Soccer Lessons

Vanessa - Goldsboro, North Carolina
Entered on September 26, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

When I was in the seventh grade, I decided that I would try out for the soccer team. The first day we ran about two whole hours, dribbling the ball down the edges of the field until I thought I was about to die. We did this repeatedly, but I survived, and eventually I had made all of the cuts. I made the team.

You wouldn’t have believed how excited I was when I saw my name on that white sheet of paper, crudely taped to the front of the gym doors. My newly found teammates; however, seemed to react differently. It was a coed team and there were three girls, including myself, so that meant that the other twenty or so players were hormonal, little, middle-school aged boys. A lot of them didn’t think that I should have made the team; I couldn’t run as fast as they could. It was this very fact that made that season the worst soccer season I had ever experienced.

I had always been taught that you were supposed to encourage others, gently nudge them in the right direction and praise their accomplished goals while only softly scolding at their failures. But on that soccer team, it was as though the entirety of what I had been taught was the exact opposite.

Running was something I always hated and you wouldn’t believe how much those boys made fun of me. It got to the point where I was crying every night after practice; coach even asked me if I wanted to be the manager instead. In my head, I knew I was going to accept the offer but “yes” wasn’t the word my lips were forming. From then on, I tried even harder; I tried so hard that I threw up at almost every practice. It was disgusting, but for some reason it made me feel accomplished, like I was slowly getting better. And I was.

Despite all of the negativity that was being thrown at me, I worked for what I wanted. Instead of someone else praising me for my deeds, I praised myself. I learned to value myself as a person, not the opinions of others.

It felt good inside to know I was telling off those evil hormonal boys. In fact, we had a day where we did nothing but Indian runs. If you know anything about those horrid things, you’d know how exhausting they can be. But, it was about the end of practice and I was running along side of an average paced teammate of mine. (Who just happened to be a boy.) I looked at him and he looked back at me. The agreement was mutual and we took off running without saying a word. I ran as fast as I could, sucking down air like there was no tomorrow. Before I knew it, I had reached the stopping point. I, the slowest runner on the team, had beaten this boy. I love running now.