May 30, 2024
Sports Column

Bangor Parks and Recreation soccer puts focus on kids’ fun

For the third time in my life I am an interested parent involved in the youth soccer program of the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department.

Playing their games and practicing for them at the Union Street Athletic Complex, the fine facility on outer Union Street in Bangor, these youngsters go about the two hours’ work each week having fun.

According to soccer bylaws, laid down appropriately by the city, each player will be taught the basics of the game; be instructed and be encouraged to be a good teammate; and learn and be taught soccer skills.

Above all, volunteer coaches – along with the help of parents or guardians – will ensure that all players have fun.

I can speak firsthand about the level of the so-called volunteers. This 2008 fall season involves our third child in this first-rate program.

Old Nathan rolls out of bed pretty early on Saturday mornings to be an active participant.

This year, Nate is a proud member of his Montana squad, comprised of second- and third- grade boys.

Nate’s coach this fall is Debbie Gendreau, superintendent of recreation in the Bangor Parks & Recreation program. She is a veteran instructor, who is assisted by my wife Shelly, a former soccer coach at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor and in the Parks and Rec League.

Nate doesn’t seem to mind having his mother on the sidelines, and he responds well to calls of enthusiasm, coming from adults.

Me? I make light of the fact that I now have lost three boys to the European game. I haven’t quite given up on the fact Nate has a ways to go before I throw in the towel on his becoming a hoop player.

Our oldest boy Scott was a better than average basketball player before he gave the game up for full-time soccer.

Todd, the middle kid, actually flirted with basketball before he traded his sneakers for cleats.

I was a good dad and never pressured either boy to make the gymnasium their place of choice for varsity action.

To date, Nate is speaking of basketball, and he – like the other two – will never be under pressure to play the winter game.

This fall, Nate’s team will participate in six practices and six games. According to league bylaws, each child will play at least one half – halves are 20 minutes long – and coaches are allowed free substitutions to ensure active, enthusiastic participation by the youngsters.

According to coach Gendreau, “Coaches have displayed such a positive role during the years that 70 percent of them return each fall. They really enjoy the program and teaching the kids soccer.”

I’d say all of this reflects on not only the quality of the players, but also on the quality of the program.

I can say this without hesitation as a parent of three boys who have been in the program: This is as good as it gets for kids who love soccer.

30-Second Time Out

As the Boston Red Sox head out west to Anaheim, Calif., to take on the very talented Angels in a best-of-five division series, which begins Wednesday night, I couldn’t help thinking what a very sage coach once told me.

Retired hoop legend Bob Cimbollek once said that “it is during the postseason in sports that a team’s yearlong weaknesses really shine through.”

In Boston’s case, pitching inconsistencies by both the starters and the bullpen could lead to the team’s demise.

Cimbollek used to say that “playing on the biggest stage shines a very glaring light on weaknesses.”

I’d have to say I agree with the coach, and I’m, therefore, not expecting a World Series title from this year’s Red Sox club.

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