is important.  In fact, learning to be a valuable member of a team led by a more experienced coach is similar to the work environment they will experience in the future.  Learning these skills will foster their future success. As coach Vince Lombardi once said “individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/1DYaGrv_jCw

11. What About Next Year?

While there are no guarantees, playing travel sports can help you get on the next level team. If it is the right club, deserving players can play up on older or higher level teams.  For many,  making the high school team is a goal.  High school coaches usually learn where you played and can make educated guesses solely by that alone. Better ones actually scout the travel teams.  In terms of college, most travel sports play in showcase tournaments where college scouts can see them.  A good travel sports club can also help deserving players get into olympic development programs or other higher level teams.  
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/KyV4b_rS-6I

12. Did Somebody Say Travel?

Travelling is education. Indeed, Oliver Wendall Holmes once observed: “a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension.”  It's not just experiencing new places, it's the journey. The Buddha remarked that “it is better to travel well than arrive.” I learned so much just being quiet and listening to the players in the carpool.   Travel sports is the journey as much as the destination. 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/x-2pEdY4Bgk

13. After the Merry-Go-Round.

Kids that grow up practicing and playing with each other form strong emotional bonds that continue long after their playing days.  If you played competitive sports, you know what I am talking about.  Look around, some of the closest friends people have are often those that were former teammates. I know it is true for me.  Some of my closest friends are former teammates that have called me by the same nickname for 40 years.  Most people have no idea what it means or where it comes from.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/5GgzpDOXibg

14. Healthy Lifestyle.

According to the CDC, a staggering 18% or 13,700,000 children aged 2-19 are not overweight, but obese. Yikes!  When you are active 3-4 times a week, it’s nearly impossible to be in that unfortunate demographic.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/cURqUH3CMPg

15. Patience Young Padawan.

Travel sports provides growing children with a mentor.  Mentors occupy an important role in development because unlike parents, they are not unconditional loving.   The benefits of coaching and mentoring are well-documented, with the proteges experiencing increased academic achievement, lower engagement in risky behaviors, greater self-efficacy, decreased behavioral problems, and improved social skills. 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/2cOIpPu_uF8

16. I want to try  _____ sport next.

If you join a travel sport, many of the skills are transferable to a new sport.  I have seen young hockey players quickly become amazing soccer players, young soccer players quickly become amazing cross country runners, and basketball players quickly become football players.  Travel sports, particularly at a younger age, increase body coordination and mental focus so young athletes can move from sport to sport easily.  They also learn the drill to learn the drills.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/-hPxcQZm41Y

17. You Gonna Eat That

Those participating in travel sports become better educated on the importance of nutrition.  Clubs want fit athletes and often host nutrition seminars to make sure players know what they should be eating.  Pass the kale salad please.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/vwbEZQLPrMw

18. Houston We Have a Problem.

Competitive sports improves complex problem solving.   According to the World Economic Forum, this will be the number one skill young people will need.  Players improve their problem solving abilities by recognizing problems objectively, identifying essential facts and filling the gaps with creativity. For more, see, How Sports Improves Complex Problem Solving, Benjamin Jaksh (August 19, 2019).
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/2589JX4Kn0s

19. New Friends, Not New Likes

By participating in travel sports, young people meet new friends.  This is a lot different than someone new liking your post. Human to human interaction is underrated.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/gHLTOb1c8PQ

20. Meet the Parents.

Players increase their social circle through sports, but so do parents.  I had one parent approach me and say I do not know what I would do without this club. All of my son's friends were made through it and so are a lot of my friends.  She is savoring every moment because her kid is going to high school.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/Hozi0zzlPlE

21. Let’s Go Camping

Participation in travel sports opens doors to things like college camps.  These camps are great experiences insofar as they provide an opportunity for kids to see what college is like.  Not only do they get to visit a university they get to live like a college student.  It's educational and memorable.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/z5A0yRbekig

22.  Take Me to Your Leader.

Travel sports develops leadership skills. I am not sure how, but you just start to see it.  Natural leaders gain the self confidence to direct and motivate others through sport. As Larry Bird said, “Leadership is getting players to believe in you. If you tell a teammate you’re ready to play as tough as you’re able to, you’d better go out there and do it. Players will see right through a phony. And they can tell when you’re not giving it all you’ve got.” Watching players develop their leadership skills is one of the greatest joys of  coaching.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/b01fR6R5r6g

23. “Please Sir Can I Have Some More.”

Frankly, I have always been more of a renaissance guy when it comes to sports.  However, many players want to focus on one sport.  Participating in travel sports allows you the opportunity for additional training with the team, one-on-one with coaches, in winter or through summer camps.  Basically, you can bite off as much as you can chew which is an interesting analogy following a quote from Oliver Twist.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/rz-Ieoo0210

24. So Where are You From?

Lets face it, many kids grow up with kids that look just like they do.  Travel sports can expose kids to other ethnicities and backgrounds.  For example, our soccer club plays Polish teams, Mexican teams, German teams, African-American teams, Slovakian teams.  We play teams from the big city and the sticks.  Exposure to these different cultures can help overcome stereotypes and lead to overcoming racial and ethnic division. At the very least, players learn to understand their world a little better.  The world could use a little more of this. I am not sayin, I am just sayin’
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/fdVPCadsin0

25. No Participation Medals.

While we wish it weren't so, not everyone wins.  Travel sports will occasionally be a harsh teacher.  Good coaches will let you know why you were not successful.  Better coaches will  institute a plan to correct it.  It's not like you get a ribbon for showing up.  Learning from mistakes is a life skill.  You might as well learn this one early.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/qKJYprKwl5k

26. “I Have Known a Great Many Troubles, But None of Them Happened.”

As they say, idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Young people actively involved in competitive sports simply have less time to get involved with unproductive endeavors such as drugs, crime, or watching Siesta Key.  In other words, dedication to a sport keeps you out of trouble.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/dJT0IrQGaj0

27. Are You Not Entertained?

Travel sports games are just more fun to watch and play than recreational sports.  ‘Nough said.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/cXzRCVwmC0g

28. Scholarships.

If you play travel sports, you will have a better chance of getting a college scholarship.  Of course, scholarships are not handed out like participation medals, but you might be surprised.  We had one player that looked like she did not belong on her team and next thing you know it she is holding her own with top college players.  She is also getting some offers.  With the price of college, if you get a scholarship it's like going pro in the Seventies.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/HXGr32E7_04

29. Are You Blind?

Travel sports will have better referees.  They will also have the proper amount.  In our soccer club, we have linesmen to help with offsides calls for 12 year olds.  This does not happen everywhere.   I will never forget the shock of sitting in the stands at the freshman soccer game and seeing only  one referee and no linesman.   I probably looked insane to the other parents when I was yelling to the defenders that played for our club “Forget everything I taught you about the off-sides trap!”
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/k7DhW83qOJY

30. Painfully Employed.

Many players in travel sports can work their way into a paying gig.  In our club, we have older players reffing games. Others are working as assistants to the coaches.  Some are counselors to 5 younger members of the club.  I am looking forward to the day when one of them gets their license and becomes a coach.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/rc80Ajxob70

31.  What No Surprise Party.

When you are in a recreational league, you never know what kind of coach you are going to get.  It could be someone who is just a nice person, but does not have any knowledge of the game.  It could be someone that knows the game but just has no idea how to coach.  When you are in travel sports, your coach will be professional, dedicated and know what the heck they are doing.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/LJs7gRkO1Ic

32. Look Sharp

Travel uniforms are just so much better looking than the house league ones. You also get some cool swag to wear around the house and at school.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/jmpVeIWMG_c

33. I Know People With Good Taste, They Share Mine.

It's just more fun watching (insert sport) with people who are passionate about (insert sport).  The common interest leads to a greater love and knowledge of what the players are doing.  Conversation flows and time flies.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/KEM0dgbEg1c

34. My Head Hurts.

Those involved in travel sports are much more keenly aware of the dangers of concussions.  If I had a dollar for every certification video I have watched, I could throw a pizza party.  The more you are aware of this danger, the safer your player.  Unfortunately, this is serious and some teams just do not understand the importance. One player I used to coach (who went to play for a park district team) hit her head, but she was put back in the game by a different coach.  She hurt her head again and now has trouble with school and sleeping.  It's good to have people trained in concussion protocol looking after your child.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/aN8cry8bevU

35.  More, More, More…

While sometimes less is more, when it comes to playing we say more is more.  Travel sports simply have more games and more game opportunities.  There are also more practices, tournaments and camps.  Travel sports simply provide more opportunities for passionate players
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/cI75yHJXngg

36.   The Dreaded College Application.

Most of you are far away from this one, but I just completed my third (and final) college application process.  College is so competitive these days.  It's not just test scores and grades.   Each application has 8-10 sections to indicate what the student has done outside of class.  You have to put something in.  Inputting travel club player: 2022-2035 might look pretty good on a young person’s application. Imagine including  State Champion? National Champion? All-State? It sounds nuts, but these can be difference makers in the eyes of a college admissions officer.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/cJYo1szoA6E



37. We are Family.

Travel sports will provide some unique family bonding opportunities.  I remember coaching one kid, the other showed up after his game on an adjacent field and then my wife, daughter and dog (in uniform) came out to support as well. It was extremely memorable watching one child cheer on the other and the sense of pride they had when they did something good.  Believe me, there are not too many times you will see that.  I would write more about it but I am kinda choking up…
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/DfOuFl_y-dY

38.  Charity Hurts (Not Really)

Many travel clubs do charity work like cleaning up a forest preserve.  We took our club to a place called “Feed Our Starving Children” where players had to make as many meals as possible for underprivileged children in a certain amount of time.  The competition was fierce. Others volunteered to teach soccer to children with disabilities.  At the end of the day, our players did something good and learned that there are a lot bigger problems out there than winning and losing.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/8OcdIn6035M

In recreational sports, showing up a little late is not a big deal.  At the travel level, players learn the importance of being on time.  If they are late for practice, there is a consequence (and often it's endured by the whole team.)  If they are late for games, a bigger consequence.  Life lesson.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/YecwH6P5k34

40. Feedback.

Good travel clubs give individual feedback at regular intervals to let players know where they need to improve.  Really good clubs track this progress.  Our club recently purchased a fancy-schmancy video camera so we can film games and do video analysis.  I do not think you will get that from the park district.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/hgdRHIwDzzA

41. “Memories…. Like the Corners of My Mind.”

If you join a travel club, there will likely be many parents who will undoubtedly become  archivists.  They photograph, take video and make incredible keepsakes.  You can actually watch your son or daughter grow up on your computer.  I never thought that would be a benefit of joining a travel team, but I am so grateful to all those that documented these experiences.  They pop up on my computer and remind me of the “way we were.”  (See what I did there?)
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/5OPhmqaNv_U

42. Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright

When you join a travel sport, you join a travel family.  It's kind of like the movie Goodfellas where you end up doing a lot of things together.  In addition to practices, games and carpools, travel sports usually have a number of social gatherings.  It could be a pizza party after the game.  It could be a pasta party before the tournament.  It could be a meeting at the lobby of the hotel or an end-of-the year banquet.  They seem silly, but they are a lot of fun and create fond memories for parents and players.  
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/48EE5G21lMA

43. We are the Champions.

It’s not like what Tom Brady does routinely, but winning a championship is an amazing experience for players and their families.  As I tell players, if you are lucky, you may have a handful of these experiences in your lifetime.  I can still see the beam in some of my players' eyes as the whistle sounded.  The team pictures with the trophies and the medals are priceless. The post tournament celebration with players, parents and coaches equally so.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/JezSJADYljM

44. The Wisdom of John Wooden.

To this unabashed author, Wooden was a savant and the greatest coach of all time.  While you can read his words, when you work at a travel sport players gain a greater appreciation of his wisdom. My favorite Woodisms:

Be more concerned with your character more than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are

Nothing will work unless you do.

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

The best competition I have is against myself to become better.

A coach is someone who can give corrections without causing resentment.

Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.

Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.

You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. And you can win when you’re outscored.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/wCByqCaJAYs

45. The Specialization of Labor

If you are involved in travel sports, you have an opportunity to focus on a particular position on a team.  In soccer, we have goalkeeping coaches.  In baseball, there are pitching coaches.  Football has quarterback and kicking coaches.  The existence of these coaches facilitate the player’s talent and interest.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/MWac7IN7TX0

46. Sharpen the Saw.

Players improve when they play with and against those more talented.   For example, this season many talented players from the US Women's U18 soccer team were left without a place to play due to Covid-19.  Fortunately, they were able to form a team involving some of the players from our club.  The improvement in our players was astounding.  They saw how these girls practiced and played.  Perhaps more importantly, they saw how they acted. They watched the look in their eyes and experienced their calm confidence.  When you are playing with people like that, the game is the greatest coach.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/Kz3FqiEWF3w

47. Kick the Bad Habit

Benjamin Franklin once said “it's easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”  This is so true in sports.   Starting in a travel sport at an early age will teach very important skills like being able to shoot with both feet. When coaches see poor mechanics in older players, we know these bad habits are nearly impossible to break.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/q4r640OtpL0

48. Cheaper than a Babysitter?

Now this is not true for every club, but travel sports can be more economical than you think.  For example, our club charges roughly $1500 for 10 weeks in fall, 8 weeks in winter, 10 weeks in the Spring.  Fall and Spring are 6 hours of games and instruction. In the winter we do 3 hours a week.  If you add in tournaments, it's less than $10/hour for professional instruction, facilities and referees.  What are you paying to have someone watch tv and eat food at your house while you go out to dinner?
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/GB_WbqC5rx0

49. Do you Believe in Miracles?

As I look back on 15 years of travel sports, I remember all of the unbelievable games that were played: the last second buzzer beaters;  the walk off home runs; the penalty shot shoot-outs. I can visualize the plays: an amazing catch, a blistering shot off the goal post; an incredible throw.  I can hear the cheering parents.  I can feel the exhilaration of the players.  I can experience the true joy of a player who just did something miraculous.  Yeah, you could say it doesn’t really matter, but why am I crying my eyes out right now?
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/m8B--iOcAf0

50. The Zeitgeist of it All

Zeitgeist is from the German word “zeit” meaning time and “geist” meaning spirit. I think it is fair to say that the true Zeitgeist of an era can never be known until it is over.  Unfortunately for me, my childrens’ era is over.  I can tell you one thing that is absolutely true.  I do not regret one single second of the enormous amount of time I spent with my sons and daughter playing travel sports.  I was speaking with another parent in a similar situation who confided in me that he “wished he could do it all over starting right now.”  Frankly, I have never met anyone who thought differently.  This is probably the best reason of them all to join a travel sports team.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/IqbCk6CYjEw



In sum, I hope that these ramblings help a young family decide whether to join travel sports. As you can see, there is a lot to consider.    I think the best advice is to decide as parents what you want for your son or daughter.   Whatever you decide, please be easy on yourself (and your children).  It's tough enough to be a parent (or a kid) these days.  I wish you all the best.  Game on.



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