When I picked up Ph. from futbol practice this morning noon,
he reported–big smile–that he’s been offered a spot on the varsity squad.
We’re happy for him, of course, and he’s excited, encouraged by the invitation.
Still, of sophomores on varsity, I’m of, oh…say, twelve or thirteen minds.
I’ll bother mentioning just a few of them. Consider:

  • Sitting the bench as a sophomore is a waste of time. Take advantage of
    practices or it’s a lost season of development.
  • The sophomore on JV is likely to get minutes, has a shot at a leadership
    role, develops confidence and gains valuable experience.
  • If older players aren’t watched and the going gets tough (as in a sub-.500
    season), underclass players can sponge it up, suffer the brunt of it.
  • A right-headed sophomore who toughs it out (persistent and dependable
    effort, attends everything on time, etc.) stands to develop a better
    relationship with the v. coach.

Probably sounds like I’m anticipating the worst. Bad case of parental wariness.
Because no. 2 in the list best describes my experience with H.S. sports, I’m
burdened with a mild when-I-was-young bias. Of course this isn’t just
some arbitrary and inconsequential scenario. It’s the scenario. So
I’d better get busy suppressing my apprehensions, let this fine opportunity run
its course, and relax knowing that Ph. will make the most of it, like he always

Taming Week

Ph. is two days into a Shakespeare Camp at Thornden Park this week. He and
about ten others are working up costumes, practicing for a dance gig, and gearing
up to perform it at Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. opening of The Taming of the Shrew
at the amphitheater. They’re not shouldering the full play, exactly, just the
dance routine on opening night. And then on Friday, in a small showing for
families and friends of the actors and campers, campers will perform Act 1,
Scene 4: Petruchio’s Country House. Ph. is Petruchio, which means 70-some lines,

many of which
are used up with badgering servants and fawning over Kate.
Come out Thursday if you’re in Syracuse.

Continue reading →

EWM Cup 2006

Looking for a World Cup pool? Why not join this one? The stakes are
rather low: mere bragging rights are on the line. The
World Cup gets
going on June 9 and runs for one month.

Group details: Game Front,
Group: EWM Cup Gold 2006, Password: ewm. Or you can simply
to sign up.

For Kicks

Thursday Ph. finished his freshman
soccer season
without a single loss.  Well yeah, he had a coach and teammates who were
pretty good, too.

At alma mater, E. &
are ranked

7th nationally
with one regular season contest remaining–today against
the fourth-ranked team.  The national tournament this year is at Daytona
Beach in late November.  How far is DB from Syracuse?  Too far, I’m

Frosh Sent

Took in Ph.’s first home soccer match of the fall this evening, and I nabbed
this photo (and just a few others) before the batteries gave up.  He’s been
taking most of the corner kicks early this season, fine-tuning the slight,
sustained arch–a pass delivered to drop just so. This one turned into an
assist, and the ensuing goal made it 4-0.  For those of you keeping up with

his schedule
, the match ended up 9-4, sorta high for futbol.

Parabolic Pass

JV Soccer

Here’s Ph.’s soccer schedule for the fall.  I suppose I might be read as
a doting fan-father, the type who hyper-celebrates all things to do with sport
at the expense other stuff (such as reading, the arts…).  Yeah, whatever. 
Ph.’s been playing soccer since he was four; I am a fan.  The first
scrimmage was this afternoon.  Afterward we grabbed a quick-cook dinner
from Price Chopper, hurried home to put it together, then picked up D. from
class so we could all attend the two-hour family orientation at NHS.  Only
this time I was thoroughly impressed with the staff, the student tour-guides,
the presence and involvement of teachers, administrators and the principal.  High school…wow. Came on fast.

Continue reading →


Yesterday Ph. picked out cleats for the fall.  No slowing down in these;
they won’t allow it.  I’ve never
seen shoes that made me feel so fast and so much like running just by looking at


On the subject of fast, he’s got to muster a six minute mile in
about two weeks.  To pep him up for it, I broke out one of the
when-I-was-young parentals
(that genre of uphill both ways; obscure,
groan-summoning lore of self).  Told him
that in college, guards had to break 5:30 and bigs had to make a mile under six
minutes before we could move workouts indoors in the fall.  And lap three,
lap three was my nemesis–the impossible leg of end’s not quite in sight. (To
say nothing of the heated debates about who was a guard and who was a big. 
Imagine the enthusiasm of newly converted 6-2 power forwards.)  But like so
many kids who hear the when-I-was-young parental, he rendered my wisdom
inapplicable: "We’re running it on a straight-away."  Hence, no lap three. 
But still, that anyone as lumbering as me can hit 6:00 ought to be of some
encouragement, don’t you think?  And if only I’d had shoes this glimmering-fast…

Added: Observing that I’m blogging about his cleats, Ph. just leaned in
to look.  Me: "Shiny, aren’t they." Ph.: "I just cleaned them." (He had a
summer league match last night.)

Spectral Season

D. and I drove over to Marcellus this afternoon to take in one of Ph.’s last
soccer matches of the fall.  I can’t overstate the value of getting off
campus, winding through the CNY countryside this time of year.  Several
amazing scapes surround on Syracuse’s edges; we turned off at Marcellus Falls
just before arriving at the field.  I probably won’t be able to take in
either of the last two matches (next week), and I still hadn’t snapped any pics
this season, so we had several good reasons to make the 30 minute drive. 

The digital camera’s been on the shelf all fall.  I’ve used it
intermittently–wacky in-house blogabilia, but nothing like I was doing a year
ago when chronicling these
, wtg E. et al.) was my mainstay.  So I dusted of the
electra-kodachrome, shuttered a few moments from today’s match.  Below, two
of my favorites.  More photoshere.

Build-Up and Dispossession

We motored over to the soccer stadium near Manley Fieldhouse around 1:15 p.m.
today, fifteen minutes after the start of the men’s soccer match between SU and
Boston College.  Tied, they were, nil-nil.  It was beautiful, sunny
weather.  Syracuse, I’ve concluded, is a town shrouded in weather
moods.  When it’s sunny, great place.  When it’s cloudy/rainy,
straight pits.

Ph. got in for free b/c it was Youth Day.  B.C. is currently ranked #8
in the nation, it turns out; they were deep in SU’s backfield when we arrived
mid-way through the first half.  

SU’s got a young team this year, and their reputation in soccer is
unremarkable.  Orange soccer, in my regard, is anxious soccer, or so
it was today.  Touch, touch, dispossession.  Touch, dispossession.
Dispossession, dispossession. And while I’m certainly no expert on the finer
points of high-level soccer, I understand one of the basic tenets of
passing-oriented team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.) to be build-up: coordinations
of spacing, angularity, control, and distribution.  In hoops, the gem play
is the give-n-go (well, fine…not to mention the screen-n-roll–an entry for
another day).  In futbol, it’s the give-give-give-give-give-give-n-goal (or
SOG)–all predicated on masterful control and possession, which seems immensely
more complicated because it is hands-free and kept by boundaries.  

Perhaps because the level of Big East soccer is extraordinary, the
build-ups for both teams today were sub-par.  The kick-away style,
characterized by desperate long-balls, was so glaring that Ph. and I started
counting sequences in the second half.  (Of course, it’s not official, but)
SU had a total of two strings with three passes or more; BC had as many as seven
or eight strings of three passes or more, including two strings of five
gives–the best examples of possession and sharing of the last half of the
match.  On one of the three-pass build-ups, BC scored the only goal of the
match. Final: BC 1, SU 0.

SU’s next home match is against Georgetown on October 3, but I don’t know whether we’ll hurry back to the stadium or grow into full-blow Orange soccer fans.  It was Youth Day, after all, and near the end of the match, a frustrated player let loose an f-list curse toward the kid-filled stands.  No jog-over acknowledgements after the match.  And I get it that sports can be frustrating, disappointing, etcetera, and that classy programs tend to be winning programs these days.  If nothing else, it added to a sense of nostalgia about the program at my last U., where vocal cussers, rare as they are, do push-ups on the sidelines and the entire team and coaching staff always–home and away–clap an appreciative gesture, even after a loss.  And so it doesn’t concern me that Ph, for now, has recanted his wish to be a ball boy.  Doesn’t concern me one bit.