I was dreading the stress of the day, which included worrying whether or not I would have enough players to host not just one, but two soccer games. When the success or failure of an event that is so close to your heart lives or dies on the whims and social schedule of 17 and 18 year-old kids, it can be a tad worrisome.
|2018 Grace Cup Boys and Girls Teams|
As it turns out, all that stress was for nothing. I have no better chance in controlling the actions of teenagers than I do in controlling the weather patterns that seem to change from minute to minute in central Illinois.
|2018 Lincolnwood Alumni Game|
|Brothers - and goalies in the Alumni Game|
While I was stressing out about how many players we would have and what those players and their families would think if the game wasn't up to par, others were working to make the game a success behind the scenes.
|Charley playing soccer with her cousins.|
|Herschelman cousins at the Grace Cup|
Travis Matthews, one of my closest friends since I could walk, took care of game balls, referees and inviting some special guests, some of his youngest players from Impact FC, who walked out with the big kids. The looks on the faces of the younger players reminded me why I wanted to do the Grace Cup in the first place, to grow the game of soccer, in addition to raising awareness for INAD.
|Daddy and his girls before the game.|
I'm sure there are others who played a role that I'm forgetting, for which I'm sorry, but no one helped more than my beautiful wife Mary. In spite of her more than valid concern over my mental health when I said I wanted to add a girls game to the mix, I didn't hear one "I told you so," when I had my greatest struggles.
|Galer/McLaughlin Clan at the Grace Cup|
|Herschelman Family at the Grace Cup|
Even with all of my crazy the past few weeks, she has encouraged me to not give up on the Grace Cup. She has reminded me that it's always better once its over and that the impact on the players and their families is what matters.
And she's right. Even if only a few of those kids were moved by Grace's story, it's worthwhile. This year we had two former Grace Cup players officiate the game, Brendan Zeller and Steven Cowles (along with Steven's brother Joe), while Kenny Lauderdale and Aaron Webb have also played.
|Fun family photo together at the Grace Cup|
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that this year won't be the last Grace Cup. I know that there is a pretty good chance I'll be pulling my hair out next June, hoping that the players show up and that the weather stays dry, but I also know that anything I go through is way easier than what Grace has to go through every day.
Thanks to everyone who supports us on our journey and we'll see you next year at the Grace Cup on June 8.