I read a comment recently that got me thinking about tryouts for select teams and how they are often perceived by parents:

To the clubs it’s all a number, to the child waiting at home it’s personal.

There is no question that tryouts can be a very stressful and difficult time for kids. Those trying out for a select team for the first time wonder if they are good enough, those that are returning have bonded with teammates and coaches and want to return to a team they hold dear. When the call doesn’t come or a child doesn’t make the team they hoped to, it is easy to get angry at the league and the people you know helped form the teams. It is easy and probably comforting to think that it really is just a number to those involved. But as one of those involved in selecting teams, I can tell you for many it probably is much more personal. League officers are often dedicated volunteers who do what they do because they love kids, the game of soccer, and helping young athletes develop.

When you’re tasked with helping to evaluate and select players for the ‘top teams’, it’s a stressful responsibility. Personally, I find it the most stressful time of the year. Sure, it’s easy to place 95% of the kids, but it’s those last few, who all scored very close to each other, and you only have one spot left. In small and mid sized leagues, it’s next to impossible not to know some of them. Heck, many may have coached them at one time or another.

So, yes, there may be leagues that manage to treat everything as a number, but I’m sure it’s less common than many believe. I’m sure I’m not the only one who stresses over it, questioning decisions, wondering what if, dreading the next time they encounter a player who didn’t make a team. So if your child doesn’t get that slot they wanted, it’s OK to be upset – but before you consider directing any ire at the people tasked with making those hard decisions – put yourself in their shoes, having to make decisions about kids they’ve known since they were 4, children of neighbors, and possibly friends. It has to be done, but I doubt you’ll find many league officials who enjoy tryout week and the selection process that follows. So keep that in mind when tryout results are announced. It’s likely a lot of debate and soul-searching went into some of those decisions.