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“So what do you guys think the line is today? Our team +17?”
He’d just walked up to the soccer field and given Grant a slight shove to warm-up with his teammates before directing that statement to the parents who’d arrived. No one was really on first-name terms, even in their eighth game of the season. However, their children’s names were impossible to forget. He felt as though he’d signed Grant up for soccer with all the kids from Big Little Lies.
Blayde’s Dad was the first to reply. “At least that. Hopefully, it’s just not as bad as last week. Don’t worry — in two years, the games will be borderline watchable, trust me.” With that, he nodded to his oldest child who’d already played her game for the day and had her nose buried in her dad’s phone playing a game.
Popping his lawn chair open next to Blayde’s parents, he leaned over and looked towards Ryker’s Dad, who pointed out, “Look, they’ve only got three here right now. Even if one more shows up before game time they might be so tired in the fourth quarter that maybe we can do some damage.”
Without looking up from her phone, Blayde’s Mom chimed in, “The team two weeks ago only had four, and they outscored us like seventy to nothing in the fourth quarter.”
The parents sighed, and all instinctively took a swig of their respective potentially spiked beverages. It’d been a long year.
This league didn’t keep score, and neither did the parents really; they didn’t have to. Every game had been simple: a lot to a little. None of them could explain why their team had been spared the four-year-old superstars that other’s got.
A couple kids showed some promise as they hadn’t been shutout completely each week. While he was proud that Grant hadn’t cried or tried to quit all year, he hadn’t exactly been tenacious on the field. He had about four kicks total and zero goals on the year. His preferred in-game strategy was running around the group with the ball and yelling. It didn’t really lead to victory.
None of the parents were too distraught over this; they understood it was the lowest level of soccer possible and supposed to be nothing but fun. Still, no one likes watching their kids get the shit beat out of them each week. It was like watching The Bad News Bears every Saturday morning, except the coach wasn’t a drunk and a cig-smoking badass never showed up to make the team better.
While it was two minutes until game time and only three kids for the other team had shown up, Grant’s team still had a big problem. Paetyn’s mom sat up a bit in her chair and looked around. With a worried gasp, she looked towards the other parents and said, “Wait….where’s Annyston?”
He watched as Grant sailed a kick about five feet wide of the goal and ran his hands through his hair. He felt pity for his son because without Annyston (better known as “A-Bomb” by the parents), he wouldn’t taste victory all year. Not that he had any clue what the score was anyways, but still. It was the principle of the matter.
One minute left, she’s still got time… Oh God, Coach is starting Grant, Ryker, and Paetyn. Absolute disaster of a lineup.
The other parents echoed his thoughts, with Paetyn’s Dad going as far as, “Hopefully, she fakes a foot injury again so Blayde can come in, at least he knows where the goal is.”
As the starting threesomes were forcibly moved into their positions by coaches who were way too tired of this shit by now, he checked his phone to see the same variation of a text from Frank that he’d gotten the last six weekends:
“Hey man, tell my favorite little dude I can’t make, I feel bad that I haven’t been to another game but the whole family is getting together for my Grandma’s birthday. I’ll make it up to him, let’s get beers soon, bro.”
Both your grandmas have been dead for at least five years you fucking idiot, can’t even come up with a decent excuse anymore.
He smiled, however, because that was one less problem for him. His main problem was the travesty that was taking place in front of him, as the teenage ref had blown the whistle and set into motion the worst display of soccer that these fields had seen all season.
The good Lord had chosen today to shine the light upon Grant’s team, for this other team, unlike the seven juggernauts that had come before it, was also fucking terrible. Their one player that the parents had worried about — a light-haired boy about half a head taller than anyone on the field — was running around with his jersey pulled over his face.
His other two teammates weren’t much better, but the ball wasn’t making it relatively close to either goal. Grant got in on the action for the first time in weeks when a ball was kicked hard enough at him that it deflected off his shins and went out of bounds. The shin-shot came to a stop at the wheel of a stroller being pushed by Annyston’s Mom and carrying her baby brother. The savior had arrived.
Grant’s coach’s poor sad eyes lit up with hope for the first time since the first game and he quickly made substitutions, getting Grant and his fellow scoreless comrades and subbing in his own daughter, Blayde, and the recently arrived Annyston. The results were instant.
Annyston wasn’t the biggest or fastest player in the league, but goddamn was she tough as hell. Within two minutes of being on the field, she’d barreled over multiple kids in an effort to control the ball.
I’d literally pay Grant $150 to have this kind of killer instinct. I need to find out what her parents feed that child.
Over the course of the next three quarters, the parents witnessed a miracle. Annyston’s arrival, combined with the other team being trash, led to at least a seven-goal lead heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
For the first time all season, the squad was truly smiling and relaxing. When Ryker tapped in a goal late in the fourth his father celebrated by shaking his Yeti and telling the other parents, “I knew it was a good day to drink my lucky tequila!”
Grant was on the field playing the final minute and his father started to get one of those mushy nostalgic feelings that he just couldn’t help sometimes. Fatherhood had made him soft as puppy shit.
His first sports season, coming to an end just like that. Could’ve gone better, but could’ve gone way worse. No goals, but hey, at least he didn’t bite a kid or something.
The other team had a goal roll in (“Just a mercy goal!” said Blayde’s father jubilantly), and both coaches said, “Okay, last play.” Grant’s coach lined his three up to put the ball in play, with Grant at midfield as the player to kick the ball. The one thing the kid had going for him was a half-decent leg.
The opposition wasn’t paying much attention. Jersey-over-the-face kid was doing just that, while another child was latched onto the coach’s leg. The third teammate was staring at a kite in the sky, most likely wondering how it was possible that people still played with kites.
Grant got a running start and gave the ball all he could. It took off downfield and rolled and rolled, headed straight towards the goal. His father jumped out of his chair like he’d been shot, fist raised in the air. The ball limply rolled into the goal, and Grant and his father did matching fist pumps like they had won The World Cup. .
If you’re enjoying following “PostGrad Single Dad,” be sure to go listen to the latest episode of “The DadGum Podcast” live on Grandex Labs.