At the bottom on the left is an alphabetical list of the pages in this web site, to help you navigate if you feel so inclined.
A guide to our family photo album covering 1994-2010, showing the principal themes, is here.
A year by year guide to our family time-line from 1994 through 2007 is here.
A photo journal beginning in 2008 is here.
The most recent pages of the album, copies of posts from my WordPress family blog, http://ianstock.wordpress.com/, are linked here:
This was the year that our soccer became really intense, at least for the parents.
Let's start with one of the high points.
On the left, at the bottom left-hand corner, wearing number 5 on his shorts, the playmaking midfielder for the Santa Cruz County Breakers 97 Boys, our Alex. On the right, standing in white, unshaven, David Beckham, England's own, formerly of Manchester United and Real Madrid, capped over 100 times for his country, a total soccer star.
In the same photo!!
You may have noticed that small boys or girls now accompany the professionals on to the field at the beginning of all of their games. The Breakers, the youth club that both Charlie and Alex play for, somehow arranged for Alex's team to walk out with the Galaxy at this game.
Now, that's quite a memory!
The four of us were all watching the game, of course: Alex, Charlie, Marie-Hélène and Ian, high up in the stands. The photo on the right is of Charlie and Ean, a friend on his team, before the game started.
Now the hard part of 2008: Charlie's team did not have an easy year. It was very rough at times for the boys. Perhaps the seeds were sown over preceding years. The club had elected to promote two teams at their age, despite not having enough players to make two teams work.
The two teams came together in the fall, but that split up the boys who had been on each team. After a few games the club let the coaches go. After that, several of the players left too over time, for one reason or another. Or maybe just because of the bad vibes. When things go wrong in a team, they tend to go wrong in a lot of ways.
By the end of the fall season, the team were down to nine or ten players (a soccer team is 11, plus substitutes), with not enough players on the field, no goalkeeper, and no substitutes. That was the rough part for the boys.
We were so proud of Charlie for soldiering on through thick and thin. He wanted to quit too for a while, but he kept going. Hopefully, there are lessons in life here, and we think that he will remain as enthusiastic about the beautiful game.
The photo on the left above dates from January, when the vibes were still good and Breakers 95 White still had at least the 13 players in the photo and had won the first tournament of the year. They went on to make the quarter finals of State Cup, but we don't have a lot of other pictures of this team for 2008.
They did win another tournament during the year, the Breakers Cup held in Santa Cruz in early August, and the players showed real heart and character to do so despite the already increasing problems.
Alex's team also won that tournament in his age group. On the right is an action shot of Alex taken there by Eric Price, a team parent. Thanks Eric!
We can't see the ball, but we can see that Alex had just taken a shot, and how!
On the left is Alex's entire team, the Santa Cruz County Breakers 97 Boys, with their two coaches at Breakers Cup. They had a fun time!
During 2008, the club only promoted one team of this age group, as its 17 players confirm. The coaches ensured that everybody got to play in most games, and the boys were almost uniformly happy and psyched.
The contrast with Charlie's team and its two team arrangement was striking. Santa Cruz County is not large in terms of population, and modeling the Club on teams in areas of five or ten times the population needs to be thought through carefully.
On the right is another photo of Alex (thanks again, Eric!), this time lining up one of his trademark through balls.
One of the challenges facing youth soccer is paying for it all. There are coaching fees, referee fees, field rentals, uniform costs, tournament fees, not forgetting club fees! How do they all get paid? You guessed it, mostly by the parents! In one way or another.
Alex's team has great fundraising ability. The photo below left shows this skill in action.
John Pak organized this concession stand, with help of course from other parents, and it paid a significant portion of the team's expenses during the season.
John is the tall guy in the back on the left as you look at the photo. The stand was set up at the Breakers Cup, and did a thriving trade throughout the competition. A few of the team moms banded together and cooked tamales which were then sold at the concession. Other parents put in a couple of hours or more setting up or serving the customers.
Great cooperation. Great teamwork!
We're going to sneak ahead into 2009 here, because in March 2009, Alex's team deservedly won the 2008 edition of NorCal State Cup.
There’s always a bit of luck involved in winning a long tournament with increasingly skilled teams. But after they pulled back from 1-0 down in the final at half time to win 2-1 at full time, well, you can imagine how good we all felt. Especially the boys!
Here they are, in the drizzle after the game, positively gleaming. They're number one!
Mark Hogenhout, their able head coach, has had his say and is looking back at them from behind, facing the camera, as he moves on.
It was a great way to bring a difficult year's soccer to a close.
Now, if ManU could just sort themselves out a bit!
Here are the other 2008 photo journal pages: Tom living in Paris, Alban out and about in Santa Cruz, Ian on a short visit to family in England, Maman, Papa, Charlie and Alex taking a long weekend down the California coast, birthdays and other special days in 2008, portraits in 2008 and, last but not least, the main 2008 journal page.
Listing of Pages in the Site
. . . with Alban