“Somebody Call 911!” As these four measly words were shouted in panic from the field, my veins flooded with adrenaline in anticipation. I watched as a cluster of people crowded around my injured teammate laying on the ground as if she were glued down to the thin slivers of dark green blades of grass. No one had seen this coming. The opposing team was barely a challenge for my own and they were so dysfunctional; I felt as though I was being thrown around a crowd of clowns. We were up 5 to 0 and the whole team thought we would leave the field with an easy win, no problems at all; we were all wrong.
It was our first home game of the season; my whole team was ready to go. The previous game was a close call and we were all ready to take back the win. I am sitting in the dugout, the bleachers frigid against my back. The overhang of the porch eclipses the sun as it beats down on us, impairing our vision with its glaring rays. I pick up my cleats banging them together, the loud clash of plastic spikes fills the air and little brittle pieces of dried earth slowly fall back to the ground where they first came from. Watching the dirt vigorously fly off of the bottom of my soccer cleats reminds me of the grit and determination of the previous game. The orange and black check mark of the Nike swish zones me in and makes me think of mistakes made in past games. The ground is on fire and my shoes are engulfed in the scorching flames emerging from the earth below. Fifteen minutes before game time we launch into our stretches. We do short drills to get the feel for the field and the ball. We feel the heat on our backs as we struggle against the wind sprinting towards the ball. The referee calls for our attention, it's time to play. Our coach calls us off one by one, shouting out our formation on the field. We all gather in a circle and roar out our chant. “1,2,3… GO TEAM!!!”. We are all filled with energy as our hands fly up into the air all at once. We are ready to begin.
The breeze wisps by as the hairs on my arms stand on end. The grass underneath my feet crunches as I bounce on my toes in anticipation as the other team takes the kick. The silence oppressed the field as though a plague has wiped out all life. The only noises heard are whispers of anxiety coming from the crowd. I hear the screech of the refs whistle as it abruptly shatters the silence. The game is off as the hexagonal pattern of the ball races by. Both teams scramble to find direction. I can feel the blood rush to my face as the blazing sun weighs me down increasingly throughout the game. We rush towards the ball, tussling with the opposing team for possession. With each kick we get a feel for the level of competition this team will give us. As the ball flies across the field we know that this will be an easy win. All is going accordingly and we are up 3 and 0 at halftime.
Second half starts and we are getting tired now. We have been playing well and I am waiting to go into goal. Two more goals and I get subbed in. I listened to the roars of the crowd as the ball swooshes into the net, to make our fourth goal. We set up at the midline once again. Fans cheering from the stands, coaches screaming from the sidelines, players looking left and right ready to pounce at the ball when the opportunity is given. We are now in the heart of the game. The grass of the field, wet with dew, glistened in the early afternoon as the sun was rising into full motion evaporating the wetness from the ground. The lines of paint rub off on my cleats as my feet are shuffling, my legs tired and worn down. The breeze wisps past the tops of the trees and I listen to the rustling leaves. The old wood is creaking as families in the stands test the endurance of the old bleachers, rusted from years of rain. Goals at each end stand in place as the white braided nets await the pressure of the ball. The reff fills his whistle with air as the race for the ball starts once more. The opposing team is now in possession of the ball, until our half back takes a swoop for the ball and boots it to the eighteen yard box. I watch from the sidelines as our forward is racing to the ball. Wind, sun, and sweat all dripping down our faces, obstructing our vision, unable to see against the protruding rays of the sun and floods of sweat beads rolling down our faces in a steady stream.Pushing ourselves farther and farther we are searching for the win. Our forward moves like a gazel. She was calm, watching her surroundings waiting for the play. She was anticipating the move and you could see the gears turning inside of her head as we watched her position changed. Then she pounced, quickly but steadily moving towards the circular ball of flying flaming fury as it touches the clouds in the hot air filled sky. One more kick from our forward and we all throw our hands in the air at the fifth and final goal for our team. The whole team is pumped up and full of energy.The coach calls out my name as I take the field in place of our goalie. The other team has the ball; this will be the last kick off of the game. Not even two minutes after their kickoff, the whole crowd gets silent. I look up from the goalie box and find one of my teammates is on the ground; a member of the other team to her right.
She lay motionless on the ground. Her long, thin legs curled up to her chest. You could barely see her lungs rise up and down as she lay on the field, just beyond the midline. Her long, dark brown, flowing hair was swept back after she had flown in the air and suddenly hit the ground with a loud thud. People crowded around her and as she sat up you could tell from the solemn look on her face she was in a lot of pain. She was trying to force a smile. Being sweet and kind as usual. She did not shout out at the girl who had hurt her, but simply made the best of her situation. She was the most calm one in the whole stadium and she was doing everything to make sure everyone knew that she was fine. Or at least pretending to be fine. She was strong as usual and acted with great levelness through the whole situation.
As the coach runs from the sidelines, I watch in anticipation to see if she will get up. The team member from our competition immediately stood up. She looked down from where she stood at our player and simply walked away as if she were proud of what she had done. I am watching from afar, but I can hear the sly comments made by the other team. “I was hurt too, but I don’t need help.” , “Somebody Call 911”, they were singing as our coach yelled for someone to call for an ambulance. As I heard their chanting I felt my fists clench. My face red from the sun and anger as I kept inching closer step by step. I was eavesdropping waiting for the results. I hear the whispers as they are concluding her leg is broken. Two girls from the other team high fived. I was about to say something to them, but the game was officially called. They had forfeited and it was our win, but we did not feel like victors.Waiting in suspense as my teammate lay on the ground was the worst feeling. We were all scared and wished she would simply get back up and shake it off. While waiting for the ambulance our whole team was surrounded around our injured player. There was nothing we could do for her and that was the worst part. We left the field that day with a victory, but we felt bitter and angry on the inside.
This was just one game of many that I have played with different people on different teams. But this game taught me something. It taught me how much my team members actually mean to me. Everytime I put on those orange and grey Nike cleats, I get pumped up for the game. I remember past mistakes and as I step out on the field, I am there for the game, but more importantly for my team. I am simply one person among many trying to work together to achieve a goal. It is more than a game and a team. We have created friendships and when we are on that field we are supporting and encouraging each other through the whole thing.