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Red Card This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The morning after junior prom, overtired and grumpy, I got up to meet my lacrosse teammates at school for an away game. We had lots to talk about, of course.

At the field, we warmed up and stretched. I was eager for the game to be over so I could go home and sleep, but at the same time wanted to play my best because lacrosse is important to me, and I didn't want to let my teammates down.

We started the game strong, passing and giving it our all. As a forward, I scored two goals in the first 20 minutes and a teammate scored another. When the other coach called a time out, we assumed he was getting nervous, so we huddled together to psyche ourselves up.

As soon as we started again, I could tell that the girl guarding me was being more aggressive. I assumed the coach had lectured her about staying on me to keep me from scoring. When I got the ball, she obnoxiously started screaming, "Ball, ball, ball!" I imagined her purpose was to distract and annoy me, which was exactly what she was doing. Even though I should not have, I let her get to me. She was all over me and continuously screamed so near me that I could smell her breath and see the sweat dripping from her eyebrows. I was anxiously waiting for the referee to blow his whistle and call, "On the body," but he never did.

I flipped out, and my intense language led the referee to pull a red card from his shirt pocket, which only enraged me more. That red card prohibited me from playing the rest of the game, as well as the next one. I felt frustrated, fatigued and, most of all, worried about what my coach would say. I ran off the field trying to hold back my tears, but as soon as my coach put his arm around me, trying to calm me, I immediately let it out with a flow of tears that seemed neverending. To make matters worse, I didn't know what my principal would say once she heard about the incident.

I found out the next day when Sister Mary called me to her office to tell me the dreadful news: I could not play for the rest of the season or be the captain my senior year. "This is not how a young woman of this school should behave," Sister Mary lectured. It was not the first time my temper had gotten me into trouble, but this was the worst punishment.

At that moment, I thought I despised Sister Mary for her decision, but I now realize I was actually angry at myself. Her purpose was to help me learn from my mistake, and I understood that I cannot change my past, but I can change my future. Getting kicked off the lacrosse team, the sport for which I have such passion, really opened my eyes to what I was doing to myself. My temper was bringing me down.

During the long nights I lay awake, I pondered what I had done and how I might have handled the situation more maturely. I believe things happen for a reason, and this incident taught me a key lesson: I really have to think before I act.

The following fall I played soccer, which tested my temper since girls would get rough and pushy. I felt myself being more easygoing and not letting the little things bother me. When a girl said something, or gave a little sneaky push, I would just chuckle and play harder. Now, every time I have the urge to let myself get mad, I think of my lacrosse incident. This experience made me more mature and I now know what I do can either make me or break me. It's all my decision.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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