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

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   I stepped out of my dad's '67 Buick Electra and shut the door with a crunch. Looking at my peers in soccer attire scurrying around, my eyes widened and I thought, I'm at soccer camp.

I entered the large brick edifice with optimism. When I got to my room, I threw my bag onto the dormitory floor, pulled open the squeaky dresser drawers and filled them with my clothing. I was in a can't-stop-moving mood; I had been driving all day.

After I unpacked, my parents and I went to orientation where a bored counselor delivered a speech. Then my mother hugged me. She smiled but her eyes frowned with sadness. "Good luck, David. I hope you have a good time."

I would be alone for the next week and I planned to make new friends and improve my soccer skills. Soccer camp would bring me many different emotions, including defeat and victory. I laid down on the hard bed. Stretching out my hand, touching the cold, round bedpost, I smiled, anticipating the next week. I hadn't a clue what was in store.

The first time I looked into his murky pupils I knew the ridicule this menace would readily render. David is here, I thought, and now so is Goliath. His sword of negativity cut deep into my heart and left lacerations that would heal slowly. My small slingshot of comebacks never penetrated his skin. I was a snail, and he was salt. Each day was an expedition. Waking up in the morning and facing the six-foot, 180 pound, 14-year-old was hell. Watching his dark eyes smile every time he saw my pain made my wounds deeper.

But it was my love for soccer that kept me going. Every time I made him look bad I felt good. Being better than him was the real award, at least in my eyes. I pushed myself to outdo him in every drill, to beat his team in every scrimmage, to achieve victory whenever there was a chance.

"Great job, David" and "Good work" were the counselors' responses. They meant nothing. Outdoing my opponent meant everything. My endurance was phenomenal, my ability to control the ball was improving greatly, and I now had the most important thing in any sport: heart.

When the week was concluding, we had our final scrimmages, the ones parents come to see. As I played, I owned the field, the ball, and most importantly, the other team. I played intelligently. I passed when it was right to pass, and dribbled and shot when it was time to dribble or shoot. The delicious taste of victory was in my mouth. My parents were amazed at my improvement. Although I first saw John, the menacing 14-year-old, as an attempt by God to destroy me, later I realized he was a gift who motivated me to take my abilities to the next level. Without him I probably wouldn't be where I am today. Throughout the labyrinth of our lives dead ends may appear, but as the old saying goes: "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger."


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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