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Stoetzer: Living life as a rec sports parent, if just for one day | COMMENTARY

I got pretty much everything I needed from the world of rec sports Saturday morning and into the afternoon by going above and beyond my duties as the uncle of a youth lacrosse player.

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping out when needed and enjoy getting updates from the family on how things are going with rec sports. With a niece and nephew involved in their share of athletics, weekends are chock-full of places to go and games to play.

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Now and then it’s up to someone else to pitch in to make the travel plans a success. I volunteered this weekend, in part because I know at some point I’ll ask for the favor returned (I’ll need to borrow a pickup truck eventually, no?). Truth be told, it’s a bit of a treat to venture out to one of the county’s rec and parks venues and soak up the experience.

I had a few days to go over the itinerary, so there could be no last-minute gaffes on my part. Boy needs a ride from his house to the field, which should take 15 minutes or so. No problem. I needed gas in the tank and a coffee in my hand, but I was prepared.

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Breaking news, it’s picture day. Mom and dad almost forgot, but not to worry. Just add a little more time to the trip. He’s not my kid, but do I have to make sure his hair is combed and he looks good for the photos?

Oh well, it’s on him at this point. I trust he’s ready to go with his equipment by the time I arrive. Success! My 30-minute journey to his house is smooth, and now I’m planning my next coffee run as we set out for the lacrosse fields.

We’re one of the first to arrive from his team, and after I check with his parents for the all-clear I skip out to secure another caffeinated beverage. It’s an hour before game time, so I’m in no rush. I think I hear someone from the practice area say something about “it’s canceled,” and for a moment I wonder if this will be a quick trip.

Nope, false alarm. Good. I’m here for a youth lacrosse game with the rest of the parents and family members, quite the slice of rec sports life.

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Younger kids play near the field on the framework of soccer goals that have been turned upside down. Not the pinnacle of safety, but it keeps them occupied. It looks to be 4 or 5 feet off the ground, with tall grass underneath. And they look to be at the age where their bones are still part rubber.

A few yards away, most parents have set up their stadium chairs along the sideline. One is recording all the action with a camera and tripod, while others hang on every ground ball and face-off and let loose with over-the-top enthusiasm.

I find an empty section of bleachers, behind the fray, and enjoy my iced coffee with a little too much cream and artificial sweetener.

It doesn’t take long to figure out the opponent isn’t quite as talented as the team I’m supposed to be rooting for. A 10-goal halftime lead has me wondering if they use running clock at this rec level (spoiler alert — they do once it gets to 12 goals, which it did in the third and fourth quarters).

I’m sending score updates as text messages to parents and grandparents not in attendance, but the dispatches don’t last long. I’ve spotted someone I know who has a son on the local team, and we catch up for a little while during the game.

Wait, am I supposed to be getting photos or video clips? I think I just missed a face-off. My nephew’s in the midfield, but soon gets switched to attack and in an instant buries a shot from close range.

I see it with my eyes but not my phone, so I’ll just have to tell everyone what happened. Not very rec sports parent-ish of me, but I’m a novice.

The good guys win 17-2, and despite the out-of-county boys’ pregame spirit — I heard one player say to his teammates, “Look scary! We might win the game before it starts. I heard that from a really good football coach” — the mismatch was evident from the start.

Time for a celebratory post-game meal, a tradition I certainly enjoyed in my rec sports days. No snow balls or ice cream from the concession stand, though. We dine on Chick-Fil-A with the rest of southern Carroll County, it seems, although there’s nothing like a well-oiled double drive-thru lane to make a long line bearable.

We eat fast because, hey, we’re hungry. But I need to return my precious cargo before the rest of his family gets home from an out-of-state rec sports excursion of their own. They’ll hit replay soon enough to do it all over again.

One day’s worth is enough for me.

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