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Memoir of a New Lacrosse Goalie
My stomach swishes back and forth, the remnants of my early supper mixing in its juices, making a nervous bowl of soup out of myself. The clicks of my cleats match my heart rate, my nervousness pushing my steps faster. My eyes flew back and forth multiple times taking in all the new scenery, a new field, new players, and a new goal, everything new. I glance at the goal posts, the posts a boring white, the paint chipping off with every goalie player that steps foot for a game and practice. It was nothing like at home where the goal posts were a brilliant electric orange and only had tiny nicks from a wielded lacrosse stick.
My cleats sink in the soft matted track around the field. I walk quickly afraid to sink into the plastic mess like sinking sand. Click, click, click, I breathe in a single heavy breath as my heart and cleats move in synchronized motions. My breathe bursts out of me before I realize that I was still holding it in, holding it from releasing to let my heart burst. The clicking stops and the green appears in my vision, the Field my savior. Grass never was as much as a savior as it was at this moment. My bag, that weighs the equivalent of four new born babies, thumps to the ground, dust fluming up. My helmet lolls out of the bag taking away maybe a half of a new born baby. My eyes scan my surroundings, the field and team all too new to me, after all this is my first year playing lacrosse. I scan to the left the goal post seemingly off balance. I scan to the right, the goal just in the right spot.
Maggie stalks behind me, giving me a good luck slap on the shoulder. I was all too nervous; I barely smile. I listen when people talk about East Grand Rapids; they are an awesome team with a stellar record. But, I also knew from my listening that they are a very dirty team. I slide my t-shirt off standing in the 50ish degree weather with a sports bra and tank-top as the only shields for my breasts. I slide the long white wrap out of my bag, making it slither like a snake. It squeezes around them growing tighter and tighter with every tug.
“Got to keep them puppies in right!” Maggie yells with her insane laugh.
“Well yeah! If I want them to be covered by the chest pad!” I reply with a giggle.
“Girl you need a bigger chest pad!”
“They don’t make them for women only men, and I’m pretty sure that there are not any guys out there that carry D’s!” As soon as my words cut off we break in hysterical laughter.
When I finally catch my breath again, and wear a proud smile, I realize that the nerves have gone away. Maggie was a miracle worker; she could banish all my nerves! Amazing! I began to pull on my pads for the game, the rest of the team starting to arrive from changing in the EGR bathrooms. I slide on the bumble bee yellow and black chest protector, followed by my black jersey sprouting an awesome number 28. I tug on my thigh protectors the black compression crushing the pads into my thighs. I slide on my shin guards the shiny silver and black ringing out loud and proud. I put my cleats back on I stand, bending in a deformed n shape to snatch my big black and white gloves out of my duffle bag. Sticking them between my legs like two fluffy marshmallows, I hold them tightly like a hen and her eggs. I scoop up my helmet, the heavy piece of head protection taking all my effort. I push and shove until the helmet finally plunks down holding my whole head safely. Snap, snap, snap, snap, I snap in all four of my helmet straps, my head now being held safely like the golden egg. I grab the marshmallow eggs from between my legs and slide them onto my hands, one size too big gloves covering my hands, wrists and then some.
The game whistle blows and all the players huddle around the coaches. There is a mass of black Panthers, and there is a mass of white from the other team, huddling on the other bench. You hear each coach giving a pep talk, all last minute words being shoved in exaggerated movements and unnecessary noise jumps. The whistle blows again and the starting line takes their positions on the field, meaning that I carry myself and the 10 pounds of pads, helmet, and stick out to my goal crease. I hunch down in an almost yoga position, ready for the ball to be called.
The screech of the whistle determines that the call is successful from a successful draw. The other team loses possession of the ball. Marta scoops up the ball, and tosses it to Monica, where she goes zipping down the field, running around the goalie and slamming it in! Goal! Goal! Goal!
“Goal!” The announcer booms.
We all return to our positions to get ready for another draw. The draws continue, each player running in, desperately wanting the ball. Sometimes we got the ball, sometimes they got the ball. Each time a team would run down zig-zagging around the field. After the first few shots I became filled with hot fury. My thoughts all focus on the ball. Getting the ball. Blocking the ball. Stopping the ball. Red reams my vision, the bull’s eye on the number 7 girl running up and down and around my whole defense. She is on my s*** list, as you call it, because she is the same girl scoring goals on me; always knowing where to score. She was way too good.
And here she comes again, her body moving effortlessly around my entire defense. She moves in ready to shoot, her eyes looking at my lower left pocket. I quickly chuck my stick down and she swoops her stick back and takes off running. What the hell is she doing? I follow her one step to her every five steps. She runs around the half crescent shape of the crease behind my goal. Reaching the other end of the half crescent shape her stick straightens like a murderer and his axe preparing to whack me in the body and shoot the ball in. Before I can even comprehend what to do I throw my stick sideways meeting hers; catching the ball. There is no slow motion; there is no super cat like reflexes because I was awesome.
I snatch the yellow three pound egg in my caressing white basket net with the quick flick of my wrist, cradling it safely in the middle. I cradle and cradle before I finally realized what just happened.
“Three, four, five!” The ref yelled.
“Clear!” I screamed anxious to get rid of the ball.
Finally my defense was ready I count in my head six…seven. I wind up giving the momentum to release the ball so that it will reach Taco on the restraining line. My right arm pulls up and back as my left arm follows. I lean back, the arch starting to straighten as I step forward to shoot the ball, when the collision of a thrown body meets the plastic of my lacrosse stick head. The shaft of my stick vibrates and sends shivers through my body. A harsh screech causes everyone halt like statues.
“Watch it goalie!” the referee shouts close to my face.
Everyone turns to see number seven lying on the ground holding her nose. Her big brown eyes are full of tears dripping one by one mixing in with the oozing blood. The red runs all over her white jersey, stains that would probably never come out. I stare; my heart stops beating all together, the thought of a heart attack popping in my mind. My stick falls to the ground where it shakes slightly, the thump startling my heart back into beating.
“What is your problem goalie?” the other referee shouts into my helmet the spit flying in through the cracks of my face mask.
“What did I do? I was in my crease! How would I even hurt her if she wasn’t in my crease? I was in the middle!” my eyes began to fill with red, my voice growing louder.
“That is it goalie! Red card! Out the rest of the game!”
“What? You can’t do that! It wasn’t my fault! She shouldn’t have been in my crease! Why doesn’t she get called for a crease violation! She is mad because I caught her illegal check and wanted to ruin my clear! This is ridiculous!”
“Watch your tone, Goalie!” The ref spat tiny nasty beads of spit in my face.
“No, you watch it, ref! Maybe next time you make a call make a fair one. Quit being biased!” My words shot out of my mouth with hot fury.
“Off my field!” Her finger shot straight out like an Indian rebel’s arrow.
“Fine! I don’t want to be on your DAMN field anyway! What bogus s*** this game is, give me a call when you learn the rules ref!!!” My feet pound cascading holes into the ground with the every stomp I take towards the edge of the field.
My eyes close and fear rises in my head when my Coach’s hot fury stew of words shroud at me. Her eyes bulge about to burst out of her sockets. Her words are fierce and sharp stinging with every accented specific syllable. Her body grows closer to mine every moment the heat from her anger growing closer. This is not the end, this is never the end. The only end that may come out of this may be my lacrosse career.
My mind was boggled, how she could blame me for the things that the ref and other player did I didn’t know. I was gone, I was done. My head shakes from side to side the sweat catapulting off my face; I take giant steps with her following straight behind me the arrowed words still hitting me. My hands jerk the bag onto my shoulder, the old charm bracelet and mismatched earrings left in there jostling around in fury and disdain. My cleats click and click faster than before as I run away from the attack upon me.
The clicks turn into a different tone as they hit the asphalt parking lot. My fury turns my skin a bright tomato sweet crimson to match my vision and despise. I am done with her, I am done with this sport, I am done with the Ref, and I am done with it all.
My cleats change tone once more as I climb the bus steps, walking past a very confused bus driver’s face. I slam the bag as it collides with the seat, my charm bracelet falling from my back against the green seat. First a shin pad, then a glove, and every other piece of padding follows as I eject my anger on a yellow bus.
Another game after mine was to be played, 3 hours I sit alone curled in the seat yelling and throwing the memories of a stupid game off my body. I never want to see any of them again. The notion makes me slam my helmet towards a window, remembering there was an hour and a half bus ride home. Hell, I was in pure hell, may the flames consume me now. All I could do was sit in a lonely bus seat, like a bathroom stall. All I could do was let the tears escape from the hard exterior that I spent years creating.