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The Big First Down

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It was a cold november weekend, and when I walked outside in the morning, I felt the cold, brisk breeze on my skin and it just made the butterflies in my stomach grow bigger. Today was like no ordinary day, it was the day of the super bowl, the final game of the season and our chance to win a championship. I was 8 years old at the time and most of the kids I was playing with were 9 and were as big as texas. I always felt weak and was scared of the older kids at first but throughout the season I learned I could compete with them. After this was over, I would never come to play the same again.

 

I walked up to the grass field with my shoulder pads in one hand and cleats in the other. I looked around timidly at all the older and bigger kids nervously ready to start my first practice. We came together in a big group before we started and all these kids surrounding me towered over me. I wanted to quit right then and walk off the field because I knew I could never compete to the same level as them. 


This was the biggest game of my life. We were matched up against the pontiac panthers, who we played the previous year and lost badly so my team and I were out for revenge. This still did not change the fact that pontiac was the best team in the league and beat every team they played by 40. We arrived to the game and entered the field which was a lot nicer than ours. The turf was new which was good news for me cause I loved playing on turf. It was so cold that the blackhawk logo in the middle of the field was shivering as were the big round clouds in the sky. The giant stadium was filled to the top with fans which made me nervous because I'd never played in front of this many people before. Right when I walked onto the frozen field, I was ready to start the game.
During the beginning of the game, I thought there was no way we could compete with these guys. They were bigger, faster and stronger and seemed like giants running around the brand new green turf. I didn't think I was going to be able to lead our team to the win but I was determined to give everything I had.


  Fast forward to the end of the game. It was tied 14-14 after all that time. I never thought my team would ever be this close to the Panthers. We were going into overtime and I was exhausted. It was getting late and the air was becoming cooler. I realized the only way I was going to keep warm was to keep moving. It was 4th down, and if we scored a touchdown on this possession, the game was over. I looked at the defense and they were getting hype and loud. Before I called the play, I just sat there, thinking about what I had to do and looking at gaps in the defense because I knew this play would determine the game.


“QB sweep!” Coach yelled.


We had made it this far and I learned we could compete against this massive team, and wasn’t scared to run this play. I hiked the ball and took off on a bootleg around the right side. A defender tried to stop me but I quickly stuttered my feet, put my arm out into his chest and got around him. I was 5 yards away from the first and I knew I could make it because I had more heart than the guy chasing me from the other team. I dove for the first down right as the biggest player on the other team landed on my foot and I payed the price when everything went black. In my head all I could think was that I did my job and picked up the first down and didn't care about the injury I had just received, even though it was pretty ugly.


  When I came to, I was on the sidelines very disoriented, and at the moment the crowd erupted. The crowd had awaken me from the deep dizzyness of a slight death and I knew we had scored and won the game when my entire team rushed onto the field. Although I couldn't see the play I was overjoyed and not even thinking about the torn ligament in my foot which felt like knives stabbing into me over and over again, jumped up and started cheering. I had so much joy in my heart and at the same time so much pain in my ankle, but I didn’t care. We just took down the best team in league.


My whole team was celebrating while I was still laying on the bench. Two of my coaches came and picked me up and carried me through the handshake line.


“We did it.” I remember thinking.


I was being carried while shaking hands with the other team. I saw them crying which even brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy. I’ve never seen a group of kids who were all as big as horses, be brought to tears from losing a game.


Coach gathered us all after the game and started to give us a speech.


“We were not the biggest, and we were not the strongest. But on the biggest stages, it does not come down to athleticism. It comes down to heart and the will to want to win, and boy did we want to win today. We showed how hard you have to work to get the victory” I will never forget what coach said to us.


 




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