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For one 5-year-old kicker, pink rules the soccer field

Aug. 9, 2007

At the Beulah Brinton Community Center, I became convinced of one thing: Dorothea West looks great in pink soccer shorts.

Truth be told, I wasn't the only one who became convinced of this fact.

When my nearly 5-year-old daughter sported her new pink soccer shorts to her wee tyke soccer class recently, all the kids, teachers and parents were convinced. I think the front desk attendant might have even gotten in on this bit of info, too.

My daughter has what you might call the gift of gab. When it comes to gabbing about pink soccer shorts, her breath support is legendary.

The day she sported her new shorts, she was bound and determined to let the world know they were both brand new and really, really cute.

When it comes to the business of head butts, stealth ball handling and goal tending, Dorothea's gift of gab kicks in. She might not be able to bend it like Beckham, but she certainly can turn quite a phrase.

I'm in no way one of these competition-crazed parents who yearn to see their children score the winning touchdown or break the tape at the finish line. I'll be happy if my daughters break a sweat from time to time and someday know the joy of Icy Hot after a good workout.

But I'm fairly confident I will never find myself calling a referee some four-letter name because my kid had a whistle blown in the face of victory. I'll stand down and enjoy some freshly popped corn if my girls decide to become jocks.

Kids more athletic than dad

I'm not looking for children who are superstar talents; though I am fairly sure my daughters both will best me in some feat of strength someday in the not-too-distant future. I'm proud of their athletic abilities, but I'm not going to go ga-ga and send them off to study with some Russian coach who will make them athletic machines, able to beat their own father in an arm-wrestling competition.

I mean, really, what father hopes to be pinned by his own daughter?

Dorothea swims like a fish, and I'm certain she'll save my life at a public swimming pool someday. Carmela, my youngest, is bound to climb rocks, hurl shot put and slam down any opponent in Greco-Roman wrestling. My kids are active, and that's enough for me.

Still, there is that moment of uneasy embarrassment I feel I must have when Dorothea succeeds in turning her Beulah Brinton soccer class into a rap session. I'm fairly certain the soccer instructors of the world don't consider a 5-year-old discussing the improved breathability of her shorts fabric from one week to the next a perfect display of her love for the game.

When I catch Dorothea chatting up the 6-year-old star player, I believe for a moment she is asking questions such as, "How do you avoid getting a red-card penalty when the kid guarding you on an opposing team is a real doodie head?"

Instead, when my ears home in on her conversation, I invariably hear things like, "Pink is my favorite color, and that's why I got pink soccer shorts for class."

Pretty sure pink is problematic

Pink may be the problem. Pink is a big part of Dorothea's life. Like many girls, she has a fascination with princesses, who - I've learned through the many books I've read, videos I've watched, and dress-up dresses I've tried to squeeze into - live in a world devoid of any other hues than those based in the pink palette.

Then there's the ballet itch that Dorothea is currently scratching. She doesn't believe real ballerinas might consider a black leotard. Oh, no. The real ones wear nothing but pink, with matching pink lip-gloss and light rose-colored hair bands.

There's not a lot of pink floating around a soccer field. Dorothea is single-handedly trying to change that with the pink soccer shorts, her pink T-shirt, tennis shoes with pink accents and pink, polka-dot-flecked sweat socks.

We've not attempted bringing her pink soccer ball - a rare find that made Dorothea beam with delight when my wife discovered it - to class for fear it might upset the black-and-white balance that is the classic soccer ball.

So it really comes as no surprise pink soccer shorts cause Dorothea to look a stranger in the eye and make him or her miss watching his or her own kid score a goal while she exclaims, "Don't you like my new pink soccer shorts?"

Kids set own priorities

Dorothea looks forward to soccer class, and the other kids don't seem to mind rambling on with her about how pink shorts are better than any others for proper shot blocking.

I've been told by other soccer parents that when the kids leave class and start playing on a real field, it's easy to spot the future gardeners because many of the young soccer players focus more on the grass beneath their feet than on the ball and scoring goals. Should Dorothea continue to pursue her soccer hobby, I think she might be one of those future farmers standing in a chalk-line field.

But I also think she might stop a referee while running down a sideline and ask, "Have you ever thought pink-and-white stripes on your shirt would be more slimming than that boring old black and white?"

Jonathan West lives in Bay View and he's proud of it. He writes about the neighborhood and the people who live here. Contact him at jonathanwest@tds.net.

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