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“Beep, beep, beep” I woke to the sound of my alarm clock reminding me that I had a big day ahead of myself. I reached over to the brown bedside table to my left and hit the “stop” button on my phone. I could hear the chatter of my teammates in the room next to me whom I did not want to stay with because of the way they treated me. I slipped on my red jersey, black shorts, and socks; threw my long, dark brown hair into a ponytail; and put on my maroon pre-wrap which held back my flyaways.
“We gotta go Puny! Hurry up!”
Suddenly I was not as excited for the day as I was just a few seconds before. I got the nickname “Puny” from Maddy, because of my size; compared to everyone on my team, I was small but I was definitely not weak. Maddy always had a sense of urgency in her voice that could take away any happiness/excitement from me.
I walked down the plain white hallway of our hotel in LA, CA listening to my pre-game playlist trying to get the voices out of my head. The second the hotel doors swung open, a rush of hot humid air smacked me as if someone had poured hot water all over me.
“Good Morning Lauren, Ready to play?”
Coach’s voice wasn’t exactly the most comforting thing, but it was for sure better than Maddy’s dire voice that was still stuck in my head.
“Of course, i’m always ready to play Coach” I replied a little hesitantly.
Although what I said wasn’t exactly true, I hoped it was. We rented a black coach bus for the entirety of our trip. The bus had probably close to 30 seats, although, our whole team was only 19 players. This meant almost everyone got their own seat which was the best news I had heard on the whole trip. The upholstery on the seats was the same as the carpet, it looked as if someone had thrown confetti all over the bus. I sat myself in the very first seat, because I knew no one else would have wanted to sit there.
The drive to the field was only about 15 minutes, but sitting in a bus with 18 people who hate you can make that 15 minutes feel more like an hour. After sitting in the bus for about 5 minutes, I got a text from my aunt. It read “Good luck today! I know if your mom was still here she would be extremely proud of you!”. My eyes started to water as I looked at my lock screen; the last picture I had with my mom. The picture was taken right after I had won my last game of the season. Five year old me had the courage to face all of my intimidating teammates and score the winning goal at the same time. Within the last 5 minutes of our bus ride I realized that I was no longer anxious and Maddy’s voices had left my head.
Before I knew it we had arrived at the fields. Because I had sat in the very first seat, I was the first to get off the bus. The soccer complex had at least 20 fields, it was huge! The fields were in such good condition that the real grass felt like it was turf. The complex was mostly grass so it smelled so fresh, besides the smell of sweat that loomed off of players walking by.
“We’re all the way in the back corner, where the other Broomfield team is playing”
I picked up my pace a bit now that I knew where I was going. I threw my bag down the second I got to our field and begun to juggle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my coach slogging towards me.
“It looks like you actually are ready to play Lauren!”, this was the most ‘encouraging’ thing I think I had ever been told by coach, and it caught me off guard.
“Uhh, yeah, like I said, i'm always ready to play Coach!”
“Well that’s good to hear Lauren, because today might just be your day”
“What do you mean b-”
“Ladies I need you to start your warm up, we have 45 minutes till it's game time!”
Before I even had a chance to finish asking coach what he meant by “today might just be your day”, we started our warm up. I thought to myself “could I actually play in this game; is coach actually starting to like me; can coach finally see my potential?”. I tried to ignore it and focus on the game.
“I think that was a good warm up girls, probably the best warm up we have had all season.”
“Maddy, center d…” coach went on and on with naming positions, not to my surprise, I was back on the bench. Before I even had time to sit down Maddy stabbed at the ball, missed it, and gave their strongest player a breakaway, and the girl shot a rocket in the back of our net. “I can do that, that is only if coach would put me in and give me a chance.” I had been sitting on the black backless fabric bench for almost a half an hour now; the backs of my legs looked like popcorn due to imprinting.
“Tweet, tweet”, the double whistle meant is was halftime, and we were still losing.
“I’m going to go ahead and keep the starting 11 out there”
It was half way through the game and I still had not go in, “maybe Coach meant nothing by “today might just be your day””. Before I had time to think about anything else, we had scored! This celebration soon turned into fear, Mollie had collapsed seconds after she scored.
“Coach, Coach”, the ref called Coach over to Mollie.
As she sat down on the bench next to me, I knew there was no way she would be able to play again today.
“Lauren, you ready?”
I sprung up off the bench so fast, “Of course, i'm always ready!”.
“Well what are you doing here still, you need to take Mollie’s position.”
“Lauren, go through!”
“Yeah, Ally, through!”
The ball came like a rocket to my left foot, and after that all that mattered was on the field. I cut in right, and used my speed to beat the rest of the defensive line. All that was left was the goalie. I took it closer and right as the goalie swooped down to pick the ball up from my feet and a little chip was all I needed to score the winning goal.
“YEAH LAUREN!”, everything was drowned out by the constant cheering of my name. Even Maddy, for once called me Lauren instead of Puny.
We walked over to the edge of the sports complex where we were awarded with our first place trophy and medals. Suddenly it was as if everyone loved me, I never took pictures with people after games, simply, because they did not want to, but today was different and I took pictures with almost everyone.
“Hey Lauren, wanna see something?”
“Um, sure!” “Woah Maddy thanks, this is so cool!”
“Yeah, no problem, I already emailed it to you”
Maddy had gotten the video of my goal from her mom, I can vividly remember the whole thing. The girls on the other team were so tall compared to me, I was probably up to their shoulders.
“The flight back home I talked to Maddy the whole way, I think it was the most I have ever talked to her in my life.” I paused to smile, “I missed you so much Aunt Theresa”.