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Archive for Monday, May 4, 2009

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‘I’m proud to be a soccer mom, frankly’: Don’t expect to find these local parents on the sidelines

Stacey Wohlberg, Lawrence parent.

Stacey Wohlberg, Lawrence parent.

May 4, 2009

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Colleen Harrell, Lawrence mother of two, tries to score a goal during a soccer game at Langston Hughes School. Whether experienced or novice, adults can join the Lawrence Adult Soccer League if they’d like to participate.

Colleen Harrell, Lawrence mother of two, tries to score a goal during a soccer game at Langston Hughes School. Whether experienced or novice, adults can join the Lawrence Adult Soccer League if they’d like to participate.

Stacey Wohlford, of Lawrence, greets children in the back of the family vehicle during halftime of a rainy April game at Langston Hughes School. Wohlford recently found her way back to the soccer field after taking 27 years off.

Stacey Wohlford, of Lawrence, greets children in the back of the family vehicle during halftime of a rainy April game at Langston Hughes School. Wohlford recently found her way back to the soccer field after taking 27 years off.

They may drive mini-vans or SUVs and haul their kids to and from soccer practice, but don’t you dare call these mothers “soccer moms.”

“I am what I am,” 45-year-old Lawrence mom Colleen Harrell says. “I drive an SUV. I have soccer and softball stickers all over it. If that’s a bad thing, then, oh well.”

But Harrell is among a growing number of women, who instead of just pacing the sidelines watching their kids have all the fun, have decided to lace up their cleats, strap on the shin guards and give the sport of soccer a try.

“I did not play growing up,” Harrell says. “I’m a native Kansas girl, and we didn’t have soccer in Kansas in the ’70s. Girls’ sports at my high school were confined to volleyball and basketball.”

So when she had two daughters of her own, Harrell wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on the opportunity to play.

“Soccer is just a great sport,” she says. “I was determined when I had kids that they’d be active. They started out in kindergarten playing soccer, both my girls did.”

Harrell was always involved, taking her daughters Bailey, 14, and Madison, 12, to their practices and games. She currently serves as team manager for both girls’ teams.

But Sundays are her days, as she and other moms take the field, participating in the Lawrence Adult Soccer League’s recreational division. And you don’t have to have moves like Mia Hamm to take part.

“I’d never touched a soccer ball before playing,” Harrell says. “I learned the game from watching the kids. Playing myself has given me a greater appreciation for what they do out on the field.”

Mother of two Stacey Wohlford, 37, recently found her way back to the soccer field after taking 27 years off.

“I’m playing again because my brother and husband wanted to join a co-ed team,” Wohlford says. “I did it reluctantly, but I am so glad I did.”

After not touching a soccer ball since about the fifth grade, Wohlford says she plays now to stay in shape but more importantly to have fun. It’s the one time out of the week, if only for about 90 minutes, that she has to herself. Although during a recent game she did have to take a break to take her 6-year-old daughter to the port-a-potty.

“Every mom should have something to do, apart from their kids, just for themselves,” Wohlford says, “and I highly recommend a good thrashing game of soccer.”

Most of the moms bring their kids along to watch them in action.

“I think it’s great for them to see that soccer and sports aren’t just something you do in school when you’re young,” Wohlford says.

Sossina “Nini” Negash, 35, says her kids are her biggest fans.

“My children are proud to have a soccer-playing mom,” Negash says. “My son brags to his friends about (me).”

Despite growing up in Ethiopia where soccer is one of the most popular sports, Negash didn’t really start playing until about 16 years ago when she moved to Lawrence to attend Kansas University.

Now she can’t get enough of it.

“My soul loves playing,” Negash says.

She would encourage other moms to take up the sport, too.

“I am constantly trying to recruit other moms into playing soccer,” Negash says. “All the women I have gotten to come out to play have stuck with it. It is simply a great sport that keeps you moving and thinking.”

So, call them “soccer moms” if you must.

“I’m proud to be a soccer mom, frankly,” Harrell says. “My kids are active, and I think I’ve set them up for a lifetime of physical activity. It will just be a part of their lives.”

Negash adds: “I don’t have a problem with the term soccer mom. I just simply tell them that I am a soccer-playing soccer mom.”

But just remember, they could probably take you if you ever wind up going head-to-head on the soccer field.

“I say, ‘Bring it on,’” Harrell says.

Comments

jrlii 4 years, 11 months ago

Do team sports set the stage for a lifetime of activity?

I kind of wonder: The fat, couch-potato ex-football player is a well established stereotype.

I tend to think that individual sports like tennis or non-sport activities like dance would have a much greater likelihood to carry over into adult life.

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Wendy magillicutty 4 years, 11 months ago

thank you kasper! I'm always wondering how I'm supposed to get myself, three kids (two with safety seats) and a husband around the town with a 4 seat hybrid? or we should bike everywhere and then you could bitch about the damn family of 5 hogging the road. Oh, wait, I know, I'll succumb to negative remarks by total strangers on a local newspaper's website and stay home all the time.

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madmike 4 years, 11 months ago

Personally, I would like to get little Prius decals so I can put them on the driver's side. If I kill five, I become an ace in my SUV!

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madmike 4 years, 11 months ago

Grimpeur has his/het/it's panties in a wad today. What she drives is none of your damn business, as long as she didn't steal it!

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SoundMind 4 years, 11 months ago

Can someone . . . anyone . . . please point me to anywhere in the article where it says anything - at all - about people talking on the cell phones while driving.

Irrelevant, much?

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Donnuts 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow, I think my regular self astralprojected into grimpeur this morning. Hey dude, good luck with the neighbors.

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BigPrune 4 years, 11 months ago

grimpeur, a closed mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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kasper 4 years, 11 months ago

if you notice she has 4 children in the car probably plus a husband get off you high horse and leave people alone. its negative people like you who judge others that are the real problem.

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grimpeur 4 years, 11 months ago

"dude if you drive a suv you or a nature hater"

Sucker mom is more like it if you're gullible enough to buy and put your family in an SUV. If that's a bad thing, oh, well.

"Oh, I drive a 6,000-lb vehicle to keep my family safe while I'm speeding the quarter mile to the high school, tailgating the car in front of me in traffic, yapping on the phone about nothing, surfing the net, studying my navigation screen to determine the best route for my 0.5-mile trip to the video store, and stirring the turbinado into my macchiato. Wouldn't want to endanger my precious cargo." How about 1) learning to drive; 2) paying attention; 3) slowing down; 4) setting a good example for your kids? I guess some things are more important.

I wonder if this person knows the girl who recently wrote in to cry that she needed to use her phone while driving. What do you expect? This is the kind of misguided sense of irresponsibility being foisted on kids who see these bad examples from grown-ups trying to look important and claiming to be so busy that they just have to talk on the phone while driving. News flash: you're not that busy, so stop it. And you're sure as heck not important enough to endanger others on the road just so you can play with your toys behind the wheel.

Need an SUV. Need to be on the phone. Need to drive a mile instead of walk. Above all, need to be seen doing these things.

Tough-guy wannabes who never grew up but who still need to project the image, old fat dudes with nothing else left but money to waste, children off to KU with their first oversized wastemobile instead of solid driving experience/lessons, and sucker moms. There's your typical and sad SUV customer base. Get off the road, posers.

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waka1 4 years, 11 months ago

dude if you drive a suv you or a nature hater

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Donnuts 4 years, 11 months ago

That was the most beautiful picture I have seen the LJW print in a while with a notion that adults can learn something and be active. Great idea.

When I was young, and I am their age, there was no soccer and they know this as well. I am proud to say we as Americans are finally joining the ranks of what I thought was a great sport way long ago.

Go for it! .... oh what you drive, ha ha ha.

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sourpuss 4 years, 11 months ago

I have nothing against athletics - I played them myself. What I do object to is driving around an unnecessarily large vehicle, which seems to be part of the "lifestyle choice" of the so-called "soccer mom". There are a lot of negative connotations about soccer moms, but they must stem from observed traits. That is not to say every soccer mom is like the stereotype, but some must be or we wouldn't have the stereotype to begin with.

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Jake Esau 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm really glad this is happening. I've been a soccer referee for over 8 years and seen too many people that don't have a clue about the game. I'm hoping this helps people understand what's going on out there on the field.

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bearlybrewed 4 years, 11 months ago

Cool...I never argue with a chick who wants to play in the mud.

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