As the mom of two active daughters, almost any night of the week could be spent at soccer, swimming or softball. When first faced with the idea of all of my free time being taken up by these activities, I felt overwhelmed. How will we fit it in? Why do they have to have so many practices? Do they need to be doing all of this at their age? When are we going to eat dinner?

Once we figured out a rhythm to the activities, and my husband stepped in to coach some of the teams, I felt the overwhelm dissipate. With the logistics figured out, I felt better about the prospect of being a soccer / swimming / softball mom.

Then came the part about the other parents. Prior to our foray into youth athletics, the only stories we heard were about the fanatic soccer moms who insist on cut-up organic fruit and spring water for snack or the irate dad who screams at the referees the whole game.

I was pleasantly surprised to meet the other parents. They are even-keeled, supportive, funny and bring Doritos and Chips Ahoy for snack. They are equally as overwhelmed by the shuttling that needs to happen over the course of a week, especially when you have multiple kids in multiple activities.

They are busy juggling work, community activities, and caring for their parents.

I had no expectations that I would make meaningful connections at the soccer or softball field. While I wasn’t going to go to great lengths to separate myself from the other parents in contraptions like this, I hadn’t entertained the idea that the other sports parents could become my friends. Because we are sharing a stage of life, care for our children, and concern for our broader community, it’s felt natural to form connections with my fellow soccer and softball parents.

What I meant by “this”

Now, when I have to miss a game or practice, I’m equally as disappointed that I won’t get to watch my daughter as I am that I won’t have a chance to chat with the other parents.

The way that meaningful connections are demonstrated through youth sports are:

  • Getting or sending the last minute text asking if we can carpool.  The answer is almost always “yes” (and almost always handled by my husband). In a time when parents are super protective and highly engaged, entrusting another parent with your child is the sign of ultimate trust.
  • Wanting the other kids on the team to do just as well as my kids. The tunnel vision I have for my child widens the more I get to know the families and children.  
  • Inviting the whole team over for a barbeque or social activity. We could let the connection end when the game is over, but the desire to get to know the other families is strong enough to hang out long after the innings are over.

A fellow sports dad told me that when his child told him he didn’t want to play a certain sport any longer, he wasn’t upset that his child was giving it up. Instead, he was sad that he wouldn’t have a built-in reason to hang out with the other team parents.

Where have you found unexpected connections through your stages of life? My season of life is the soccer and softball field, but yours might be somewhere completely different.

If you’ve got tips on how you’ve navigated and made meaningful connections across your life stages, pass them along to the other readers. Send me an email at or comment below! 

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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