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10 Years on the Field

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My legs were shaking as I walked out of Henninger stadium, and it had only partly to do with the 4 hours of soccer I had just played. The real reason was sitting clutched in my sweaty hand, was a single white envelope with nothing but my name printed on the front, a white envelope that determined whether I would play varsity soccer this fall. I held up the letter and as my trembling fingers found the opening, I realized just how far I had come since I started to play the game 10 years ago.


*****

“Mommy come on!” I whined as she was pulling equipment out of our mini-van.

“If you help carry stuff, than we will get up to the field faster,” she told me.

“Do I have to? Can’t Dad do it?”

“Your father is watching your brother,” she told me, her voice taking on a stern tone. “Now come carry the cones up to the field and maybe you can even help set up one of the drills.” At the prospect of helping to set up a drill, my eyes lit up and I ran back to the car. I snatched up the tiny orange cones, and turned back around towards the fields. A smile crept across my mom’s face, and together we walked up to the fields behind the school of H.W. Smith.

In the mind of a five year old only one thing could make a school property exciting and that was a playground. So, naturally when we reached the expanse of fields behind the school, the huge dinosaur themed playground caught my eye. The playground was crawling with the majority of the kindergarten and first-graders that made up the youngest division of East Side Soccer.

My mom, sensing that I wanted to go join them, said “You can go play after the game, but we need to start soon.” I nodded and wistfully followed my mom to our field.

We were assigned to the field in the back corner of the area that was bordered by trees on two sides. We set down the equipment and my mom went and talked to the other coach. I stood near the equipment and admired all of the tiny orange cones, the dozen black and white soccer balls, and the crate full of juice boxes and granola bars.

All at once people began to come over to the field. Some kids were running full speed for the field, tripping over their shoelaces, while others were being dragged, kicking and screaming by their parents. Now, I wasn’t standing alone. Other kids, most of whom I didn’t recognize, were standing near me with their parents next to them. Once a good number of people had gathered, my mom and the other coach walked over. The coach was a man who was a little bit taller than my mom, with dark hair, a little bit of a beard and roundish glasses. When they joined us, I noticed the cardboard box that they must have had with them the entire time. The coach with the beard started to open the box and then began to introduce himself. “Hello, my name is Mr. Mason and I will be your coach this year along with Mrs. Gray,” he said and then gestured for my mom to speak.

She smiled and began to talk, “Hello, my name is Mrs. Gray, but you can call me Kristy. As Mr. Mason said, I will be one of your coaches over the course of this year. I am going to call out your names and when I call you, please come up to the front of the group and I will hand you your uniform which you should put on as soon as you receive it.” After she spoke she picked up a clipboard with the team roster on it and began to read off names.

“Lauren”

As I had expected my name had been first and I smiled and grabbed my orange shirt, black shorts, and black socks before sitting back down. I looked over the jersey in my hands and admired it, it was dark orange with a little figure of a person playing soccer on the front and the number one printed in neat white lettering on the back.

Other names were being called out of kids I didn’t know and soon everyone was being wrestled into the same shirts, shorts, and socks by their parents. My mom walked over once she was finished and helped me with mine. Once I was all dressed and ready I must have been quite the sight. My short blond hair was up in pigtails, and I was so short that my jersey reached down past my knees so that you couldn’t even see my shorts and the hem covered the top of my socks in a way that made it so none of my legs were showing.

The coach blew his whistle and the team ran over to meet him in the middle of the field. Again, I noticed just how many kids either were not participating, or were being dragged over by their parents. My mom carried over the balls and dumped them on the ground, and as promised I was allowed to help set up the cones. We took the balls and played games such as sharks and minnows and pirate treasure. Suddenly, the sharp sound of an air horn cut through all of the noise, signally that the actual games were due to begin.

The coaches picked five of us to stay and play on this field and the other kids went and played on a different field. I was picked to stay, and so I walked out onto the field looking just as lost as all of the other kids. When the whistle blew I ran, and a smile spread across my face. I ran after every ball, and chased down every player. I was having so much fun that I even forgot that I wanted to play on the playground.

*****
“Well I guess we should open it,” said my friend Rachel, her voice bringing me back to reality.

“Yea, we might as well get it over with,” added my friend Olivia. I nodded and I slid my finger along the seal and opened the envelope. I slid out the folded paper and began to read. My eyes scanned the first couple of sentences but they didn’t tell me what I needed to know. I took a deep breath and continued to read.

“I made it!” gasped Olivia.

“Me too!” said Rachel, letting out a sigh of relief. My eyes found the line on the page that I was looking for and I read the word congratulations.

“I did it!” I said, with a smile of relief spreading across my face. I had made the varsity soccer team.



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