Soccer girls leave lasting impression on coach

Wok & Roll by Peter Kwong, (Frederic) Inter-County Leader
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How I love my soccer girls!

I’ve moved my family across the country many times because of my career — from San Diego to Arlington, Texas, then to Atlanta, and finally to Milwaukee. I never realized just how much pain it was for each move until we moved from Milwaukee to the Northwoods.

All the moves in the past were a piece of cake, as the companies who hired me would pay for all the expenses. They would have moving companies come to our house and pack up everything in boxes, then put them in a huge moving semi, and off they went to our destination. Then they would unpack everything, and even took away all the empty boxes and stuff, and all we had to do was to put everything away to the designated places. In a day or two, we were moved in. Piece of cake indeed.

Peter Kwong, soccer girls
Peter Kwong

It was not until the move from Milwaukee to the Northwoods that I finally felt the pain of moving. The physical and mental pain still linger after two years. Goodness.

This time, the move was voluntary. We wanted to be closer to our granddaughter, and no companies were going to come help us with anything (not unless we paid them); we had to do everything ourselves. What agony indeed.

First, in order to sell our home, we had to get rid of a lot of “stuff” which we has accumulated through all the years. Some we just gave to Goodwill, which is a great business.

Anyway, I am glad that I made the decision that Milwaukee was the final destination while the kids were at home. It is hard to move the family around, as we need roots.

I feel sorry for the Army brats who would move to strange places every time Mom or Dad got promoted. I’ve talked to folks whose family moved three to four times a year, living in different countries! Just how do you establish a relationship with anyone?

It was a rude awakening when I had a father-and-son chat with my son Justin before the move. He was about 10. We were living in Atlanta then. I was telling him what a wonderful place Milwaukee is, and how much fun we were going to have. He looked at me teary-eyed and said, “Dad, I just found my way around the neighborhood, and have made some new friends. What am I going to do now?”

A dagger just pierced through my heart. I have sacrificed my family’s interests just because of my career. “What am I going to do now, Dad?” That lingers in my ears and in my heart. I told myself right there and then that it would be the last move ever. Glad I kept the promise. No more moving; my family is more important than all the tea from China.

My daughter was 5 when we moved to Milwaukee. She was a happy child — loved sports, arts, loved to read and write; and she loved to have friends. The parents wanted to start a soccer team so the girls could learn about sports — the skills, the teamwork and to be competitive.

Growing up in Hong Kong and playing soccer my whole life, all the parents voted me to be the coach. What could I say? I recruited another dad to help me out, and a new saga was born.

Somehow, we found a name for our team — the Hurricane. Is that appropriate? Watch out folks, the Hurricane is coming through town. The girls were all from the neighborhood in a small town called Whitefish Bay. Same age, same school, same neighborhood, same interests.

Watching them growing up together was so heartwarming. Goodness, they were knee-high when we started our team, and now they’re all grown up, married, have successful careers, and some even have babies who will start our next soccer dynasty!

I am so very glad that we decided to stay in Milwaukee even though calls kept coming from different companies. “No”, I said, “I am not interested, and thank you very much for thinking of me.” I just couldn’t move my family around anymore. What a price to pay for your career.

Living in the Northwoods, I am just dumbfounded learning that many, many folks here have never lived anywhere else but in the house their grandparents built years ago. Oh, how I love the roots, growing up in the same environment. Just what comfort zone can you be in?

My daughter, Melanie, just visited her soccer buddy, Molly, who has a newborn child. Looking at the pictures she sent, tears just kept running down for no reason. I remember the good old days of coaching the team with my buddy, Tom, teaching the girls how to make each move and how to work together as a team in order to score. After all, winning is everything, right?

As a consultant, I was away from home often, yet Tom and I would fax each other on the lineup every week. So many factors to think about. Do we want our strong girls to keep the same positions so we can score and win? Or shall we move our second-string girls to play the key positions so they can learn? I am so very glad that all my soccer girls have remained friends after all these years. So very glad that I made the final decision of not moving my family anymore just because.

I love my soccer girls, and I am glad to see them being true professionals and becoming soccer moms now. What joy it is. I will never ever forget those fun days.

Thanks, my dearest Hurricane!

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