Sunday, May 15, 2005

Silent Saturday in Lagrange

On any other normal Saturday in Lagrange, people approaching the Stringham Road soccer fields would be greeted by the noise of hundreds of parents and spectators cheering (and sometime shouting) on the sidelines. But not on this, the first Saturday of play in the Lagrange In-House Soccer Program. The Club participated in “Silent Saturday,” a day of voluntary peace and quiet at the games.

It’s not uncommon to see, and hear, enthusiastic parents screaming and noisily cajoling their kids from the sidelines. But when you add up a pair of shouting parents for each child on the team, and sometimes grandparents and siblings, across 25 fields, what you get is more like deafening, high-pitched insanity. So for this one “Silent Saturday,” all spectators and coaches of the soccer matches were asked to keep quiet. Yelling, howling, whistling and other noises directed at the players were not allowed. Polite clapping at the end of the quarters was allowed as was applause for the whole team after a goal was scored.

Cheers and jeers alike were virtually silenced throughout the day. The occasional outburst by an enthusiastic parent or coach was greeted with polite reminders by the referees of the voluntary silence. Ken Naktavicius’ son, Nicholas, plays in the 6-year old league. After accidently cheering his son he said, “Oops! Do I get a timeout for that?”

He added his thoughts on “Silent Saturday” saying, “It teaches kids to communicate with each other, team companionship and how to think on their own.” He added that he thought it was a good idea for one day, “But they do need the coaches comments to help them improve when they play. Especially in the 6-year old league.”

After recent outbreaks of violence at children’s sporting events, mostly by overzealous parents, the Club thought it would be a gentle reminder to everyone about what was important. At the beginning of the year, coaches also distribute “codes of behavior” for the children and spectators as an effort to discourage unsportsmanlike behavior. One coach said, "We distribute them, whether or not they read them is something else entirely."

Ellen Ramey of Lagrangeville added, jokingly, “The coaches should be able to say something, especially if they are headed toward the wrong goal!” Her daughter Sarah (5) and son Ben (9) both play in the Lagrange League. “It’s a good idea,” she said, “It encourages you to focus on the kids and helps them have control over their own game and sometimes it gets so loud, the kids can’t hear the coaches. I think it’s good!”
Ramey, a 5th-grade teacher in Pawling, said, “It puts the focus on the team rather than individual players and their skills.”
“Next Saturday, of course,” Ramey adds, “things will be back to normal but maybe a bit quieter…hopefully.”
For more information about Lagrange Soccer, visit their website at


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