I know participation trophies get a bad rap these days, and I’m not totally in disagreement with that view. Truthfully, though, I never excelled at sports (no one’s shocked with that confession) and probably wouldn’t have ever earned a trophy other than one that said, “Good job, Talie. You showed up. You weren’t the best/fastest/highest scorer, but, heck, you were here and you tried. Bravo! Let’s celebrate!” (When it comes to watering down academic awards, however, my nerdy self does get a little more fired up, but that’s probably because of the aforementioned lack of natural athleticism.)
Our spring soccer season just ended, and we’re definitely sad to see it go. Emma Vance played in a church league previously, but this season we enrolled her in a proper soccer club in hopes that her skills and passion would grow. We definitely lucked out that one of the player’s dads is an AMAZING coach (like, he-missed-his-calling good), and it was so much fun watching E.V. make new friends and find her place on the team.
Let me just mention, for the record, her place was definitely Team Encourager.
E.V. has so much heart — perhaps a bit more heart than natural talent, but, gosh, I love her for it. She had such a good attitude and a generous spirit throughout the season, encouraging her teammates and passing the ball to others literally every time she touched it. We did have a low moment at the last practice when she could not, for all of her efforts, make a goal as quickly as her teammates; she was so discouraged that she wailed that she was “the worst player on the team.” (Talk about a heartbreak moment for both of us!) So I pulled her to the unused side of the field, let her shoot and shoot and shoot until she got it, and my little glass-half-full girl ran back to her team with triumphant shouts.
Fast-forward to the end of the season, where we celebrated an awesome season with Gatorade and popsicles. Coach Kyle handed out the medals from the soccer club, told each girl how proud he was of them, and then gave each player their trophy (which the moms had purchased just for our team — the ultimate participation trophy stigma, haha!). Emma Vance acted like he was handing her the World Cup. Seriously, it was adorable. I think it was a moment she’ll remember forever, and that trophy is now proudly displayed right next to her bed so that it’s the first thing she sees when she opens her eyes in the morning. Because sometimes showing up, being there and trying your hardest are worth celebrating. So is being the Team Encourager. Bravo, E.V.!