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Salisbury family playing soccer in San Ramon

The Six Soccer Salisburys of San Ramon

By Mike McGinley, 04/21/18, 8:30AM PDT


Read about one family's season with 6 children playing soccer in San Ramon.

When families have multiple children involved in sports or extra-curricular activities, life can get interesting.  When you have six children, all playing soccer on six different teams in one season, then life gets really interesting. 

One Family, 6 Soccer Players

Salisbury family playing recreational soccer in San Ramon

Article originally posted in April 2018.

When families have multiple children involved in sports or extra-curricular activities, life can get interesting.  When you have six children, all playing soccer on six different teams in one season, then life gets really interesting. 

For Curt and Heather Salisbury of San Ramon, CA, and their six children, this is exactly what they did last fall.

All six Salisbury children participated in San Ramon FC’s Recreational soccer program.

Hoping to get some insights about their youth soccer experience and advice on how to manage it all, we reached out to Heather Salisbury with our questions.

Heather was kind enough to provide in-depth answers and gave us permission to share them with you. 

Heather shares her thoughts on getting organized (Excel spreadsheets, anyone?), what qualities she most appreciates in a youth soccer coach (it is not a soccer IQ), and her advice for newer soccer parents.

Please read below for our questions and her answers.

Can you please confirm the spelling of your names? Also, please fill-in-the-blank, regarding your children’s ages.

Parents: Curt and Heather Salisbury

Children:  Nicole (16), Isaac (13), Ryan (11), Heidi (8), Brett (7), and Amber (4)

Do either of you currently coach or serve as a team parent for a team?

We currently do not serve as a team parent or coach.  Neither of us could coach because, during the week and especially on game days, we need the flexibility to be running all the kids around.

With any youth soccer parent, Saturdays involve getting their child fed, dressed, and to the field on time for their game. Please give us an idea of what your typical soccer Saturday is like. Also, we are going to assume you have expertise with doing this. Please feel free to share any tips you have about getting youth players fed/dressed/ready for games.

First, we go over the calendar the night before, checking if there are discrepancies between what we entered on the calendar and what the team email reminders say. 

Second, we make a plan of how to divide kids up depending on game times and locations, and, which parent is taking which group of kids.  In the case of the one Saturday each season when there are games AND pictures, a spreadsheet is required with times blocked out for pictures and games and uniform colors etc. 

I also make a list (write up or type) that the kids can see in the morning showing their game time and the color of uniform they need to wear. 

Having the kids responsible for getting their own things together is huge. 

We have a small bin in the garage for each kid where they keep their ball, shin guards, socks, shoes, and uniform.  We also marked each kids’ initials on their uniform tags, and shin guards so the kid who did not put his things away cannot take something from the kid who did. 

No more “discussions” about whose shorts are whose. This year I decided that next year we are going to get water bottles ready the night before too. 

You have children of different ages playing soccer, so you have a unique point of view. You can observe first-hand the similarities and differences with how children play soccer as they grow up. Can you talk about any similarities/differences you see between your younger and older children playing soccer?

Similarities: They all look forward to the season and have fun while they are playing.  They all like it when they have someone they know or a friend on the team.  They all love to score. 

Differences:  My younger kids are more concerned about their snacks than whether they won or lost or how they played.  As the kids get older they start caring more about how they played, details of specific plays that happened during the game and the outcome of the game. 

Do you see any differences, generally speaking, between boys and girls, in terms of attitude, interest level, expectations, etc.?

I would say there are more differences just between different children and their personalities than between genders, as far as attitude and interest level.  On the younger teams, definitely, the girls’ teams are a bit less aggressive on the field, but they learn.

Do you have any advice for new(er) soccer parents?

My advice for new soccer parents . . . do not push the kids too much.  They have plenty of time to find a sport they like.

Being force fed something they do not want to do is not going to make them like it.  

Let them try many different things.  Get their input on what they would like to try. 

For all parents, and I remind myself this all the time too, let the kids know you enjoy watching them play.

You have two older children who are playing. Studies show many kids drop out of organized youth sports by age 13. Our club offers teams and leagues for children through age 18. What have you done to encourage your kids to keep playing, as they get older?

Not much.  I think they genuinely enjoy being active and playing.  I think, generally speaking, if you start letting them try many things when they are young, they will find something they enjoy and being active becomes part of everyday life. 

Our older kids do not have iPhones and electronics are pretty minimal in our home.

While children may want to play, often the parents first introduce them to a sport. Did either parent play youth sports and/or youth soccer in their childhood? Do you, Curt and Heather, try to stay active as adults through running, yoga, adult soccer, or other activities?

We both played many sports starting from kindergarten on, high school teams included.  We both played youth soccer, baseball, and basketball through middle school. My husband moved his freshman year of high school and that played a role in his sports participation.  I played volleyball, basketball, and softball and track in high school. 

After high school, I had a roommate who got me into long distance running, so I have continued to do that. It is something fairly simple to do with kids and I have been pushing little ones in a running stroller forever!  

Prior to moving here a few years ago, I have always played on a city-league softball team as well.  Adult soccer? Where? Sign us up. 

With six games in one day, it can be logistically hard for two parents to see them all. If you “divide and conquer”, so to speak, between the two of you, how often are you able to attend six games? If it is not possible, do you try to rotate your attendance evenly? Alternatively, do you have other friends or family who can attend to support your child?

That is one thing I wish were different.  I really would love to watch every game of every child, but it is not possible.  We do not have family nearby. 

Between the two of us, we try to make sure that we each get to see several of each child’s games throughout the season. 

During a few seasons, we have had a friend on the team and we have been able to carpool to one of the kids’ games, but not every season.  Occasionally, we will be at the same fields as someone we know and there are times when we can help each other out with rides home or something. 

With multiple kids playing youth soccer for several seasons, you have experienced a variety of personalities and styles when it comes to coaches. Without naming names, what qualities or characteristics do you like best in a youth soccer coach?

Positivity without a doubt. 

There is always a way to give instruction in a positive way, even when a mistake has been made. 

Kids respond much better, want to improve/change try harder when you let them know they are a valued team member, coaches are respectful to them, AND when coaches expect respect in return. 

I was also extremely impressed by a coach this year that was not even my child’s coach but the two teams practiced at the same time and location and often scrimmaged. 

This coach knew my child’s name from the scrimmages, would give praise when it was deserved to all, made an effort after practice to point out the strong points of the child’s game, and even filled in for my child’s team when their coach was unexpectedly absent. 

Another year one of our kids had a parent coach who did not know much about soccer, had not even ever played.  My child still had a great year because of how supportive and encouraging this coach was.  

As a parent, and when I played as a child, I really like it when the coaches are active and play with kids too.  I think it’s good for the kids to see adults enjoying the game, being active and also doing whatever the requirements are (running, showing them how to execute a drill etc.)


Thank you to Heather, Curt, and their children for participating in this interview and providing us with their photo.  We are grateful to their family and all of the families in San Ramon who have chosen our club as their home for soccer.