It was as cold as charity at 8:30 a.m. on the West Tisbury School soccer fields last Saturday. The wind cut right through you, and it was periodically spitting rain.

The Vineyard’s fall youth soccer season was ending, not with a bang, but with a shiver.

Gregory Pyden medal
Gregory Pyden wears a medal smile. — David Welch

It might have seemed a sad end to the season — particularly considering that the previous week’s play had been abandoned to the remnants of Hurricane Noel — except that the kids didn’t seem to mind at all.

Bundled up like little Michelin men (but for one or two who obviously had antifreeze in their veins), the youngest of them, the Minikickers, took to the field with their usual enthusiasm at 8:45.

You could not even tell which team was which; the team T shirts were buried under so many warming layers. It made no real difference, though, for not many of the minikickers have much concept of passing to teammates anyway. Some are not even sure which way they should be running.

David Welch

Mostly they just swarm around the ball, hoping to get a kick at it.

And so, on this day, all pretense of getting them to play by soccer’s rules was pretty much abandoned. A couple of balls were thrown on the field, and the kids charged happily back and forth.

David Welch

At the end, it was doubtful if anyone knew the score. Or cared.

The greater concern for most kids was getting their end-of-season medals. They wore them proudly and posed for pictures.

David Welch

While in the following games for the older age groups things were more organized and goals counted, the games were played for the most part in the same good spirit.

And the medals, awarded not for skill but for having taken part, were just as cherished.