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Finding My True Calling
“Nawet jezli nie wygrasz, ja bede cibie zawsze kochac i graj jak nigdy. Ti masz chynazchy lat I yestch nieves yaki grazc,” My dad said, in Polish, sitting across from me at the granite top kitchen table.
That translates to: If you don’t win, I will always love you and play like you have never played. You’re thirteen years old and you still don’t know what you’re doing in life. Figure something out.
I got mad at my dad, but his words were true and meant a lot to me.
Getting up that morning, I was extremely hot and sweaty, nervous, and pumped. Remembering that today happened to be the day that proving myself could show everyone I did have a place in my life. This year I knew my team and I would end up winning the soccer championship. Winning this one-in-a-lifetime match would make me feel like finding my place in life. A lot of miracles happen around the world and I felt like this could end up turning into one.
Around eight o’clock, my parents and I, still sleepy, departed from the house. We drove in our Toyota Camry to Winnebago County Park. My championship game started at 8:45am. My team, “The Live Wires,” played an extremely difficult team by the name of Lang Oil that possessed an immense amount of potential.
The clock was ticking down to game time. Tick tock. Tick tock. I sat in the corner by myself under a big shaded oak tree while having drops of warm, sticky sweat, dripping all over my body. Putting my mind in the game, I began to concentrate. At this point everything around me meant absolutely nothing. I wanted to overcome my life obstacle to win and become a champion at some sort of sport hoping that it would be soccer because that is all I had left to play. My dad pushed me extremely hard at soccer because he grew up playing it. He wanted me to become as good as him.
In my previous sports like baseball, never hitting the ball or throwing it far enough made me feel miserable. Whenever I got up to bat, the sounds of the fans saying one… two… three… and you’re out, made me quit. After baseball, joining the basketball team made me feel good; it still gave me a slight chance of finding my life’s calling. Yet again, that wasn’t the sport for me. Getting stuffed was like my occupation. Being only 4’11”, nothing could be done for me on the basketball court. I had only one opportunity left; soccer.
I had to put thinking about that stuff aside anyways so I could think about how aggressive I have to be during the game. A few seconds later, my old coach called me over by him.
“I want you to take over this game bud and make sure everything works around you. Be so aggressive, slide at people; take their legs out from underneath them. Don’t let them push you around. You have to fight back even harder. If you get knocked I want you to get right back up again. Do you hear me?” He paced back and forth. Coaches’ screams sounded like a drill instructor teaching me how to fight someone at boot camp.
“Yea coach I got you, I understand where you’re coming from,” I stretched my legs and arms underneath the big and shaded oak tree.
“I need you to play the full 90 minutes. Good luck and play hard. You got this baby, you got this,” My coach said with a grin, and then winked at me.
I got this baby. I bend down like I always do before my games; my pregame ritual. Praying to God to help me win. I fasten my neon yellow captain’s band on my arm and then leaned over to pick up some freshly mowed grass. Kissing it and throwing it up in the air. Knowing this is it; I can’t turn back and make mistakes.
Then I gathered up my team and gave them a pep talk while slowly walking onto the field. We were set to go when the referee blew his whistle. The game started off very slow. Nothing was done in the first half. I started to get really frustrated and my face started to turn beet red from all the screaming. Sweat was getting in my eyes and my mouth. I worked so hard to set up perfect opportunities but nothing could be done. Halftime had come around. We had to go to our team bench and listen to one of coach’s ridiculous speeches. This time, I didn’t even go by coach. I sat all alone on a rickety bench and reflected on the game while thinking about what was going wrong. The referee blew his whistle and said that halftime had come to an end. I got back out onto the field and took my position. The game was still played tightly between teams fighting for a chance to win a gold medal. I started screaming at my teammates. I felt my veins popping out of my neck and my face on fire.
“Are you guys going to do something or just sit there and play like you don’t give a crap.”
At that time, I think a couple guys said, you know he’s right. Then they started to play better.
These are the laziest players ever. While running, I stumbled upon the referee and asked him how much time was left. This black and white referee was a very aggravated man.
“About two minutes.”
What a dang grump, jeez. I started yelling at my team to pick up the pace and that we didn’t have much time left in the game. My good friend Aron just happened to slide tackle viciously at the other player taking him out but managing to get the ball away from him. He dribbled it up to the half field marker almost tripping on the dew filled grass but managing to pass it up to Zach.
All of a sudden I scream, “Zach I’m wide open, pass it to me.” Trying to get his attention, I stood there waving my hands frantically.
He delivered a well passed ball to me with perfect pace behind it. When seeing the ball in the right spot, I took the shot. At this moment, a massive and sweaty defender stood on the left side of me holding my white and black jersey. As I kicked the size five, white and blue ball, the same defender ran full charge like a bull at me.
I don’t want to get hurt. His sweaty body leveled me to the ground while his blue colored cleats penetrated through my leg. The moment occurred to me as the longest five seconds of my life. Everything happened in such slow motion. I caught a glimpse of the ball fly passed the goalies massive hands and go right into the upper 90 part of the goal.
I think I cleared some spider webs with that shot. The parents and fans on the sideline all started cheering like a miracle had happened. I knew that I had just scored the winning goal with seconds remaining. I took my shirt off and started running around the field like a crazy rodeo bull. I ran, did flips, and clapped my teammate’s hands. At that moment, I shed a tear of joy. I felt triumphant. The old and arrogant referee blew his whistle signaling the game had finished. I started running away from my team because each of them had their water jugs open. They were ready to pour the water all over me, so I let them. The ice cold water was pounding my warm skin with little ice chunks bouncing off. But it didn’t matter. I won the championship for my team. I thanked God for everything. I knew I had it in me. I received the Most Valuable Player award for the game. A lot of miracles happen in this strange world, and now I can say I achieved a miracle on a soccer field.
This entire game made me realize many things. I happened to actually be good at something. It took me many years to find my place. Going from one thing to another like basketball, baseball, or some drama activities. It was none of that. This game made me a star and every time I got onto the field, it felt like this was my place. None of those other activities made me feel the way I did about soccer. It was just a pure adrenaline rush every time I touched the field or scored a goal. This was my place and the only place that felt good inside my fist sized heart.
When the game was over, I ran over to my parents. They sat there on the sidelines together. Feeling their warm tears on the top of my head made me give them an enormous bear hug that I could not let go of. My parents knew that their son found his calling.