Sunday, August 7, 2011

On becoming the team manager from H-E-double goal posts

Somewhere between filling out the medical release form and measuring my nine year old for her jersey I was elected to be team manager of her traveling soccer team.

First order of business was to get Lily’s team to Portland in late August for a three-day, 400-team soccer tournament. I was told it meant finding an affordable hotel for the team to stay at. Piece of cake.

Or so I thought.

The first email from the tournament organizer (we’ll call her “Attila the Hun” for reasons which will become clear) was benign enough: “Please send us your payment for the tournament.” I forwarded it on to the appropriate person and focused on looking for hotel deals.

But wait.

That afternoon another email popped up from dear Attila, informing all team managers that this tournament is what they call a “stay to play” tournament. What does THAT mean, you might ask, and you’d be asking the very same question I was mumbling to my computer screen.

I read through the 5,000-word email to discover that it means if you’re traveling from out of town, you MUST stay at one of the hotels from the list attached in order to take part in the tournament. Whodawa?

Yep, sure enough, they had our check in hand and were telling us in no uncertain terms (5,000 characters worth of terms, no less) that we had to stay at one of the seven hotels listed or we couldn’t play in the tournament.

So my plan of finding us a screaming deal on Priceline went down the drain, and three nights in Portland was going to cost me at least double what it would have had I arranged it on my own. Let’s just say I was not very happy.

But the worst was yet to come the following day: “Fill out this form with all of your families’ names, numbers, emails, and accommodations plans. If they are not staying at a hotel, please provide us with the reason for going elsewhere.”

Are…you…serious, Attila? ‘Cause, Hun, this here is crazy talk.

The smart aleck in me wanted to put the following reasons down under the families who are staying with family or friends: “The Jones family has been on the run from the law for some time now and prefers to stay ‘mobile’ if you know what I mean.” Or “Mr. Davis has ties to a mob family in Portland and is staying at an undisclosed location. I could tell you where, but then I’d have to … well, you know.” Or “Our families will be moving from hotel to hotel and invite you to try and find us.”

Seriously, at this point I started feeling like I needed to (1) quit my job, (2) ignore my children, and (3) feed my family Tender Vittles so I could devote my time to this paperwork for the tournament.

But wait! The next day a newsletter from Attila plopped in my inbox with the hopeful title “What you don’t need to bring.”

Finally! A respite for the weary. They’re going to actually do their job and take care of stuff for us, you know, like most tournament ORGANIZERS do.

Sadly, that was not the case. I print it here verbatim (parenthesis mine). I promise you I’m not making this up.

What you don’t need to bring, from Attila:

• Bribes for the tournament director. (As if. Unless a punch in the nose is considered a “bribe” in Portland, you’re getting a whole lotta nothing from me.)
• Notarized medical releases. I think every team should have these, but that is up to you. (Of COURSE you think we should have these. And while we’re at it, I vote for blood draws and urine samples. Would you like a copy of each of our mortgages while we’re rifling through the file drawers in our basement anyways?)
• Birth certificates for your players. We pretty much go with the birth date on the player cards. It’s not our job to double check state association’s work. (One question Attila: What is YOUR job? I have yet to figure this out.)
• A bad attitude.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure my Good Attitude Ship sailed somewhere around email No. 2. If a bad attitude needs to stay at home, I fear that this team is in need of a brand spanking new team manager who is not mumbling to herself and finding twigs in her unwashed hair as she sleeps over her keyboard filling out the 145th form required to play in this tournament.

In looking for a nugget of optimism, I came across this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Mind you, Nietzsche is DEAD, however, so that didn’t do the trick.

And then I catch a glimpse of those adorable little nine-year-old girls with pigtails and soccer cleats and remember why I’m doing this and decide to just take one for the team and stop whining. We’ll see how it goes.

If I don’t write another column, you’ll know it didn’t go well.

Eileen Burmeister lives, works and manages a soccer team very poorly in Roseburg. She can be reached at

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