VIP Soccer.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I've been wanting to enroll Mason in some sort of sport for a while now. Problem is... almost all sports are on Saturdays... when Mason has ABA therapy. His therapist is actually allowed to go anywhere with us that doesn't involve water (i.e. swim lessons) so technically we could have had her come with us to any sporting event, but it seemed silly to waste a session with her just watching him play a sport, so we left the session alone and held off on the sports.

Until... VIP soccer!

My niece plays on the regular AYSO soccer team for her age level and my brother in law is her coach. Seth and I go watch her play often on Saturdays while Mason is at therapy. We were casually talking about soccer one day while over at my brother in law and sister in law's house when my brother in law mentioned that AYSO has a VIP team for kids with special needs. At first I thought Mason would be ok on a regular team, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right. So I inquired about it. Turns out that VIP soccer is on Sundays from 1pm-3pm! Score. I couldn't sign Mason up quick enough. The first game was this past Sunday and it was quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

The day before (procrastination at it's finest) we went to Dick's Sporting Goods to get Mason some cleats and shin guards. This was all a foreign language to me (I never played sports and neither did my brother) so luckily Seth could help us get what Mason needed. First day, we showed up early and Mason was a little nervous. We had been talking it up for a while and he seemed excited, but once we actually got there, he was a little shy and nervous about what was going to be happening. Together we all walked over to the table with the uniforms, we got his uniform, Seth changed him in to it, and he was all set. He started to warm up to the idea a little more by now and was eager to play.

With the VIP soccer team, the kids play with buddies. These buddies happened to be teenage kid volunteers who were with an organization through the city. A lot of them had previous soccer experience, but it wasn't required. The coaches explained to us that they like to have these teenage buddies for the kids vs just them as coaches because the kids don't feel as intimidated by them and work well with them.

Two buddies introduced themselves to Mason and asked if he wanted to kick the ball around before practice started.

And he was off.
And a love for soccer began.

On this particular day, it was probably 90+ degrees in the sun, but Mason didn't care. He played with the buddies for a bit before all the other kids got there and they started practice. The first hour (from 1pm-2pm) was warm up, drills and learning different skills. They did some jumping jacks, some stretches, and some other warm ups and then things like maneuvering the ball through cones and other foot work skills. The buddies were with the kids the whole time (as were the two coaches), showing them what to do, and keeping them focused on what they were supposed to be doing. Mason did pretty well, but did get distracted a couple times and wanted to switch balls every few minutes (there were TONS and he wanted to try them all lol). His buddy was so patient and calm with him. In fact all the buddies were with all the kids. These volunteers were truly amazing. Not only was it hotter than hot, they weren't getting paid and they were having to handle various challenges of working with kids of ranging special needs. I'm not even kidding when I say that I almost teared up once listening to some of the buddies talking to one of the kids. These kids parents are definitely doing something right.

Hour 2 (from 2pm-3pm) was game time. I use the words "game time" loosely since it hardly resembled a game, but the kids were having. a. blast! Half the kids kept their blue uniforms on and the other half put on a mesh green tank top-like shirt to make themselves the green team. I have no clue what a typical 5-year-old soccer game would look like, but for our game, there were no goalies. The buddies were on the field with the kids, but mainly to help them know which direction to go and to encourage them to run and kick the ball. The buddies never once tried to interfere with the kids game.

Mason LOVED soccer! Like way more than I thought he would. He went from being a little shy and scared in the beginning to wanting to play for forever. They gave the kids water breaks every so often and Mason would literally come over, take a sip, and want to go back out. We had to force him to sit for even a couple seconds to drink more water and then he was off to find his buddy. And at the end of the game, he was SO bummed it was over. Seriously he loved his buddy so much that he went over to help him with clean up and then pouted the whole way to the car and all the way home. Hopefully this excitement carries over in to this Sunday when he has soccer again!


  1. That sounds adorable and so exciting for Mason!

  2. OMG that's so awesome! So glad he likes it and how wonderful that they offer this program!

  3. What a cool program that they offer! So fun for Mason!!

  4. Mason is such a cute little soccer game! I love this program.


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