What Child is This? Chucho Meets the Mad-Dog

photo credit: cuellar via photopin cc
photo credit: cuellar via photopin cc

There are many stories when your girls play in a Latino soccer summer soccer league, and Christmas is be a strange time to tell one. But it was a proud moment, and as it turns out, spiritual, even.

As I scrape my windshield on winter mornings, my thoughts drift to summer.

My girls love to play. They’ll pull off a dirt road with me to a dusty field, beyond taco trucks and amid Mexican polka rattling from car stereos.


They love to play, even when that Good Ol’ Boy team falls behind by 3, 4, 5, 8 goals against the Latin Coalition. Players switch jerseys between games and play wherever they want. It’s Us against Them. My girls thrive on that.

Half Latino and half white, my girls can carve out a nation all their own.

Elise is a midfielder by trade. She’s a goalkeeper out of necessity. They used to call her “Mad-dog.”

The opposing team stops warm-ups when she gets in there with her gloves to take shots. Players smile, shake their heads. A girl. But there’s no disrespect, not out loud.

How it will play out in the heat of a match?

The first time Elise slides out and takes a kid out at the ankles, they understand.

This story didn’t center on the girl goalkeeper, at first. It was about a figure larger than life, a Great Brown Hope that ascended all the passing and foot skills going around.

A prodigal son pulled a gold and blue shirt over his mushroom of a hairdo, and the buzz began. “Chucho!” they yelled, and pointed.

“That’s my cousin!” people bragged as he touched his toes and ran in place. “He’s my brother!” another clamored as he twisted side to side, and smiled at the girls who gushed over him. “Chucho!” rang out as he took the field.

photo credit: zaimoku_woodpile via photopin cc
photo credit: zaimoku_woodpile via photopin cc

The ground shook. Angels sang.

Chucho had skill. Chucho had flash. Chucho had boy-band hair, and a million-dollar smile.

Chucho’s given name is Jesus. Yes, hey-SOOS is different from GEE-zus, but still.

None of that mattered to my girls. Marie juked him with footwork. She cut him off and bumped him as he tried to speed past. Her teammates saw how a little rough play slowed his roll. They bodied up when he had the ball.

One farmboy of a defender took it just a bit too far, and put Chucho in the dirt.

The whistle blew, his legions gasped, and when the dust cleared, Chucho smiled, and all was well in the world. Whew. The people’s cousin, the tribe’s brother, took his place at the penalty stripe.

Elise stepped back on the line for the penalty kick, pushed back her ponytail, and narrowed her eyes.

“You can do it, Chucho!”

“Arriba, Chucho!”

“Have my baby, Chucho!”

photo credit: kamagurka via photopin cc
photo credit: kamagurka via photopin cc

(OK, maybe that one didn’t ring out. But someone thought it.)

The whistle blew. The Anointed One ripped a shot to lift his legend, against the girl keeper.

# # #

Somewhere, kids play in the street, with a homemade football, with bare feet. Somewhere, children sit in the barber’s chair and declare, “como Chucho!” They want the ‘do. Maybe if they have great hair, they’ll also have great game.

Someday, perhaps we’ll watch Chucho again lead U.S. Soccer to the Promised Land.

We can say, “We knew him then.”

We can also say, “Chucho didn’t score on us that day.”

In summer’s heat and swirling dust and presence of greatness, the girl goalkeeper won. Not fooled by a fake, undaunted by the smolder of a smile. Elise stopped Chucho’s shot in the air, tumbled to the ground, and clutched the ball under her left arm.

Chucho stood with hands on hips as his teammates drifted back to play defense.

In the stunned silence that followed the inconceivable, one dad, at least, got caught up in the moment.

Chucho THAT!!” I yelled with a pumped fist, and the fans around me turned. They smiled. They understood.

There are so many stories when your girls play in a summer Latino soccer league.

Especially when a girl stops Jesus.

Or, Chucho.

chucho quote


  1. Loved this and as much as I do love this time of the year my thoughts are also drifting to warmer times and a bit of soccer too. 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Janine … it’ll be a balmy Christmas in the mid 60s here in Carolina, and I’m sure the girls will ask over the break if they can go to the field.

      Merry Christmas!

      1. Sounds like awesome weather and Merry Christmas to you, too!!

  2. Lyn says:

    Players smile a bit, shake their heads. A girl, they’re thinking and that is a fatal mistake! When my oldest daughter was in junior high, she challenged every boy to arm wrestling. None of them could beat her. They made that same fatal mistake. You must be so proud of Elisa 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      My girls still encounter coaches on both sidelines and many parents who haven’t learned. They are never offended. They are always challenged.

      How did the boys react to your daughter’s wins? I find that some boys become more bitter; but most come around with a new respect.

      I’m so incredibly proud of my girl!

  3. laurie27wsmith says:

    The legend lives on, how Mad Dog saved the day. You certainly have some gritty daughters Mate.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Chucho wasn’t the only star that day, mate. I’m awfully proud of all these girls.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        You’d have to be Mate, besides they have you to thank for being the great people they are.

  4. ksbeth says:

    this is wonderful, what a tale for the ages, chucho and the great save. fantastic and have a wonderful holiday with your girls, eli )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      chucho shoots – elise saves.

      happy holiday to you and yours, too, beth. thank you for always being so good to me.

  5. Sandy Ramsey says:

    Now THAT is a great story! Take that, Chucho!

    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family, Eli.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Sandy! One small victory for girl-kind.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Sandy. Thanks for stepping in when I needed it in 2014 – I’ll never forget that!

  6. tamaralikecamera says:

    I’m still laughing at “Have my baby, Chucho!”
    I think it might have a better ring than “Have my baby, Jesus!” I think.
    We all know that Mad Dog is the REAL star of this story, though.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It wasn’t audible, but it was tangible, all that Chucho love.

      I bet Jesus did have groupies, though.

      Mad Dog stole a little of the spotlight that day … she’s my hero.

  7. Elvira says:

    I hope one day my angelic-looking little boy will lose a penalty point against a girl keeper. Or loses a little arm-wrestling game against a girl. It will be so great for his ego.
    And I have to remember that Jesus-groupie thing. I teach religion to mostly a-religious 16-year olds and they will get that, I’m sure.

    Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s recommended sporting, Elvira. If anything, just to show him what a girl’s capable of. I would never advocate intentionally losing to a girl, though – I never let my girls win against me in anything.

      I suspect the probably haven’t let me win, either. Probably.

      Jesus definitely had his groupies. Who wouldn’t want to get behind a figure like him? Such wisdom, such charisma. Kids can understand that.

      Happy holidays to you and yours, too!

  8. What a great story! And I’m sure your daughter had to feel pretty proud of herself. Do you think she can come teach me how to dodge my kids bad moods?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Gina! She was proud, but only because she helped the team … I don’t think they think much of beating boys anymore. It’s lost its luster!

      She’s a great teacher and could definitely give you a hand. Wait, I need that training too!

  9. ProteanMom says:

    Haha! Love it. Poor guy… Almost didn’t stand a chance. 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Glad you like it, Kim. I couldn’t contain myself very well, no. I don’t think it hurt his legend very much – he wasn’t the only boy to have his shot stopped that day!

  10. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

    Awesome story.
    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  11. Tamara says:

    Way to go, Elise 🙂
    It’s a good thing to know you aren’t intimidated by the Chuchos of this world!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She did good, didn’t she? It’s all about the shot, not the shooter, with that kid.

  12. Rorybore says:

    Love it!! Makes me girl heart proud.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Rore. She scored that one for girls everywhere – even Canada.

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