For moms, a relaxed approach on the field

AT PLAY

League takes mothers off sidelines and puts them in the middle of the action where the goal is to have fun

At Play

July 12, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Red Hot Mamas -- clad in red jerseys -- were leading the Strikers by several goals. Still, they were on the offensive late in the second half. That's when two opposing players suddenly collided.

Instead of angry words or trash talk, both players responded in the same way: They apologized on the spot.

"It's a very laid-back league in the way they approach [things]," said John Skintges of Columbia, whose wife, Tiffany, plays in the Soccer Moms League on Friday nights. "They're much more just out there to have fun than to win or lose."

The league is one of the most popular at Soccer Dome, according to President Clif Everett, who said it began in the mid-1980s and moved to different locations before settling at the indoor facility in Jessup.

The league's popularity grew to the point where it had a waiting list, a problem that was solved when a second Soccer Dome opened last winter in Anne Arundel County.

"We just covet them," Everett said. "We love that league. We'd have them in here every night if we could."

Everett said the league has a nine-week season, with two divisions at both Soccer Dome locations. The teams switch locations when the next session begins.

The league is a step up so that the women can enjoy the sport without feeling an overwhelming pressure to win.

"We just like to play soccer," said Tiffany Skintges.

And though it sometimes took several minutes for goals to be posted on the scoreboard Friday night, the moms knew what was happening.

"The moms keep score in their heads anyway," Everett said.

There were many women showing up with their kids, just as moms normally do during the day. The children played games on the side or cheered as they watched mom run up and down the field.

Helen O'Connell of Jessup has played in the league for several years but is sidelined by an injury this session. Still, she showed up Friday to say hello to friends and watch soccer.

"The fun thing is they come out and they strive to play well and to excel," said O'Connell, who coaches youth teams at Soccer Dome. "But it's not to the point of hurting other players or hurting themselves."

Joanna Knoch has an interesting scenario each week, playing for the Flying Hands team. Many players on that squad deal with hearing issues and communicate with hand signals, hence the nickname. Knoch does not have hearing problems, but she enjoys working with this group on the field.

"I look forward to playing every Friday," Knoch said. "I've made some good friends here."

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