It was supposed to be a typical soccer game like any other. Parents drove from across Southern California to attend a soccer tournament in Temecula. Even though we recently moved and changed soccer teams, my daughter’s former club team still extended the invitation. My daughter thinks she is the female version of Lionel Messi, who is considered the best soccer player in the world. So she really wanted to go. My wife and I have to remind her that Messi played more than 10 minutes a game without getting his feelings hurt.
Their team did well, finishing 2nd in the tournament! Great, right? No. That means Dad has to attend the awards ceremony. Not only am I in Temecula, which is about 60 miles north of where I live, but the game is played on a horse track. So we all smell and now I have to stay an extra hour. Did I mention that I am missing the best weekend of football?
They finally started handing out awards and my daughter is second to last in line. One more player to go and I am out of here. Then it happened. All of a sudden everyone starts running. Its a stampede! What is going on? I try talking to a parent and her words come out jumbled. She is frantic and screaming. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Then I hear the word…. SHOOTER!!! I slowly start surveying the large soccer fields but don’t see or hear anything. It feels like time is standing still for me. I stay calm as I survey the landscape.
Then I hear a voice—as if I have Kal-El (Superman) hearing. It’s my daughter’s voice crying out of the crowd! I shout out to tell her that I am here and to start moving towards the car. I am still surveying the landscape and don’t see anyone or hear anything. I start heading to find my daughter. My gut tells me it is not an automatic rifle. I don’t know why but that is what I am thinking.
My daughter is freaking out as we jog to the car. I notice she is running really fast. She is definitely worried. We get to the car, get in, and she immediately ducks. I said, “don’t worry, Dad is here to protect you and we have a good car to get out of here.” It is 4-wheel drive and we are on a dirt track. Naturally, I punch it and we bolted out of there!
Five minutes after we left the area, my daughter receives a text from one of her teammates. As it turns out, two parents got into an argument and one pulled a gun on the other. Damn. C’mon, soccer Dads! They take this way too seriously. Thank God no one was harmed.
Phew. My daughter is okay and not too traumatized. I calm her down by taking her to Starbucks and then we head back home.
I thought all was well. Then she tells Mom the story. Uh, oh. I get an earful that I shouldn’t just stand there and should be protecting my daughter. I understand completely where she is coming from. However, I instinctively believe that the best defense is a good offense. That is how I operate. Besides, we never knew what direction the shooter was in. If we panicked, we could have run straight at them. I explained to her that I had to survey the situation before reacting.
Three days later, my wife is still shaking her head about me trying to be some sort of hero. I gently remind her that I am in good shape and it is my moral responsibility to help those in need. Besides, I didn’t hear any gun shots. She rolls her eyes again. I remind myself that I should just lose this argument. I love my wife and she is about 38-weeks pregnant, so I have no chance at winning this conversation.
The times we live in have everyone on edge. It’s hard to believe that we have to deal with a potential gun battle at our kids’ soccer tournament. I am grateful that this didn’t escalate and that everyone is safe. However, I am saddened that my daughter has to live in this type of society. We need to do something about this!