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Daddy sharks show up for soccer match

Sure, you might see some “stars” on the field, but it’s not every day you see sharks on the soccer pitch. That’s why there was a photo opp like no other last Monday night at Swainsboro-Emanuel County Recreation Department’s youth soccer games.

The Chronicle looked to Mitchell Hudson, parent and shark, for context about the rare sighting. His daughter, Rosie, is on the team of 3- and 4-year-olds dubbed the “Sharks.”

As it turns out, there are a good many players on that tot soccer team who go to Hawhammock Baptist Church and whose parents are all in the same Sunday school class. Matthew McNeely and Dr. David Davis are the two other dads who got in on the shark action earlier this week.

McNeely’s wife, Joni, is the team coach. Hudson calls her “partial instigator” of the shark suit show.

“We mentioned when we found out our team name that we should play the ‘Baby Shark’ song on the sideline or get some shark suits, but it was all just a funny joke at the time,” Hudson explained. “I said in our team text group that when we win every game, I’ll dance in a shark suit for the team. This was still just joking around because this age group doesn’t keep score.”

A few practices went by. So did a few games. Yet, there remained a couple of the players who were still timid about getting on the field and playing—understandably so at that age. In that group of not-so-sure kids were the trio’s own children: Rosie; McNeely’s daughter, Piper; and Dr. Davis’s son, Max.

“We pretty much got together and said, ‘Okay, let’s make these shark suits happen and maybe inspire some fun!’ We didn’t care if we looked silly and if nothing else, they could laugh at their silly dads.”

Sure enough, they ordered some inflatable shark suits from Amazon and planned it out so that during halftime of Monday’s game, they would suit up and perform a halftime show the kids would always remember.

“We talked about doing a shark fight and the last one standing would be the winner. After thinking about it a little more and remembering how competitive us guys are, it probably wouldn’t be a good visual of grown men pushing and fighting in shark suits. Instead, we planned to do a shark race across the field instead and it was a sight to see! Dr. Davis put the shark fins in fifth gear and won the race! Matthew and I got close, and I gave it a good dive to try and catch up at the end.”

If you missed the show last week but would have liked to have seen it, you’re in luck. There’s video footage of the “magical shark race” on Hudson’s Facebook for folks to watch if they’d like.

“We had a great time cheering on all the kids, and we actually only scared about half of them. For the most part, though, they came around and we gave out lots of hugs and encouragement to get out there and play some soccer!”

Most of all, Hudson, McNeely, and Davis hope these kids enjoyed the silliness of the sharks. Perhaps, Rosie’s dad adds, this will be a reminder that sometimes the stresses of life can be lessened by a little lighthearted fun.

“Go out and enjoy a ball game. Paint a picture in nature. Go fishing, take a walk with a loved one, or take the kids out for ice cream and definitely get one for yourself too! Take time to have some fun in life. You won’t regret it!”

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