Where I promise not to let youth sports take over my life

“That’s not a bumper sticker I would’ve guessed you’d ever have.” One of my besties was pointing out the new soccer club cling, stuck right next to my Great Lakes sticker, right next to the parking brake on the van.


Soccer? Youth sports? Wasn’t I the one who contributed to a chapter about time, someone who talks and talks about sabbaths and being the boss of our own schedules? How did we let this happen, this endless slide into kids’ sports? And … did I mention that Dave’s coaching this team of our daughter’s? Suddenly there are games and practices on my otherwise heavily guarded weeknights and weekend afternoons.


Three covenantal friends get in a boat …

We were stuck in the middle of the lake. Lake Lansing. This was Saturday and we’d had enough wind for the sailboat to show off and take us over sandbars and fish and water that felt warm because Lake Michigan had been so cold last week.

But the wind was shy so there we were, Sarah, Tom, and I—three-fourths of the Small Things adults—leaning back against the sides of the borrowed boat. We were like the bobber on the end of both fishing poles I’ve ever held: closer to still than actually bobbing. I had only been sailing once before—and I use that phrase to mean “I sat in the boat while my friend Sarah captained like a boss.” This time, she and her husband instructed me to pull a rope a couple times, so … “I sailed a boat” is now something I can put on my life’s resume.


A reminder for when the idealism fades for neighborhood schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools; Grand Rapids, Mich.

By Meryl Herr

Guest writer

This year as winter lingered, quickly freezing any sign of spring, my passion for investing in our neighborhood public school grew cold. My hope, my idealism, my energy wore thin.  

When the cracks in my perseverance began to show, doubt seeped in and a familiar idea took root: “Do what’s best for your child, what’s best for your family.” Was this low-performing, under-resourced public school the best choice for my child?


What a difference seven miles makes to schools, students

Seven miles.

Seven miles here covers three school district boundaries, each distinct. I’ve been thinking a lot about that number lately, as I’ve taken up moonlighting as a substitute teacher. (Writing doesn’t pay the bills and patrons are hard to find — call me if you know a guy.) As a sub, I’m a casual observer and active participant in a day with a bunch of different kids and professionals. I love these people. And it’s obvious: going inside schools matters.


Choice programs give new meaning to ‘school shopping’

We got a haul one weekend earlier this month. We got sales pitches, free pencils and pens, and plastic cups with logos. Each schools’ booth in the Eastern High School gymnasium was trying hard to capture our attention — and our kids’ — with free swag and candy — or pet a snake, color a button, make a Lorax mustache, spin the wheel for a prize. The kids dumped all their goodies in a free backpack with an orange Tiger logo on the back, then asked to go see the next booth, the next one! They’re passing out emoji erasers!


What it looks like to choose the local school anyway

By Courtney Everts Mykytyn, guest writer

Los Angeles, CA

When our oldest was approaching kindergarten in our corner of Los Angeles, I was worried. Kindergarten is a big step and he was such a little boy and, well, I had caught school anxiety from fellow parents, colleagues, the interwebs, and simply via cultural osmosis. Which school would be the “right fit” for my kid and our family’s values? Where would my son and his younger sister truly thrive? School anxiety seems to be the very air we parents breathe. […]

Why our family struggles with Schools of Choice

Just about every weekday morning, I drive 12 minutes south to an elementary school in a Lansing suburb. All my girls attend this year: it’s a K-4 public school. We love that place: the teachers and staff are warm and friendly, art class rocks, the field trips are fantastic, the principal welcomes kids by name as they unload from the drop-off line.


Their story: Teaching players ‘what they’re capable of’

Maybe the most important work of the Lansing Youth Football Club team isn’t what happens on the field.

Sure, soccer matters to the dozen and a half guys on the team. Almost every day the players carpool to Lansing’s Francis Park for two or three hours of practice. Occasionally they scrimmage teams from Grand Rapids. They train for tournaments in Detroit, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“This (team) is our passion,” said one of the team’s captains, Damber Magar. Like most of the players on this independent soccer team, Damber’s family are Bhutanese and came to Lansing as refugees from Nepal. Damber’s family was resettled through St. Vincent Catholic Charities in 2010.