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No, I haven't lost hope nor will I ever.

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Cleats, shin guards, eleven people, a ball…have you guessed it yet? Soccer, of course. My passion, the number one thing I would absolutely not be able to live without! Ever since I was just a little tyke I have been playing soccer, barefoot and all. Of course, eventually I realized if I wanted to take things to the next level and compete I would need a nice, good pair of cleats. Ohhhhh the cleats, there’s nothing quite like the smell of a brand new cleat. They’re tough to break in though; you get blisters and such - egh. Totally worth it though. Do you remember playing your now favorite sport for the very first time? Do you remember throwing that baseball or shooting into the basket? I remember the first time I kicked a soccer ball. I was only four or five. My mom took me to the park on a sweet, breezy spring day. I fell in love. There was this cute boy -- just kidding -- I fell in love with soccer. There is nothing equal, nothing that reaches the standard of the feeling you get when playing soccer. On a nice day, the sun just shining upon the field. On a cloudy day, the breeze benefiting you or not. On a rainy day, there’s nothing like a challenge. I could play no matter the circumstances, but usually here and there games get cancelled due to weather. That didn’t stop me when I went home! I got ready, wore the proper clothing, ran out of my backyard and kicked the ball around a little. This was all before I entered high school. Before I realized how infinite my skills could be; no one was putting limits on me.

More that anything my freshman year I wanted to be on varsity. I thought I was pretty good, so I was confident. After a few practices with the rest of my team I realized getting varsity playing time would be difficult. I noticed my head coach could bring anyone up for a varsity game, but it didn’t guarantee playing time. I didn’t make varsity freshman year, but I didn’t let that stop me. After the school season was over, I practiced and practiced. I was determined to be better. I wanted to be more agile, more skilled, and, most of all, more independent. I say that by meaning, I didn’t want to be the new girl on varsity who was clueless. I wanted to know at least a fake or two, even if I wasn’t perfect at performing it. Then came my sophomore year, surely, I made varsity. At doubles, I gave it my all. I fell, I tumbled, I got into that dirt and made my white shirt a dozen shades darker. Being on varsity was so much different than junior varsity. Standards were higher, and, obviously, more was expected of you. My very first game for varsity I scored three goals within the first half. Three goals! Quite frankly, I was lucky. I only scored a goal here and there after that game. That game I did realize, if I really wanted to be great, not just good but great, I can be. No one was standing in my way telling me I couldn’t do so. For the rest of the season, I started most games. I had good days and I had bad days. I got congratulated by my coach or I got yelled at by him. I remember one game I was left halfback. Back then, my left kick was not exactly what you would call extraordinary. I had the ball and I had to make a quick pass to a forward so that she could score. While I was in the moment, I didn’t know what to do. Pass or try to score myself? Consequently, I just kicked it (with my left foot). Next thing I know I was getting pulled out of the game with my coach yelling at me and asking if that was a pass or a shot? I responded with a ‘I don’t know.’ He said that neither did he. I learned that I needed to be more careful and make up my mind a lot quicker. While most would say that he was a little harsh, I would say the opposite. I’m grateful for every critique he throws at me. It makes me better, and it helps me push myself just to prove him wrong. Like the time he said I couldn’t take a penalty kick. I really can’t, but the one time he said I couldn’t I actually did just happen to make it in. Since being on varsity I have tried to excel and raise my own standards.

Junior year was a blast! I started every game, and the season just seemed much more intense. Playoffs were coming around and I was extremely psyched! I couldn’t wait to face the adversary. I was more than thrilled to even be thinking about it. Just four days before playoffs, I get injured during a practice. We were in our groups and executing the drills that were habit for us by then. I went for the ball, simultaneously so was my opponent. We collided and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor wailing in pain. I did not have a single clue to what just occurred to my body. I just remember hearing a crack as I fell. That’s all. Even recollecting it kind of brings tears. I was on the floor, my eyes seemed to have been sewn shut because I would just not open them. I felt that if I did I’d have to confront what had just happened, and I didn’t want to do that. I was hoping I fainted from exhaustion and was having a short nightmare. Well, it was a nightmare, but I didn’t faint. I was fully conscious. I opened my eyes and I realized I was still holding onto my knee. I tried straightening out, and I did. My coach said that was a good sign. That evening the school’s sport trainer put my leg in a mobilizer. He couldn’t really tell where my pain was coming from because my knee had swollen up pretty badly. I went to the orthopedic a few weeks later, and for the very first time I cried at a doctor’s office. I had torn my ACL on my left knee. I was bawling, I felt like hundreds of darts were being aimed at my heart, all at the same time. I thought, ‘How could this happen?’ and ‘Will I ever be the same?’ My mom and I went for a second opinion, hoping maybe the injury wasn’t so severe. The second diagnosis was the same. I cried again and I cried for a few days afterwards. I thought I had lost it all. A few weeks after the diagnosis I got surgery. The pain was unbearable after the anesthesia had faded. After nine days, I was able to walk again. Not normally, of course, but I could walk fairly well. I started physical therapy soon after, and I continue to go. Everyday I have a session. Three sessions with the physical therapist my doctor recommended and two with the school’s sports trainer. I haven’t lost it all. I’m recovering quite quickly actually. The swelling still hasn’t gone down, I don’t have complete strength and I don’t have full extension yet. Soon the swelling will go down, I’ll regain the strength nd I’ll have full extension. Once that happens I can play again. I can feel the exhilaration coursing through my veins. Once again I can play another game that’s a little different than life. It’s pretty similar though, in both soccer and life we need goals.





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