The Jersey

by Peter Froeberg
Cupertino, California, USA

The Jersey

My son Zack is an accomplished soccer player, an avid student of the
game, and something that his mom is particularly proud of, exhibits good sportsmanship on the field. However, my favorite “soccer story” has nothing to do with any of these things.

In the fall of Zack’s kindergarten year I organized and coached his first soccer team. His teammates consisted of seven other kindergartners, a few of them from his school but none of them previous acquaintances.

A child’s first sports team brings a very special moment in life getting their first uniform! Zack was no exception. One night before practice I received a package of jerseys, shorts, and socks from the league. Being 5 years old, Zack wanted to be #5 on the Eagles. Being the coach, I let him take the #5 jersey from the package along with his shorts and socks and fold them neatly in his soccer bag in preparation for our first game that Saturday.

During practice the next day the kids were excited about our first game that weekend and the promise of getting their very own soccer uniform. At the end of practice came the moment they had been waiting for as I pulled out the team “package”. With each jersey I pulled out of the bag, hands shot up as I expounded on various magnificent players who had worn that particular number. As I got to the last little boy on my team I reached into my bag and was horrified to see that there were no more jerseys! The league had only given me seven jerseys, and I had neglected to take inventory the night before!

I was speechless for what seemed like minutes. Before I could find words my son reached into the bottom of his soccer bag, removed his neatly folded #5 jersey, handed it to me and said, “Here Dad, he can have mine”. Now I was really speechless. Fortunately, the other parents weren’t and each commended him on this thoughtful action. As soon as we arrived home I called the league chairperson to pick up that missing jersey.

On Saturday, I don’t remember how Zack played. I don’t even remember if our team scored a goal. What I do remember is that there were two players on the Eagles wearing #5 on their jersey.

Originally published as HeroicStories #67 on Oct 5. 1999
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 1.

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