Ever wonder what it's like to have a child playing a Division I sport? What about having two children playing three Division I sports?
Most people likely haven't considered the second scenario. But most people aren't Josetti and Arby Fields. The couple are the proud parents of Florida State senior soccer star Jamia Fields and former LSU baseball standout and current outfielder in the Seattle Mariners farm system Arby Fields II, who previously played for the Northwestern baseball and football teams before transferring. Got all that?
If you think it's complicated reading all those sports and team names, just imagine living it. And the Fields parents don't just politely cheer from the sideline. They have been heavily involved in their children's athletic dreams since an early age, starting with tirelessly training both kids in the park by their Alta Loma, California, home during their elementary school days to the present in which they regularly fly across the country to show support on game day.
Josetti, who participated in soccer and track during her youth, and Arby, a former college football player, were both in Boca Raton, Florida, to watch Jamia play in the Women's College Cup. We caught up with them as they eagerly await Sunday's national championship game against Virginia.
Parents of aspiring athletes, you might want to take some notes.
espnW: How did your children get started in sports? How old were they?
Josetti: We'll start here with Jamia because her story is easier. Her brother played sports -- karate, baseball and football. But she did dance when she was little. When she was around 6, she decided she wanted to play on a team from watching her brother. Being that I played soccer, I thought that would work. So at 6 she started playing soccer. By 8, clubs were already knocking on our door, even though she couldn't play until she was 9. She played tennis too until high school, but soccer was her first love.
Arby: I was always involved with sports, football and baseball, mostly. My youngest brother Scott played in the NFL and at USC. He was the first one I really had a lot of time to work with. I started working with him when he was in the eighth grade. He became a Parade All-American. So a long time went by, and then I had my son. I developed a plan in my mind to guide him in the way I knew it had to be done, right from the womb. I worked with him every day. Every morning, we went to the park across the street and worked on something. I mean, like before he even started walking. I was the park director, so when he was 4, I put him out on the football field with the 8-year-olds. We were just always working, every day -- focusing on different skills of whatever the sport of the season was. Jamia started training with us along the way.
espnW: At what point did you realize you had two talented athletes in the family?
Arby: I knew my son was good right away. My daughter, I figured it out by the things she did around the house at a young age. One day when Arby and I were at the park running hills, she was about 8 and came and got upset. She didn't want to run hills. So I sent her home. A couple of weeks later, she was upset that she couldn't train with us anymore. We let her back in with us, and from then on, she tried to beat her brother at everything. She never cried again. By the way she ran around with her brother, I just knew she had it.
espnW: Were they competitive with each other growing up?
Josetti: They still are! They even train together now when they're home. When Arby would go hit, Jamia would go too, and everybody thought she played softball. She never did, but she could hit just because she was always going with him.
espnW: You live in California, so how did both Jamia and Arby end up at schools so far away in the southeast?
Arby: They could have stayed local. Jamia had something like 17 offers, including local schools, but then Florida State came. Everything there is first class. It's a great program. They came in and just sold us. I wasn't going to stop my daughter from going far away just because of the distance.
espnW: How many Florida State games have you been able to attend during Jamia's four years at the school?
Josetti: Between the two of us, most of the time we're there. He likes to go to the away games, and I like to go to the ones that are close so I can stay the whole weekend and go to two games. We plan it out in advance, as soon as we get the schedule.
Arby: I've missed maybe eight games in four years. I would love to have a convertible Porsche, but I can't do it. I do this instead. It's all about sacrifice.
espnW: What's it like being here to watch your daughter play in the national championship game?
Josetti: It's amazing. When you're at this level, you're the best. It's just one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. It's a blessing and amazing to see. We were there last year, but we didn't realize then until we got there just how big it was. And then you get back home, or even on the plane, and you realize just how big it is. When you hear people say, "Oh, that No. 4!" and you're like, "That's my daughter!"
espnW: Are you nervous?
Josetti: Yes! It feels like I'm running track. It's like having butterflies in your stomach at the starting line when you're waiting for them to start the gun. That's how I feel.
Arby: I know Virginia is good. I was there both times they played this year. But do I get nervous? No. Not now. Because I'm absolutely sure this is our time and I know how hard those girls work. I know they're ready. I'm not nervous at all. It's about to happen for us.
espnW: What will you say to Jamia before the game?
Arby: I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say, but yesterday [ahead of the semifinal matchup with Stanford] I told her to go out there and cut their throats. She'll always tell me not to say things like that. My daughter is a Christian, but when she gets out on the field, she has to do what she has to do. It's war out there. I'll say something like that.
Josetti: And then I say, "Go out there, say a prayer and just go out there and do what you do. You know who you are and what you do. There is no reason not to play your game."
espnW: Where does this rank among your proudest moments as parents?
Arby: Watching my son at Northwestern scoring touchdowns in front of 100,000 and watching him hit home runs, this is right there.
Josetti: I think this is the top. Even her brother says how special this is. Especially for her, she's always been like Arby's shadow, and now this is her moment. He even says to her, "You're bigger than I am," and tells her just to play her game. He was with us last weekend but couldn't make it this week. It was our first Thanksgiving all together in years.
espnW: What advice would you give to other parents who are raising young athletes?
Josetti: I would say, just always encourage your kids. It's going to get tough, because life gets tough. But you just can't quit. It's going to be hard or there might be someone on the team or a coach that your child doesn't like, but they have to learn how to deal with those things. It's teaching them how to react and deal with situations that happen and endure. You need to keep things positive. It can get negative, especially when they get older, so we just tried to stay encouraging.
Arby: You can't be afraid to go for it. You can't be afraid to say "I want to go pro" or "I want to start on the varsity team as a freshman." You can't be afraid to set goals because you can do it. If you, or your kids, really want to be a big-time athlete, you really just need to focus on that. You're going to have some time for some fun and some other things, but it's not going to be all that much. If you want to truly prepare for it and go for it, don't be afraid to do it.