Ryan Trares: It’s finally spring, roll the balls out

Ryan Trares

All of the signs point in the same way — spring is here.

Fat robins have appeared to peck for worms in our backyard. Buds have popped out on the maple trees out front. Tulips and daylilies have pushed their green shoots out of their underground slumber into the warm sunshine.

And at the Trares house, that means the soccer balls are back out.

Anthony has been waiting all winter for this. Soccer is his game, but for the past few months, that’s meant knocking around a ball in the living room or passing across the kitchen. We had a few opportunities to get outside when the temperatures became bearable, but earlier this month, things really heated up — literally.

He was feeling the itch to practice his dribbling and ball skills with the warmer days, and demanded I set up his soccer goal earlier.

Dressed in last year’s soccer jersey, with his purple socks pulled up to the knees, Anthony worked on his set kicks. He placed the ball on the right wing, maybe 10 yards from the goal, then took off in a sprint toward it. Over and over again, he sent the ball rocketing toward the goal.

He didn’t make it every time. But more and more, it’d find the back of the net. He shot some low liners to either side, then booted a few strikes to the upper corners.

For about 30 minutes, he practiced on his own. I can see how he’s gotten more confident as a player, and working hard to get better.

Nearly every day this month, he’s asked me how many days until his season starts. It’s reminding me of the lead-up to Christmas or his birthday.

We recently took a trip to the sporting goods store to look for new cleats — he outgrew the ones he’d played in for the past two seasons. We looked around the brightly colored offerings until we spotted a pair that struck him. The fluorescent yellow cleats just looked fast — like a flash of lightning — and Anthony was convinced they’d make him fly around the field.

After we confirmed the shoes fit, and that they’d work with his extra soccer socks and shin guards, we brought them home. He couldn’t wait to show them off, making us take photos and send them to his grandparents, aunt and uncle.

Anthony will start his soccer season in April, and I’ll once again be his coach. This will be the third year for both of us. It’s been so much fun seeing him grow, to move from a shy kindergartener who didn’t want to get close to the ball to actively loving the game.

With about a month to go, he’ll have to make due with practicing by himself or with me in the backyard. Anthony seems content with that for now.

The season hasn’t even started yet, and I already feel like he’s scored a big goal.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal in Franklin. Send comments to [email protected].