This afternoon we had our penultimate soccer practice. Shots, the head coach, who is a 17 year veteran at the school as a math teacher, soccer coach and wrestling coach, likes to make sure we are using our SAT vocabulary whenever possible. Tomorrow will be the ultimate practice of the season. It is important to geek out a little over the amazing season we have had.
I can’t say the season has been easy for me. I was out of shape, my soccer knowledge was stored in the nethers of my mind covered by the time. In the six years since I stepped of the pitch I had two beautiful girls, moved twice, completed another degree, began teaching outside the area of my terminal degree and started a business. It has been a nutty time and soccer was on the back burner of my life. It was great to bring it forward but hard on my body and my self confidence. It is not easy to try to play come back when you are 40 years old.
What I know now looking back at the season, is that it was a gift. It was difficult to juggle especially with the change in our lives with the loss of my sister-in-law. I traveled to New Jersey, to Philadelphia, down into Maryland and Virginia to coach the games and sit on the sidelines with the girls. It was hard being away from home and difficult to complete my freelance work and teaching preparations. It was still a gift. The girls brought me so much joy, it felt amazing to play, laugh and giggle with them. To see them rise to challenges, to battle through fatigue, injury and defeat. They are inspirational to say the least. One of our players choose to play the entire season with a broken rib. It affected her play but she still was the best player on the field at every game. She could not breathe well and the pain was unbearable at times but still she choose to step on the field every game of the season. Our goalie broke her finger at the beginning of the season but yet she never missed a practice or a game. She has finally been cleared to play the field for the last few matches. It has been a joy to see her run and play as she waited patiently all season for her chance. Our stopper stoically moved back into the goal and rose to the occasion. She did not love the position but she knew we needed her so she gave it her all.
I feel selfish as they gave me more than I believe I gave back. I hope they know how much I will miss them and how much they helped me. They brought play back into my life. It had gone dormant under my never ending list of to dos. They reminded me that laughter is healing, that running does not need to be linear, that my workouts don’t have to feel like part of my job but most of all they reminded me that a good team is a family, a place for support. It is a beautiful thing. As the season wraps up with our last game on Saturday, I will be happy for the slower schedule but I will have a whole missing in my heart. In fact I will have 30 tiny voids that will have to wait to be filled again when the season starts next September. I will miss them. I will miss each of them and our amazing unit we created this season.