Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yes, there ARE homeschooled athletes!

  A few weeks ago sardine mama over at sardines in a can  wrote a response to some questions that are often asked of homeschoolers, and gave a small glimpse into a life of learning at home.

At the time, I read with pleasure and thought to myself's been a long time since anyone has even questioned what we do.

And then? Our son's homeschooled soccer team won the Texas- Christian Athletic League state championship.

And the questions/statements began..

.Oh..they play with other homeschooled teams right?    The answer is not often. Usually they play school teams. Sometimes public, sometimes private.This is a logistical thing. While schools often practice at school, the homeschoolers cover a much larger geographical area in order to have enough members to form a team. Meaning? Less homeschooled teams to play. However, in the State of Texas homeschools are considered a private school. So this makes us legal to play with private school leagues. The T-Cal league throughout the state starts with a little over 90 schooled teams. We are the only homeschooled team in the league.

 You know, I put my children in school so they could play REAL sports.  Wow..don't even know how to respond.

I will tell you that they practice.

They play other teams.
Sometimes they play nice:

 Sometimes they play not so nice:

and sometimes? Their coaches have things to tell them...

and maybe the coaching is where the misnomer of non-real sports (whatever that means) comes in. We do not pay our coaches. They are (gasp) volunteers. Dang good ones, at that. Our coaches this year were previous homeschooled grads. (one is a fireman, one is a cook) who play soccer and came back to coach.

....and like all good coaches, these coaches listen, they yell (only when they get a tad excited),they reprimand. These coaches meet each player at whatever level they play and work to bring them to the next level..both individually and as a team.

and maybe the coaching is just one of the obvious difference between most homeschooled sports team and most schooled teams.

Attitudes of team members towards players of other ages, grade-levels and skill level are also pretty apparent. Why? Because the homeschooled teams I have been exposed to just don't care. They have not learned to separate other people by age, grade or ability. So they don't..

It is this lack of stereotyping or judging that becomes blaringly obvious (not good or bad) in the difference in the overall attitude of homeschooled team-members towards eachother  when compared to the attitudes in many of the teams which they play.

Also? The team members attitude towards siblings. I know it sounds weird. But it's not a secret that homeschoolers come with families attached..often big ones. So at every game, during 1/2 time..all the siblings of team-members..ages 18 months to 22 years..will hit the field and play together. Sometimes family members of other teams will join them.

When schooled players see their siblings on the field, there is usually an initial panic and an urgent whispered "get off the field! You're not supposed to be here!!" These athletes are not acting this way because they don't love their families..they are simply reacting out of fear. They don't want to see their brother or sister get in trouble.And often? Somewhere along the line, they have often been taught that families are embarrassing.

So in these players behalf, let's face it, we are at a game. Games are serious stuff. Brothers and sisters should not be on the field!  Much less playing with the enemy. Once assured they are welcome and no one is in trouble..these schooled athletes, watch wearily from the bench while their siblings play.

The homeschooled athletes? Usually don't even notice.

This is business as usual for them. You will here an occasional "my jersey is here if you want to borrow it." "Do you need some gloves?"..and that is all.  When it is time to start the second 1/2. All the siblings clear the field, and the game resumes.

So, these are basic cultural differences that become apparent on sports fields between schooled and homeschooled athletic teams. These differences are merely  reflections of the weekly routines of these athletes..both schooled or not schooled.

For example, as I type Cody(17- and our soccer player) Austen(16) their friend Devin(17) and Levi(8 months) are hanging around our kitchen table. The older boys are eating pizza. Levi is playing with cheerios.  In the kitchen are Sam (5) and Rachael (3)..they are running to the table for a bite of pizza and then back to the little people universe that has taken over our kitchen.

Meanwhile Cody's best friend Mason (an 18 year old schooled soccer player) is waiting another 30 minutes before his timed lunch break. A break he will share with his same ages peers. This morning? Mason went from one class, to another, to another..this afternoon he will do the same..and then to soccer.

That is Mason's day..every day..every week. 

Since my kids are babysitting today. They spent the morning playing swords. Actually? I believe they started by being "knighted" by "King Levi"..who would watch the battles from inside. Then? The "good knights" being Sam, Devin and Rachael..chased down the evil gnome Austen. While the big troll Cody continued snoring in his cave.

Now that lunch is over, Cody has declined the opportunity to play. He has explained his case to said knights and they are debating whether studying is an excuse not to join battle.  The "good knights" mull it over and decide studying is allowed for a troll. Now? The knights are planning to hunt down the evil gnome Austen (now turned fiery dragon) in the woods, before returning to the castle for an afternoon nap. During which time the older boys will study some economics.

..and that is Cody's life..most days..most weeks

So it is only natural that these types of cultural differences become apparent when you see the relationships between the athletes on schooled teams and the athletes on homeschooled teams. But honestly? I think the differences start and end with just this. The relationships.

What if they want to go to college? What if they want to play college ball? What will they do then?

Okay..that is two separate questions. Pictured above are Cody and the other seniors from his team. (All 5 of them!)

Of these 5 boys. 2 (Cody being one of them) are still trying to decide which college is the most financially suitable for them, 1 has been accepted to West Point, 1 will be attending a local state college and 1 is planning to spend a year doing missions work. At least 3 of these boys have the opportunity to play college ball if they so choose.

So there you have it. You can be a highschool athlete and homeschool. You can practice, win, loose, show good sportsmanship and bad sportsmanship. You can go to college. You can play ball...and you can even, occasionally  WIN A STATE TOURNAMENT!!!


mom said...

Nicole, a beautifully written piece on homeschool sports/soccer.
Amazing what ignorance inspires people to say. Your public school teacher mom.

grillledcheesechic said...