I think most parents have grand and totally irrational dreams for their children when they are born, or even before they make their grand entrance into the world. Astronaut. President. Sports editor at a small town newspaper. Whatever.
I was no different with Grace. From the moment we learned that our newborn would be a girl, I had Grace penciled into the starting lineup for the 2031 United States Women’s World Cup team. Position usually varied. I leaned toward goalie since Uncle Daniel volunteered his services as her keeper coach, but I thought she might be more suited for the field since I wasn’t sure she had the combination of insanity and stupidity that it takes to be a successful goalkeeper.
|Cheering for Team USA!|
The coolest thing about my grand and totally irrational dream was that Grace seemed to buy into it. The aforementioned Uncle Daniel got her a soccer ball just after she was born and it was one of her favorite toys. I remember several days of sitting on the couch with Grace on my lap, soccer ball on hers, and the two of us watching English Premier League games.
At about a year old, Grace would cruise the ottoman in our living room and we’d play soccer, kicking the ball back and forth while she giggled the whole time. Of course I’d give play-by-play, with Grace either scoring the game winning goal or a diving save to clinch the cup for the U.S.A.
|Our favorite princess is ready for the game!|
And then the walking slowed, then more or less stopped. Grace and I would still play ball, mostly catch while she sat on the couch giggling the whole time. We still play ball and it’s one of my favorite things to do with Grace.
With Grace’s INAD diagnosis in November, the dream that she would play for the USWNT became even more irrational than before. That doesn’t mean that the dream is gone. It’s just a little more farfetched knowing what may be coming up for my little girl.
The diagnosis also made Mary and I want to give Grace as many experiences as possible and for a long time the 2015 World Cup was on our radar. But when they announced that the USWNT was going to play in St. Louis on April 4, our focus shifted to closer to home.
|Daddy's favorite girls!|
We got eight tickets to the game the day they went on sale, four for Mary, Grace, myself and a Herschelman sibling to be named later, and four for Travis and Carrie Matthews and their crew, C.J., Claire, and one-year-old Cody, who required a lap instead of a ticket. Over the next few months, I constantly looked forward to the game. The only thing that got me down was that nobody sells a USWNT jersey in size 4-T, but we found a cute ‘Merica outfit for Grace and all was right in the world.
After covering an egg hunt in Donnellson and a bake sale for the princess, we made our way down to St. Louis. Usually things that you are anticipating this much somehow fall short, but the game met all of my expectations and then some. The game itself was awesome, with the U.S. winning 4-0 and scoring three goals smack dab in front of our seats just above the bullpen, but the best part was experiencing it with Mary, Grace and my sister Mikaela, who joined us for the game.
|Aunt Mikaela got to come to the soccer game too!|
I’m not sure how much Grace actually saw of the game (she doesn’t like sunshine much), but she loved being there. She laughed and smiled the entire time and having her sit on my lap for the most part of the first half may have been the best part my year.
There is something about United States Soccer that is inspiring. I think it’s the thought of them representing a whole country. Regardless of religion or race or sexual orientation, the members of the men’s and women’s national teams come together with one common goal, to win the World Cup.
Currently the most popular chant amongst the U.S. fan section is “I Believe That We Will Win” which builds to a crescendo and never ceases to give me goose bumps. It exemplifies the spirit of the national teams and of many Americans. It doesn’t matter what is standing in our way, we believe that we will win.
|This girl LOVES her daddy!|
And that applies to Grace too, whether she’s on the roster for the 2031 World Cup or not.
I believe that we will find a treatment and a cure for INAD.
I believe that Grace will get better.
I believe that we will win.