At the national Sierra Mist MLS Dribble, Pass and Score finals at Pizza Hut Park Saturday in Frisco, Texas, it's easy to identify the parents of each child on the field.
They're the ones inching to the edge of their seats as their child takes shots at the targets attached to the goal. They're the ones armed with cameras and clicking away as their child navigates a slalom course.
One such parent is Don Poole, whose son Scott competed in the boys aged 12-14 group.
"I wasn't too terribly nervous. I was confident in his skills. I felt like he could do well, and that's what I was looking for," Poole said. "It looks like he did well, very well. I was very pleased with everything he did and very proud of him."
Scott did very well, indeed, winning his group. He and the five other winners will be given medals at halftime of Sunday's MLS Cup Final between the New England Revolution and the Los Angeles Galaxy at Pizza Hut Park. Kansas City Wizards midfielder Chris Klein will be on hand to present the honors.
Scott Poole's journey, like those of the other competitors, started with a local competition. The Lumberton, Texas, resident then moved on to sectionals and the FC Dallas team championship, both held at the Hoops' new stadium.
According to Don Poole, it's been an incredible trip, culminating with a visit to a beautiful brand-new stadium. "I think it's just fabulous. For kids who have been watching soccer, following soccer and playing soccer, this is, I'm sure, a dream come true. I know it is for my son," he said. "To be able to come and get on the field where the Major League Soccer players play, that's just got to be an awesome feeling." The DPS competition, which began in 1998, is a test of three namesake skills. Competitors earn points for completing the slalom course -- a test of dribbling -- as fast as possible, and for passing and shooting the ball accurately. After the team championships, the top four scorers in each age and gender group (boys and girls aged 8-9, boys and girls aged 10-11 and boys and girls aged 12-14) nationwide were given an all-expense paid trip to MLS Cup to compete in the national finals.
In addition to Poole, the national winners were Amir Bashti of Menlo Park, Calif., in the 8-9 boys group; Sarah Waldo of Bedford, Ind., in the 8-9 girls group; Konnor Tranoris of West Des Moines, Iowa, in the 10-11 boys group; Katie Hadfield of San Jose, Calif., in the 10-11 girls group; and Marie Egan of Littleton, Colo., in the 12-14 girls group.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.