Victory at All Costs

May 6, 2008
By
Sprinting along side my opponent, I had one thing on my mind; winning and controlling the ball. As we approached the ball, victory at all cost was all that mattered. Blocking out the screaming fans, I held nothing back as I lunged toward the ball. Nothing was between me and the wide open goal except this lone defender and capturing control of the ball. The soon to be collision and soggy field conditions were far from my thoughts. It was game day, victory and sacrifice were most important.

When I was younger, my whole life revolved around soccer. I ate, slept, and breathed soccer every day all day. Soccer was always on my mind. I was rarely thinking of anything else at school. During practices, I would show off my moves and I would rarely pass the ball to my teammates because I was the one that wanted to score the goal. When the weekend rolled around, I was excited to go out of the field, walk on it like I owned the place, show off and score a lot of goals.

I remember one game like it was yesterday. It was the championship game on a breezy Saturday morning. Warming up on the field off by myself, I pictured myself scoring goal after goal after goal. This was my pre-game ritual. We set up on the field and the whistle blew. My team dominated the first ten minutes with the ball on the opponents’ side of the field. One of my teammates made a good move and started sprinting down the sideline. I took off down the middle of the field yelling for her to pass
the ball to me. She played a beautiful ball right over the defender’s head and I kicked it into the net with great force. I turned and ran to the center circle yelling, “I scored, I scored. It was all me.” Running up to one of my teammates, I stuck out my hand for a high five. Instead of congratulating me, she jogged past me and gave the girl that crossed the ball a pat on the back. I didn’t understand. I was the one who scored. It was I who put the ball in the back of the net. Didn’t I sacrifice myself to score the goal? Shouldn’t I be the one that is being lifted on everyone’s shoulders and cheered for? Isn’t victory what matters most?

Many game days have come and gone since then and I was facing another game day once again. It was a cool morning in April, as we rode the bus to Burke High School for yet another soccer game. The ride was quiet with everyone getting focused for the game. We piled off the bus and made our way to the field. Our warm up seemed to fly by and the game was just about to start. We had our team discussion and then headed out to our positions. We started off to a rough start; Burke took control of the game early on. They were good and fast and made us look silly as they ran circles around us. I was working hard in trying to get control of the ball and make something happen for my team. Then there was an opportunity so wonderful I couldn’t believe it. The ball was played through Burke’s defense and I dashed for it. It was a race between me and one of their defenders. I got to the ball first and planting my foot, tried to turn the ball. My foot stuck to the moist grass and I heard a loud SNAP! I crumpled to the ground in great pain. My knee was throbbing and I couldn’t move it. Rolling on the field in agony, with tears streaming down my face, I knew it was bad. Once again I sacrificed for the team.



Now, sitting in my basement recovering from ACL surgery, I realized that victory at all costs should not come from selfish desire but from the desire to do my best for my teammates. Leaving everything on the field, sacrificing body and soul, does not always mean victory in the form of a win but it does mean victory in uniting a team and understanding that life is bigger than the soccer field.





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