I believe in movement
I can still close my eyes and feel my body playing soccer. The running…that feeling in the pit of my stomach a mix of anxiety, competitiveness, and freedom as I run as fast as I can. Legs churning as if I were Sonic the Hedgehog on the old school Nintendo game, the wind whipping my hair, my eyes watering, and a smile spread across my face. That fear that comes with pushing myself to the limit, never knowing if my lungs will hold more air, but embracing the feeling of accomplishment when I don’t give up. The power… having the ability to bring the soccer ball down from 20 feet in the air with a gentle nudge of my thigh, watching as it lands exactly where I want it, one foot in front of me, ready for action. The shifts of my body as I fake left and shove past the opposing player. The team… The cohesive, family-like atmosphere, laughter, sharing of stories, shoulders to lean on, and a sense of belonging unmatched by any other group.
I miss it.
After a stress fracture to my lower spine, coupled with two herniated discs I had to give up soccer after playing only one year in college and semi-professionally.
Now, 8 years removed from my playing days, it is still hard. I had grown up as an athlete, my self confidence; self esteem and self worth were all tied to playing soccer well. Suddenly, I had to redefine who I was.
What I did know, was that I believed in movement.
Eventually, I found other passions, the passion in teaching youth how to move. I’ve worked for the past 7 years at a Neighborhood Center in Denver that serves high-risk youth. I found that youth can truly teach you some amazing life lessons. Resiliency, hope, optimism and desire are just a few of the words that I can think of that define the youth that I worked with. They taught me many valuable life lessons.
What I taught them was to love movement. Not the movement of sports, but the movement of play. The idea that when we play together, we learn together. The lessons that are learned through non competitive, positive team building, character building games. Playing shadow tag can help youth intermingle with their peers and alleviate cliques within a school; relay games build team spirit; and scavenger hunts build analytical skills. Youth love to feel successful, when you show youth that they are capable of movement, and that movement involves your mind, your heart and your body everyone can succeed. Movement provided the youth with an opportunity to laugh, forget for a few moments the ugly parts of life, challenge themselves, trust in themselves and others, be encouraged, and to find their path of self worth.
I believe in movement. I believe that play is vital for the youth of this generation.
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