Soccer on the basketball court

I just looked outside to see how my son’s doing on the playground and was greeted with the greatest sight a soccer freak like myself could see: he and a group of kids in windbreakers playing ad-hoc soccer on the basketball court. He had just scored and was running around the court, his arms out to his sides, cheering in glee. It’s underground. It’s magic. It’s what this country needs more of if we’re going to further develop our soccer standing around the world.

Kids playing soccer is almost natural. A simple and inexpensive game, everyone can play it with minimal effort. Started young enough, the magic of the feet and ball becomes second nature in the older players. Skill development is augmented by memories of playground and gym games with friends and foes and the skills come quicker without replacing the joy. It’s this kind of environment that fosters true soccer skills in the same way stick ball can turn into the most elegant form of baseball we’ll ever play.

Encourage your kids to play more often — the type of ball and shoes don’t matter on the playground — and you’ll find an energy to the game that maybe your local clubs or soccer organizations can’t generate on their own. Heck, go out and join them if you’re willing to leave the rules at home. All that matters is that feet are dancing happily around that elusive sphere in the grass, on the pavement, on the dirt.

Soccer is addictive and if allowed to come from the roots in which it was refined will become pervasive. It’s only a matter of time.

Men’s Open Cup 2007

Region 1 Amateur Qualifying

The US Open Cup qualifying matches are in full swing, and unfortunately there’s not much hope for our uber-local teams in the Amateur or Premier Development Ranks.

Not far from here, though, Danbury United from Connecticut are in a position to challenge the Aegean Hawks from D.C. from the Region 1 Amateur ranks. Sadly, local teams Phantoms and Lowell Revolution were ousted early on.

PDL Eastern Conference Qualifying

Up in the Premiere Development League (PDL), Vermont Voltage (30 miles from my hometown) are long gone. Cape Cod needs to win their next match (vs. Vermont) if they’re to have any hopes of beating out Long Island Rough Riders, but that will also depend on Long Island losing or drawing. Who are they playing? Vermont, so my money’s on Long Island to secure the PDL spot for the Northeast.

Ahh, wouldn’t it be awesome?

American Soccer Pyramid – Wikipedia

This is something I would like to see happen in this country: an interconnection of all of the various divisions of soccer. How cool would it be to see the Vermont Voltage struggle their way, season by season, to the MLS? Isn’t it about time that Rochester, NY got themselves an MLS team? Well, with a system of promotion and relegation, it could happen.

I’ve heard from a few people that there are some difficult financial issues to work out with the promotion/relegation systems, but I think the results are worth it: wider-spread soccer, more teams created at the local level (because the dream is there to go higher), and the passion that only a team facing relegation can muster.

I know that it will probably never happen, but I’d still like to think it’s possible.

Familiar sounds; Torn heart

At the top of the page, you’ve probably noticed a little iframe widgety thing. Contained therein are the songs currently playing at WNCS, FM 104.7 (pointfm.com) out of Montpelier, VT. If there is a phenomenon of a radio station being the center of a teenager’s life, then this one was mine.

When the options for radio included country, speed metal crap rock, big hair bands, soft rock, and country, WNCS floated its alterna-folk-rock sounds to my bedroom and car in those formative years. Though static was what I most often heard — being nestled in the Buffalo Mountain valley will do that — I knew that when I came up out of the valley between Hardwick and Woodbury, the sound would clear and so would my head.

I don’t know if it’s possible to explain how calming and exciting it is to be able to tune in to the familiar — but also new — sounds from here in Massachusetts nearly 15 years later. Static-free, zipping along co-ax and fiber-optic cable instead of bouncing off of clouds, ‘NCS still calms my soul and reminds me where I’m from. In the moments between notes I can drive once again along Route 12 between Montpelier and Elmore after dropping dad off at work. I can feel the cold morning air rushing against my face through the open window of an ’82 Ford wagon (Farley, I called him).

Up until a day ago, I kept forgetting how much a part of my life music really is. Finding ‘NCS again is a reminder that I do have a sound in my head and that it’s not half bad.

Take a listen if you can. I don’t know if the sounds will mean the same thing outside of Vermont, outside of my head, beyond the confines of an old brown Ford, but who knows. Maybe you’ll get a sense of what it was like growing up where everything — including your future — seemed so far away and hard to get to. “You can’t get there from here” wasn’t just a local color cliche. In parts of Vermont, it’s true.

I’m just glad ‘NCS can get here from there.

Saab Progress

About a month ago we bought a 1994 Saab 900S from ebay for $USD 950. So far it’s been a very good purchase. Since we got it on ebay, we knew it would be a project car, so the repairs we’ve had to do have been expected and fairly typical, in my mind, for a Saab with 187k+ miles on it.

So far we’ve spent about $USD 1100 on repairs, with another $750 or so to go that absolutely have to get done. The work has included a serpentine belt drive wheel replacement, exhaust re-weld and replacement, and a new control arm. Remaining work will be done on the front end: strut rebuild for both sides. We should also get the brakes replaced, because the rotors are a bit rusty, but we may wait awhile on that.

We took a trip to a local salvage yard today, too, and got a new SID unit that actually works as well as two hubcaps for the back wheels for $USD 30 all told. All in all, the car runs really well and seems very solid and in great shape for being 13 years old. It feels like it’s been taken well care of, which is the most important thing.

We can’t wait to be able to get it on the road and really run it through its paces to see where we want to go with it in terms of performance/handling/styling/etc. See, the idea is to have a stealth-sport car. In other words, it should look like your average, three-person-family sedan but have really good handling and pickup as though it were completely tricked out. I’m not sure how to get there, but I’m thinking it’ll be a lot of fun to try.