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

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I stand, separating myself from my comfortable corner. Coach has nothing to say. Our heads hang as if an early frost has come. I cannot bear to witness this anymore.

We have two choices: curl up and die or spring back to life.

Heads rise as I stroll to the middle of the pack. I am met by faces pleading for sympathy. I open my mouth to speak to my teammates. Eyes and ears perk up. I see a growth of spirit and hear the howling begin to fight into their throats. Every man in the locker room is meeting my stare of intense determination.

“Look at the person next to you. Would you fight for this person? I would fight for any of you, and I have been fighting all game. Now is the time to fight for each other. Finish what we have started,” I yell.

The frost once coating our team has been replaced by flames. We explode onto the field, ready to fight.

I am back between the pipes. This is my fortress. I protect my fortress with my life. Pressure keeps me on my feet and allows me to excel. Adrenaline pumps through my body. To be a goalie takes a special kind of individual. That is exactly what we are: individuals. Drive, determination and discipline matter just as much as a free spirit, spunk, and passion.

Even though I remind people of an army general while on the field because of how I bark commands, you almost always see me sporting a tie-dye shirt or neon flat-bill hat off the field. I inspire my teammates and bring life to the team. They entrust me as the last defense between a win and loss. I bear this weight with much satisfaction, knowing that my efforts are being put to good use.

Every time I see a ball flying in my direction I don't react, I respond. I calculate what my body and mind must do. I don't flinch. I don't question. I answer the oncoming threat with a smooth calmness practiced hour after hour in all aspects of my life.

We lost that game. The deficit proved too great, but it brought out an intensity that would stay with us in games to come. The following week, we upset a team that had beaten us eight years in a row. We fought.

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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Daniel C. said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 11:05 am
"Pep Talk" is one of the best articles I've read in Teen Ink.  It motovates me to be a team leader.  It taught me that even a speach can affect the result of a game or anything.  As a athlete I know that he players to look up to the captian of the team to give them directions on how to win.  I hope to one day be the leader of a team just like you were to this team.  I'm glad that you took the time to write about the way you affeted your team, because you didnt just affec... (more »)
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