The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Among mothers, snack duty is the real contact sport

| October 10, 2014 | 0 Comments



Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
By now, the youth sports scrimmages are over, and regular fall season competition has begun.

But what our kids don’t know is that another fierce game is about to start.

A game that involves intense, some might say vicious, competition. A game that is not for the faint at heart. A game that requires superb skills, bloodthirsty drive and aggressive ambition to win.

That game is the one that is waged between the parent volunteers.

A few days ago, my finger trembled as it hovered over the mouse. I had just typed an email to my daughter’s JV Girls’ Soccer Team coach, volunteering to coordinate snacks for our upcoming games. But I hesitated. I had played in this game before, and I wasn’t sure I wanted the coach to send me back in.

Orange wedges win the snack battle in Germany for 9-year-old Lillian Molinari in 2009, but the “mom” snack wars continue.   (Photo by Lisa Smith Molinari

Orange wedges win the snack battle in Germany for 9-year-old Lillian Molinari in 2009, but the “mom” snack wars continue. (Photo by Lisa Smith Molinari

Years ago, when our Navy family was stationed in Germany, I was at the height of my youth sports volunteer career. That fall, during our daughter’s U8 rec soccer season, an intense but unspoken rivalry developed among the parents over who would win the title for “Best Team Snack.”

I signed up for a game at the end of the season, hoping to have time to eye up my competitors. I combed the commissary and trinket stores, hoping to find a winning balance of nutritious edibles to please the health-conscious parents, and fun treats that would win the hearts of the players.

On game day, I was ready.

At halftime, I passed out orange wedges, which not only offered nutritional content, but also had comedic value when the kids cracked up over each other’s orange-peel smiles. But I was only just beginning. When the final whistle blew and the players ran off the field, I clinched the coveted title by giving the team ice-cold Gatorades, home-baked cookies and “Goodie Bags” filled to their zip-locked brims with granola bars, lick-and-stick soccer ball tattoos, tiny cleat key chains, sugarless bubblegum and miniature chocolate soccer balls.

In the tangle of minivans exiting the gravel parking lot beside the field, another mom yelled through her open window, “Hey, Molinari! Thanks for making the rest of us look bad with that stinking goodie bag!”
There was no denying it. I nailed it.

But just as I was basking in the glow of victory, our family was transferred to Florida. Thinking my snack skills unparalleled, I agreed to be my son’s high school football “Team Mom.” Little did I know, I had just entered the Parent Volunteer Thunderdome.

Innocently, I made a batch of cupcakes and offered them to the team after our home opener. I had just unknowingly thrown down the gauntlet to another parent, who brought home-baked cookies to the players after every game and was known as “The Cookie Lady.” She was not happy that I’d stepped on her turf and shot daggers at me the rest of the season.

But The Cookie Lady was a pussycat compared to the “Concessions Queen” — a volunteer who had ruled the concessions booth with an iron fist for several years. When she got wind that there was a new “Football Mom” trying to win favor with the team, she gathered her minions to plot revenge.

These women gave me so many dirty looks, I had to ask someone in the chain gang to escort me to the parking lot after the games, for fear that one of them might be hiding between the minivans with a shiv.

After two years of cowering in fear over cupcakes and cookies, my family is now stationed in Rhode Island, and I’m wary of entering the Parent Volunteer Battle again. Will I be able to reclaim my “Best Team Snack” title? Is it worth the sleepless nights spent wracking my brain for a new twist on crispy rice treats? Will I be strong enough to face gut-wrenching decisions like rainbow or chocolate sprinkles? Will I go out in a blaze of glory or suffer the agony of defeat? I just don’t know.

Reminding myself that it’s all about the kids, I mustered the courage to hit “Send” and started looking up the recipe for monster cookies.

Let the games begin.
(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Lisa has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

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Category: Community, Community Relations

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