Sprinting off the field, pulling on their shin guards, they reach for their bottles of Gatorade and huddle together to discuss strategy for the next play. Their teal and pink shirts are spotted with sweat, and they glance anxiously over to the bleachers — not worried about the crowd, but about their children, who are playing nearby.
These women give new meaning to the term “soccer mom.” No longer can she be described as a minivan driving, bob-haircut-wearing woman who brings orange slices to every game. These women are carting their children to watch Mom play.
Kelly Mescher spent 14 years watching her girls play soccer, and now it’s her turn on the field.
Mescher’s youngest daughter, Kelsey, plays soccer for Hickman High school and enjoys coming to her mom’s soccer games.
“I try and give her words of encouragement,” Kelsey Mescher said.
Kelly Mescher started playing in a soccer league with a few other Hickman soccer moms. Her team, the Desperate Housewives, plays on Tuesday nights at the Missouri Athletic Center, located at 2900 Forum Blvd.
The Women’s Novice league, hosted by the MAC, consists of six teams named: Mombas, Desperate Housewives, Hot Broads, Danger Kitties, Hoochie Mamas and Striking Beauties. The games kicked off the second week of March and will conclude the second week of May.
The MAC offers soccer leagues for men, women and kids as young as 6 years old, and also hosts many leagues in volleyball, dodge ball and other sports.
“I was coming to the MAC for my two kids who were both in soccer leagues,” said Michelle Mueller, a Mombas player. “I was sitting for two hours with nothing to do, and I found out about the women’s league and decided to play while my children were participating in their leagues.”
Mueller played soccer in high school but had not played again until she joined the league.
“This league is nothing like high school,” Mueller said. “The girls back then were brutal. It is definitely more relaxed now, and playing is like a stress reliever for me.”
For Mueller, the league offers an alternative form of exercise in a sport she enjoys.
“When I think of leagues for women my age, I think bowling,” Mueller said. “I don’t like bowling and golf is boring.”
And the health benefits of joining a sports league are nothing to be overlooked.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says that even less-intensive activity, such as walking, stair climbing, gardening, yardwork, moderate housework, dancing and home exercise can help to decrease the risk of heart disease. More strenuous exercises improve the health of the heart, which can lower heart disease risk even more.
However, for moms and/or career women, time is often a constraint. The Illinois Department of Public Health advises these women to choose an activity that they enjoy. Mescher said she agrees with this tip.
“One of the many appeals of the soccer league is that the exercise is not tedious,” Mescher said. “I don’t think about exercise when I am playing. It’s not anything like the treadmill or other machines.”
The American Heart Association recommends that women choose exercises they not only enjoy, but also ones that add variety to their lives. It also recommends women surround themselves with supportive people.
“This soccer league has allowed me to get out and do something that I enjoy,” Mueller said. “It has been wonderful.”
HEARTY CONCERNS FOR WOMEN
Heart disease isn’t just a man’s disease. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are devastating to women, too. In fact, coronary heart disease, which causes heart attacks, is the leading cause of death for American women. Many women believe that cancer is more of a threat, but they’re wrong. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease and stroke than from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer.
In 2000 in the United States, cardiovascular diseases claimed the lives of 505,661 women.
One in five females has some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
38 percent of women die within a year after having a heart attack, as compared to 25 percent of men.
During the first six years after a recognized heart attack, the rate of having a second attack is 35 percent for women and 18 percent for men.
The death rate for coronary heart disease in 2000 was 187.5 for black females and 145.3 for white females. The death rate for stroke was 78.1 for black females and 57.8 for white females.
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health
STICKING WITH YOUR WORKOUT
Choose something you like to do. Make sure it suits you physically, too. For instance, swimming is easier on arthritic joints.
Forget “no pain, no gain.” While a little soreness is normal after you first start exercising, pain isn’t. Stop if you hurt.
Get a partner. Exercising with someone else can make it more fun.
Vary your routine. You may be less likely to get bored or injured if you change your routine. Walk one day. Bicycle the next. Consider activities like dancing and racquet sports, and even chores like chopping wood.
Choose a comfortable time of day. Don’t work out too soon after eating or when it’s too hot or cold outside. Wait until later in the day if you’re too stiff in the morning.
Make exercise fun. For example, read, listen to music or watch television while riding a stationary bicycle. Find fun things to do, like taking a walk through the zoo. Go dancing, learn how to play tennis.
Don’t get discouraged. It can take weeks or months before you notice some of the changes from exercise.
Source: the Illinois Department of Public Health