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Right, left, right, left. Hip to hip, elbows far out then close. My stick moves in one with my body on the field. I dodge a player to the right, but no pass this time. This time I’m the one going for it.
“Look for the open passes, girls!” Coach Taylor cheers from the sidelines, peering through his clear frames at our movements and inspecting our skills under the pressure of this final game. The last chance to prove that we are Mason Girls Lacrosse was now. Coach screams another point of wisdom that needs to be refreshed in the panic of the field. We’ve pushed past the breaking point, all of us, and portray the easy flow of passes to cradling, cradling to passing, only minor slip-ups.
Another phrase from the sideline, “Pick a side, Brittany, pick a side!” Her apprehensiveness melts and explodes into a driving bolt for the goal. But, the whistle screams; every player freezes their actions and waits. I have a spare moment in this time-out to shake loose and have a look around. My eyes squint to locate my dad and Ally in the stands, hidden between foam hands and green bandanas on the metal stands.
“Player three, moves four steps back, please,” My feet shuffle back in response to the referee and I return to playing mode. Hunched over, the whistle screams us into play; I fiercely watch the yellow ball go from Brittany’s stick past the goalie’s. Score! Our team exchanges our “Good job” mantras with smiles. Another whistle tweets, along with a hand forming a “T”. The other team conglomerates for their time-out and we meet Coach Taylor on the sideline.
“Okay, ladies. There’s only a couple minutes left in the game, “a glance at the clock shows 4:35, “so we’re gonna give everyone a chance here. All the girls that have not scored a goal raise your hands.” Heads pivot to see three palms being raised in the air, one of them my own. I think about the number of games we have played the myriad of passes completed. All the shots on goal our team has made, yet not one of them from our three sticks. My raised hand becomes fidgety.
“Okay, Kendra, Kristy, Olivia. These are the people you’re going to look to pass to.” I answer this statement with a deep breath. I breathe in and I’m ready, breathe out, I’m unprepared. In a cloud of fear and…excitement, the other girls and I raise our sticks to merge them together in our chant.
“Mason Girls Lacrosse, hoo-rah!” We break and jog back onto the turf. My brain appreciates the chance to make a contribution to the team while my heart becomes fiery with anticipation in the split second before the whistle brings everyone back into play.
As we rush back onto the field, my brain finally acknowledges what is going to happen. I’m going to be making a contribution to the team. The whistle again forces me to press away my actualization and focus on the pounding feet and swiveling sticks. So, again, I am yelling for passes, guarding my girl, while my teammates transfer the ball from their stick to the next. I know I am not the greatest player, but it almost suspect that I radiate my lack of dexterousness to everyone who sees me. Then I find myself calling for it, and I have it. I have the ball.
Coach Taylor’s huddled body yells, “Make the shot!” Amidst the roar of the crowd, calm and electric, my ears pick out affirmative phrases from my teammates.
“Go, go, woo-hoo!”
“Yeah, Olivia!” they cheer.
My breathing shifts to match my feet hitting the ground. Right-left, breathe in, right-left, breathe out.
My mind goes through the regular motions of carrying the ball. My feet bring me nearer and nearer to the goal, going against what my brain wants. An opponent jumps in to stop my destine for a shot. I almost let her. Curving behind the net, every part of my body is focused on making my goal to feel that satisfying success. It’s reminiscent of time spent at my neighborhood pool, eyeing the water, clear and inviting.
“Keep it tight, Olivia! Keep driving!”
My feet would dance upon the singeing, white concrete while the sun’s reflections on the water concealed its iciness.
I position myself perfectly, coming around from the right. My toes would dip into the water, too cold, I whip them back out. My hands pull back and tilt my stick upward, on the precipice of propelling the yellow ball from my socket into the net. Almost…but my feet stutter and back away. What am I doing? I ask my feet.
I fight past that want for what’s normal and came to what I need to do. Right, left, right, left. I can’t make this shot, I argue in my head, I don’t really need to make this shot, why don’t I just let someone else? A reminding surge of Coach Taylor’s words stop these criticisms. My three months of sore legs, burning lungs, and jumbled, frustrated emotions stop them. This was not the time for giving up. I see the flash of gold whiz in the air. Past the goalie’s hindering stick, it bounces. In. In the goal, putting up another point on that scoreboard.
That point was the result of a plunge into emotions that I had never encountered. It released wild yells from my ecstatic teammates. No longer would I believe I wasn’t capable. A buildup of small, action-deprived flames spread into a fire consuming my brain and body. The icy water evaporated.