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Getting their kicks: Hale family uses soccer to stay close and stay fit

Jeff Hale said he and his wife, Janet, don’t force the idea of staying fit on their children. But with all four of their children playing soccer, they don’t really have to.

It just comes naturally.

Jeff Hale is an assistant coach for the girls soccer team at Stratford Academy, and his three daughters, Lauren, Allie and Katie, all play for the team. Janet Hale is present at the Stratford games, as well, and their son, Jeffery, also is active in soccer, playing in youth leagues.

“We don’t necessarily put a big emphasis on (fitness), but we want the kids to keep busy and get out there running around and being active,” Jeff Hale said. “Being sedentary isn’t a good thing, and in today’s lifestyle, everybody’s sitting around watching TV and playing video games. We don’t want that. We want them out having some activities, and getting out and running around is good, and soccer certainly helps with all that.

“Soccer helps make that part of it easy for our family as far as staying fit, and with me coaching, it is also nice to be able to spend time with the family.”

Jeff Hale said the family’s venture into soccer started with his wife. Janet Hale, he said, played youth soccer and wanted her children to play, as well. Lauren Hale started when she was 4 years old and enjoyed it, and the two Hale twins, Katie and Allie, started out young, also.

Jeffery Hale, who is in the fourth grade, played some soccer when he was young but then tried football and track and field. He has just started playing soccer again this year.

“I think he grew up on the soccer fields too much,” Jeff Hale said with a laugh. “He wanted to try some different things, but he finally came to us this year and said he wanted to play soccer again.”

The game has become a year-round activity for the family. In addition to the Stratford team and Jeffery Hale’s U10 team, the Hale children play at the Macon Soccer Club, and during the winter, they play indoor soccer. In the summer, there are numerous camps for them to attend.

“There’s a lot of endurance involved in it because a game is like a seven-mile run,” Lauren Hale said. “I like all of us playing because it helps keep us close. Because if Allie and Katie did a different sport and Jeffery did a different sport, I wouldn’t get to see them nearly as much. My mom’s at all my games, and if she’s not, she’s at one of their games, and it helps keep us all close.”

That closeness has certainly paid off for the Stratford soccer team. Lauren Hale is a junior captain for the team, and she has scored seven goals and recorded 11 assists this season. Allie Hale and Katie Hale are freshmen, but Allie Hale leads the team with 31 goals, and she also has six assists, while Katie Hale has five goals and five assists.

Stratford has a 11-5-1 record this season.

“(Playing together) is good because it helps us get along with each other better, and we can keep pushing each other harder in the games,” Allie Hale said. “Normally you won’t be able to tell your teammate, ‘You’ve gotta work on this harder or work on that,’ but we can tell each other that, and we can help each other play our best game.”

Jeff Hale works with the goalkeepers for the Stratford team, so he doesn’t work directly with his daughters that much during practices. He also works with his son’s U10 team, and through it all, the family stays close and fit together through the game.

“Even when they start at 4 years old, they’re running and chasing, and that’s good for them,” Jeff Hale said. “You have to try to design practices so there’s not much sedentary time. When the kids are young, if they’re standing around, they’re gonna get in trouble or get bored. You want to make it where they’re constantly moving and constantly doing something and being active.

“Plus, if you make the practices based around activities, and not so much drills, you can make it fun for them and keep them interested in it and make them want to keep coming back.”

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