Team Mom: good sport

Written by Bess Kercher

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game, right? That's what local mom and writer Bess Kercher keeps telling herself as she navigates the world of team sports with her two sons leading the charge. Find out how a non-athletic mom uses sports to better understand the game of life in this fun series, ‘Team Mom.’

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When I was at Davidson all students were required to participate in a team sport. As you can imagine, this obligation could have threatened my plans to graduate -- but thankfully, options to fulfill the requirement included participation on a flickerball (or "touch football") team. Social clubs and dorms and most groups at the school formed teams, and the hall counselors for my freshman hall convinced us to form one as well.

A perk to this situation involved our coaches: two cute upperclassmen who volunteered to see us through our novice season. They diligently held practices, optimistically created a playbook full of complex strategy, and kindly asked our hall counselors to let them know if we had any questions. After this last piece was conveyed to us at our weekly hall meeting, we came back with one inquiry: would they mind removing their shirts during practice?

You’re probably not shocked to learn that we weren’t very good, in the traditional sense. And by “traditional” I mean that we knew what we were doing, scored a lot of points, mastered any legit plays, or improved over time to a respectable level of competence.

But we were good in other ways. We had a good time, for one thing, a goal of utmost importance in college. We created a bit of a name for ourselves among the other halls with our aggressive pseudo-play (admittedly, it was “those b*%@#$! from 2nd Rich”). And we came up with our own formula for success.

If we were on offense, our one main play was to get the ball to Lizzie, a superstar athlete who was incredibly fast. Before anyone could process what happened to the ball, she was careening into the end zone. During one game when we were getting creamed because Lizzie was doing work/study as a student trainer for the men’s soccer team practicing on the next field, we screamed for her help. She jumped off of the bleachers, ran over to our field, scored a touchdown, and went back to the soccer scene. This entire episode took about three minutes.

If we were on defense, we had Christy and AR just scare the hell out of the competition. Not in any kind of belligerent, ugly way – but more like we are in your face CRAZY and can’t be responsible for what happens next scary. There was a lot of maniacal laughter and intimidating posturing. I think it is important to note that no one got hurt in the making of this defense tactic . . . but very few scored, either. It was awesome.

Now that I am the Team Mom I hope my young players will encounter a sports opportunity akin to my flickerball escapades. No grueling practices, no pressure to win, no worry about awards and accolades. I hope they enjoy a team experience that reaps other unforeseen life-long benefits . . . like that cute upperclassman flickerball coach who would one day become my husband.

And like those amazing women who tore up the field with me waaaay back in 1988 . . . years later I still give thanks for those friends and all of our shared experiences, starting with those wonderfully messy, imperfect afternoons. We couldn’t know then that our flickerball days epitomized an innocent time – we would find out soon enough that life is not always fun and games.

But for one awesome semester season, it sure was.

Bess Kercher, M.A. lives in Charlotte with her husband and two sons. When she's not coaching, refereeing, or cheering at Kercher Field, Bess is a writerwhose interests include the social construction of personal identity, especially concerning women in the internet age. Her website hosts a collection of her stories and blogs and can be found at