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Cheaper by the half dozen?The Chaffee family tells their soccer story

There was “Cheaper by the Dozen” the movie, but it can not compare to what Paul and Velma Chaffee put together.

The Chaffee family brings you Cheaper by the Half Dozen. The two united their families through marriage and now have five girls and one boy playing soccer.

Of the five girls, one is on the Trojans varsity team and three are trying out for varsity this year.

Senior Kristen Young-Chaffee has played for the team for the past three years. The three who are trying out are sophomore Winter Young-Chaffee, sophomore Paige Chaffee and freshman Cheyenne Young-Chaffee.

Autumn Chaffee is in seventh grade at Rosemary Clarke Middle School and Brenden Chaffee is in grade school.

Velma gives Paul the credit for soccer.

“When I met Paul he was just starting a U-6 AYSO team. He is the one that got the family going in soccer,” Velma said.

Kristen started around 9, and the others around 6 and 7.

“It’s been a large commitment,” Paul said. “Time-wise, with all the kids, it seems like every waking moment is a soccer moment. When I started this commitment, I had no idea it was going to take off. I figured it would be a three-month commitment and it would be done, and now it is a year-round commitment.”

Kristen is the only one involved in club soccer but there are possibly others thinking of following suit as college for them also looms ahead.

To the girls, the game not only is a sport, it is also a social activity.

“I started a little later than everybody else because all of our friends were playing soccer,” Kristen chimed in.

Paul said the girls were a soccer team in themselves.

“We must have had 20 or 30 soccer balls in the front yard at one time,” he said. “We always had our own soccer team it seemed like. We had Kristen, Paige, Winter, Autumn and Cheyenne all out in the front yard. We called the girls “Team Chaffee.” The girls kept playing and playing and they got more touches on the ball than the average kid. Basically it kind of took off and the fact they got more touches than the average girl really helped out. They really enjoyed it. We came up through the ranks and I coached up to U-14.”

Velma added Paul really only thought he would be coaching for a year or two. “I remember Paul saying at the time, ‘What harm can one season of AYSO do?’

The kids excelled at it.

Velma has the right attitude. She just jumped right in and soccer became part of the family fabric.

“We are all in the same boat,” she said. “At all the sporting events you will see the same families. We see the Sladeks, the Dennis family and the Toomers. We all are very much involved in seeing that the kids get to their sports. That is how it is.”

For the Chaffee adults, it’s all about the kids. It is not a chore for them, it’s just what the kids do and soccer has become part of the unit that bonds the family together.

“We enjoy seeing them doing what they like to do,” Velma said. “We enjoy seeing them bringing it to the next level.”

Kristen became a good soccer player and became friends with the Sladek girls. This is when she took the family to the next level and got into to club ball with Joe Sladek and his girls.

“Our kids were exposed to high-level experiences,” Paul explained. “We don’t see that Pahrump Valley High School is promoting the kids as far as college goes. Joe is actually promoting the kids. He is taking the kids here and taking them there. He is promoting their level of play. Where a lot of the other high school coaches, I don’t see that happening. PVHS is not bringing in the high-level coaches to get these kids into college. Where is the club track team? Where is the club football team?”

Velma praised the Sladeks for what they bring to the community.

“I am very thankful that Joe has been able to take these girls to the next level. They did good with the previous coach, but Joe has been able to hone their skills. You can see the outcome. He has taken them to state twice. He has taken a lot of time out of his personal life to coach and give these girls the opportunity. I will always be thankful to Joe and his family because they have been able to give their time.”

Sladek has already sent almost an entire team to college in the past several years.

Last year Kristen was all-league second team and finished the year with over 30 goals. She was second only to the 70 goals of Sydney Sladek.

The Chaffee family lives and breathes soccer, so it’s not surprising a soccer moment has become a highlight for the family.

“One of the fondest moments I had was when we went up to Reno for the first state tournament. At that time, Kristen was not in the starting lineup. There was really some hard competition up there. So, when we saw them win the first game we thought these girls were getting good. They just kept winning. The last game happened and it went into double overtime. When Kristen scored the last goal, I had to go ask Joe who scored the goal. We could not see it.”

Probably the bleakest soccer moment with the family is when the Trojans lost to the Faith Lutheran for the second time last year.

Kristen said Winter tried to console her by putting an arm around her, but it did not work.

“I told her the team would get it back,” Winter said.

Nothing seemed to work. Paul even tried to critique the game but Kristen would not have any part of that.

“We critique every game win or lose. Even after the major loss. Sometimes she is open to it and other times she is not. That has been part of what has helped. I would say ‘Hey you did a good job doing this, but you could be better doing this.’

“I really think critiquing them helps out. In all honesty, they don’t want to hear what we have to say. I think it helps them to strive to be better players, and they know mom and dad expect a certain level of play.”

It took Joe’s experience to bring the girls out of the funk. It’s what good sports movies are made of. The Trojans went on to play Faith Lutheran in the state playoffs and beat them 3-1.

Soccer has given Kristen an extended family. Every girl on the team is now her sister.

Kristen now has geared her life to going to college and soccer, she feels, will get her there.

“Every bit of spare time we spend schooling.” Kristen said.

For her, this means studying with her soccer teammates.

Velma said that is another positive thing about Joe. “He makes sure that your academics come before your soccer. There are times they will all be at Joe and Marcia’s house helping each other with their homework. Joe tells them, ‘Make sure your homework is done before we even start soccer.’ That is the way it is at our house. It is the same thing at many of the soccer houses,” Velma related.

The goal of college means Kristen spends many hours during the summer playing soccer in tournaments to be noticed by college coaches. She expects this will pay off in the form of a scholarship somewhere.

Her sisters hope to go to college too. Soccer may or may not get them there, but they are willing to try.

Kristen wants to go into the medical field to be a surgeon. Winter is also looking at a medical field. Paige wants to work with animals and Cheyenne wants to work as an orthodontist.

Soccer may have engulfed the family, but it has brought a lot of good things with the long hours.

Velma never has to tell the girls to get ready for soccer games. They are very responsible and soccer has taught them solid work ethics and how to take care of themselves.

“If anything I have to put the brakes on,” Paul concluded. “We take our spirituality seriously and Sunday is our day to relax. It has caused some problems in the past because there are some things going on Sunday and I would just say, ‘Hey you have six days to do other things.’

“We want our kids to have a good work ethic and to have a healthy spiritual life.”

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