Back in 1994 the Regionals were held in New Jersey. It was that year I learned this lesson the hard way. A lesson that all these experiences with the youth game should be enjoyed, because they are not around forever.
It was that year I was fortunate enough to be selected for Youth Nationals. I remember it clearly, I was in some shock as I stood in the parking lot just after leaving the fields after being told. My dad was near by, he was assessing at the tournament and had taken some time to watch me that day to make sure I was behaving myself. He didn't know yet, or at least didn't let on he knew about me going to Youth Nationals.
I was just standing there watching a match from a distance and the SYRA came up and said, "Well, I guess that's it." I snapped out of my daze and said something to the effect of, "Just what are you talking about?"
"That's it. You're done with the youth game after Nationals. Time for you to move on." He pated me on the back and he and my dad walked off discussing if it would be okay for my dad to watch me in Minnesota.
I just stood there dumbfounded ... and started to cry.
That was it? All that time, all those friends and experiences ... done? Years of refereeing flashed in my head.
Yes. That was it. It was just about the end of my competitive youth refereeing career.
I barely took the time to take it all in along the way. One day I was refereeing 6 a side matches in Walpole when I was 12 years old ... the very next it seemed, I was on a flight to referee in the most prestigious youth tournament in the US for me. It was too much. I continued to choke back tears for a few minutes just watching that match from the parking lot. Trying to cope with having to let that part of my refereeing career go.
So why do I offer such a personal story?
Just as a thought.
Take the time to enjoy the ride. It does not last forever, and may just end sooner than you may like.