Reflections from a Parent

Remarks by parent Robin Leach – inducted into the Beachside Hall of Fame in 2013

Good Evening Everyone!

I would like to begin by extending a few words of thanks.

First to Mickey for the lovely introduction. When my eldest son Matt joined Beachside back in 1998, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t know what the concept of “premier” soccer meant. But we took the leap of faith and made the decision to entrust Mickey with Matt’s dream of playing soccer. Jeff followed soon after. In retrospect, it was a great decision.

And over the years, Mickey also took the leap of faith and entrusted me with the managing a couple of his teams. We’ve had a very productive working relationship. He has great vision for this club. He has always been a consistent source of input and direction for me. And I sincerely value both his support and his friendship.

It is a great honor to be here this evening and to accept this Hall of Fame award. For a suburban soccer mom to be included among a group of such gifted athletes is truly humbling. Mickey, I sincerely thank you for your consideration.

Next I’d like to extend a thank you to my husband Brian. First, for canceling his overseas business trip be here tonight. But also for being my “behind the scenes” co-manager all these years. Just as many aspects of parenting are a team effort so is the job of the manager. Brian was in charge of “directions”. He could always find the shortest route between Point A and B while avoiding the traffic. And when I needed him, he was always there to support and help me out.

And last but not least, I’d like to acknowledge my two sons, Matt and Jeff, for making the trip out from the city after a very long work week and also for giving up their Friday evening “free time” to be here with their mom. I truly appreciate it. I’ll have more to say about the two of them later.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to Tommy on his award. Tommy and I go a long way back. He and my sons played soccer together for years. His team and I shared many memorable pregame predawn breakfasts of bananas, bagels, and peanut butter in hotel lobbies all along the East Coast. Tommy’s induction into the Hall of Fame is a testament to his many outstanding accomplishments as a soccer player and as a young man.

What have I taken away from my experience as a Beachside parent and manager?

First, I got to watch some really tremendous soccer. So many exciting victories, some heart breaking and decidedly unfair defeats. But always great competition. And although we know that Mickey places process over results, I think we can all admit that winning is fun.

Second, I witnessed groups of young boys being transformed into outstanding young men. I saw rock solid alliances built on the field and strong lasting friendships forged off the field.

I learned that my fellow parents were a stellar group: they were willing to travel almost anywhere, gave up countless weekends and school holidays to support their sons. For that I thank them because it made my job that much easier. They always pitched in to help: car pools, the washing of mud laden uniforms at tournaments, hauling Gatorade, and were a continuous source of support to the team from the sidelines. We won’t admit it in front of Mickey but we did have a lot of fun and I continue to count among my closest friends the parents of players I met through Beachside.

But for me, my most special memory is the joy and pride I had watching my own children develop as both soccer players and young men. Our family was fortunate in that both boys chose to play the same sport for the same premier club. We were able to travel together as a family, enjoy some quality one on one time (they were captive in the car, they had no choice) and share our mutual love for the game of soccer. To survive I had to learn the rules, the lingo, the teams, the players. After many seasons, I believe I finally figured out what “off sides” meant. I even got my reffing license: more to show my son Jeff that I could get a better score on the test than him. Managing their teams gave me the opportunity to share more closely in their soccer experience. I got to be involved. As parents we know how difficult it is to stay connected with our kids as they grow up. Beachside provided Brian and me the opportunity to be a part of this very important part of their lives.

As I look back over the past 15 years, I see so many positive changes within this club. What started with just 7 boys teams has evolved to include a full complement of accomplished girls teams, a successful U20 team, and a thriving Juniors program. Matt’s team was the first to Disney in 2004, now Christmas at Disney is the rule. Not only are your teams participating but you are bringing back the trophies and that is a wonderful accomplishment. Our first banquet was held in cramped, rented office space: nothing of the size and scope of this wonderful event tonight. This gathering is a testament to the support of every member of this club: players, parents, extended family and friends, and the coaching staff. And now with the introduction of the Academy, this program continues to go from strength to strength.

Despite the changes, what remains the same is the Beachside mission. And it is this mission that continues to make Brian and myself such strong loyal supporters of this organization.

You’ve heard the message. Success is a Choice. As a young player you are instructed to be on time, bring your soccer ball, wear the correct uniform, line up your bag. You are encouraged to follow instruction, work hard, be a team player, to win and lose with grace. Simple rules. However, these rules are the foundation for a bigger picture. Not only are you being given top notch training and the opportunity to play and excel at the highest levels of the game of soccer but you are acquiring essential life skills: those of commitment, dedication, a strong work ethic, accountability, responsibility, integrity, and a willingness to help others. These traits are integral to your success in life both on and off the soccer field. This is what makes this club so special. It is a developer of both young athletic talent and of young people.

So in conclusion, I encourage you to embrace all that is offered to you here. Enjoy your time. It passes very quickly. Take the lessons learned with as you go out into the real world. They will come in handy. Beachside is truly a unique opportunity.

I thank you again for this very special honor. I will cherish it always. And I wish you all a wonderful remainder of the evening.