For our family, as focussed as we are on sports - particularly our older two boys' rep soccer - this time of year also marks a significant change as the summer season winds down and tryout season starts.
The rep soccer banquet is a big event for us, a way to celebrate another successful year of working and playing together, a chance for the players to have fun together off the field and an opportunity for them to hang out together one last time as a team before, inevitably, some move on to other clubs or to focus on another sport. It's a chance for the parents to spend time together socially and a chance for the coaches and manager (me!) to relax, off-duty, and just enjoy the togetherness with the team. It's a chance to get dressed up, a night out at a nice banquet hall with lots of food and drink and music.
An awards presentation recognizes the players for their hard work over the last year, a make-your-own sundae and open candy bar pumps the athletes full of sugar after dinner and a DJ keeps the kids rocking on the dance floor under the twinkly lights until well after midnight. The kids look forward to their rep soccer banquet as the biggest celebration of the year.
This year's banquet was particularly poignant. My older son will be moving on to another team next season - we're in the midst of tryout season now, three weeks of non-stop tryouts and training sessions with his top choices of clubs. So banquet night this year was also a good-bye to teammates, to coaches, and to a club that has become an important part of our lives over the last few years.