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My Favorite Part of Summer

It’s actually just one of my favorite parts, but that got too long for a title.

My kids have both played soccer since they were 5 and 3, respectively, so that’s over a decade of soccer spectatorship for us. For a really long time, that’s the only kind of soccer I was interested in.

In 2004, the guys who ran my company’s 401(k) founded a local professional team, the Harrisburg City Islanders. My company bought a sponsorship, but the tickets went to clients. I never got to go. My kids were still pretty young, so our interest was fairly low.

Fast forward a couple of years, maybe to 2008 or so. Number One’s coach encouraged the team to attend a game, and our local soccer club obtained Pro Passes so the kids were free. So we went. And we went again. And again and…

And now, attending City Islanders games is my very favorite part of summer.

Some of it is because of the game itself. But you all know soccer is a really low-scoring game. 3-2 is high excitement. So while we love the athleticism and aggressiveness, the one-on-one matchups, and the teamwork, there are so many other things that make the experience fun!

1. We get there during warmups. It’s summer. They sweat. As they come off the field to go change, they pass as close as 20 feet away. And they wipe the sweat off their faces. With the hems of their shirts.

2. We know the players as if they’re our friends. When they’re announced before the game, all the kids line up on the field for hand-slaps. They pass right through the crowd to get to the field, and at the end of the game, you can meet the team on the field for autographs. We used to call them by nicknames the kids made up for people they looked like. There was Chris (really Steve), a former trainer they had, and Mr. Weaver (really David), a music teacher at school, and a few others I don’t remember because the players are gone. Now, we call them by the nicknames they have for each other, like Schoey (David Schofield, the last remaining original team member), Pellie (Jason Pelletier, who sometimes rocks bleached blond spikes), Callie (Anthony Calvano, the shortest player but a defender who never loses a header to an opponent), and Biji (Brian Ombiji, the guy with the dazzling footwork). Yes, those are all girly nicknames. No, we would never say that to their faces.

3. The local crowd is very friendly. Unlike at a major professional sports event, where people get drunk and spill beer on you and throw things at each other and use filthy profanity no matter how many 10-year-olds are around, our crowd of 2000ย  is awesome.

4. It’s affordable. $14 for adults, $7 for kids, and you can buy three-packs at a discount, or buy through a local promoter for half price. Open cup games are even cheaper!

5. Every game that they win, they end with their theme song (“Get your kicks…City Islanders!”) and then play “Apache” by The Sugarhill Gang. As we leave the stadium, we play air bongos and jump when they chant “jump on it.” And really, those are symbols of two hours spent in pure enjoyment with my kids. You know, those iconic moments they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, and recreate with their kids.

What more could you want out of a summer pastime?

So what’s your favorite part of summer? Do you have a local baseball or soccer or lacrosse team you like to go watch? Or something else you love as much as I love the soccer games?


13 Responses

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun! We don’t follow many sports in summer. We spend a lot of it outside and weekends at a river camp with family. Mostly because we’re just too far away from any pro sports team to make use of it, but it sounds FUN!

    • That’s a great summer, though, Keri. Outside, active, familyโ€”perfect!

      We don’t have any major league sports around here, either, but I like the small market, low level teams. More approachable, and a lot cheaper! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I agree with Keri. That does sound like fun.

    But also like Keri, we don’t follow any sports team during the summer. The only thing we’ve added to our schedule is going to the concerts put on at our local amusement park. They’re cheap and we’ve gotten to see some great country stars. We just saw Easton Corbin. On July 9, we’ll be seeing Blake Shelton. We’re talking a very small venue so it’s up close and personal.

    come fall, it’ll be Un. of Arkansas Razorback football!

    • My in-laws do the amusement park concert thing. They get season passes every year just for that. They get a lot of the old-time big names. Like Bowser. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I love that! Thanks for sharing – made me smile. Isn’t it great to be a fan? We are big fans of two teams – the LSU Tigers and the Texas Rangers. We don’t get to go to too many games, even though we’re season ticket holders for LSU, but we have our own nicknames for the players. We spend most summer nights watching the Rangers so we were super-pumped when they ended up in the World Series for the first time last year…even though they didn’t fair so well.

    I love sitting on my porch with a glass of wine visiting with neighbors. I love that the kids sleep late and my morning as me, a cup of coffee and the blank page. I love the smell of sunscreen and the taste of homemade gaucomole made with the tomatoes and jalepenos from my backyard. I think I’m going to love the blueberries and honey Keri just brought me in her cute little mason jar. So many things…..

  4. So sorry I disappeared all day! Work, and then I buckled down to finish my revisions (yay!), and then there wasโ€”guess what?โ€”a City Islanders game tonight! LOL Just got home a little bit ago.

  5. Hmm, I missed this before, but that sounds like a lot of fun, Natalie! We really don’t follow sports much at all, but during the summer we try to get out on family bike rides and hikes, and we almost always get a trip in to somewhere.

    This year we’re going on a cruise with my husband’s family. My first cruise and my first trip with the in-laws… I know the kids are going to love seeing all the cousins again because four of them were all born within a two year period with my boys as end caps.

    But I might have to check out some soccer. For #1 alone… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • The cruise sounds like it will be awesome! I’m a bit jealous. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We try to do family bike rides and hikes and stuff, too, but my kids, as great as they are, get bored too easily and are too resistant. We end up not bothering because it’s a chore to make them. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  6. My girls played soccer when they were little, but went in different directions as they got older. Hubby is big into sports. Baseball, golf, football. Ack! I do love watching my kids play though. This summer it looks like tennis will be the sport of choice. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I would just go for “Apache” since it’s such an old skool kick-ass song!

    But my favorite parts of the summer are more quiet. The scent in early June of wild roses and honeysuckle as the family drives on our back country roads. Searching out the first strawberries in our yard with my two little ones. Eating home-grown tomatoes. Watching my girls chase lightning bugs as we sit and relax on the patio.

    I guess I’m a home-body.

    Though I do love the summer evening rides on my motorcycle too!

    Great post, Natalie!

    • It is a kick-ass song! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love all of those things, too, Ava. Summer’s far more than just events. It’s an immersion, and all those little details inform it. I love summer more now than I think I ever have before.

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