Finding the Will

March 12, 2009
By Megan Johnson BRONZE, Clarkston, Michigan
Megan Johnson BRONZE, Clarkston, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Finding the Will
Just when it was time to step up my game, I had to take a couple steps back before finally moving forward.

November 18, 2007
The empty fruit bowl sits by the old wilted daises Mom bought to congratulate my induction into the National Honor Society. Grin stretching, straining from ear to ear, you can tell she is proud but also heartsick that this is yet another inevitable sign that her sweetie pie is growing up. She tells all of her friends about my 'greatest achievements' and how this will boost my chances of getting into a good college, even a great one. But she doesn't see the lost desire in my eyes. The burning, itching feeling in the pit of my stomach to do something I'm good at. We are all searching. Searching to be loved, to be happy, and most of all -- to belong. A sense of belonging gives you a sense of achievement, hope. You feel as if you have conquered the world and melt with happiness with a simple smile from someone you have been trying to impress. And the truth is, I just need to forget about all of these complications, all of the pushing to be someone I'm not, all of the different directions I'm being pulled at the same time. I just need to forget about my future and live in the moment, live for myself, and live for the memories and things I love. I just wanna play my game.

April 15, 2008
So I'm standing on the green, artificial grass on a warm sunny day with my soccer ball at my feet, watching the track runner's as their hair swings sloppily across their back, arms bent, turning ever so often to talk to their running partner. Finally everyone gets their shin guards, socks, and shoes on and start to chatter away while getting up sluggishly to go for a run and stretch our tired, overworked muscles. It feels good. It feels good to wake up my legs to the nice sunlight and cool breeze of April. I can forget about everything except my Puma's thumping on the artificial green, black pieces of turf jumping like jellybeans with each faster step I take.
Bending down to stretch my calves we catch sight of our Coach. Hair in a bun, blue Clarkston sweatshirt, black Adidas pants, baby on board, walking in her little mommy strut. I shoot a glance at everyone around me and all I can see are eyes rolling and mouths pursing. We finish our stretching, unwillingly, and head over to our bags to grab our soccer balls and do our routine warm up. And when I say routine, I mean the every-single-day-never-do-anything-different-or-beneficial routine. We swivel around each cone and take a shot on net over and over and over again. Not needing to think about anything but your feet and the ball. Little did I know that two days later I would be begging to do this routine drill instead of watching it from the sidelines.
Fifteen minutes are long gone by the time Coach calls us into a huddle to talk about our most recent loss, takes a stab in the dark at why we are losing and suggests that we work on corner kicks. Dividing us into two teams, one offense and one defense, we get into position. 'Be aggressive. Defense: don't let your mark get away from you and don't be afraid to use your muscle.' The first corner kick is taken and the ball soars through the air, untouched, as it hits the cross-bar and bounces out of bounds. The look on Coach's face is priceless as we start the drill off with a great first impression (not). Arms folded tightly across her bulging stomach she glares and yells at us to hurry back into position to get ready for another kick. 'And DON'T let up just because this is your team, you play like you practice and right now you are all practicing like a bunch of pansies!'
So this round we get a little feistier and as the ball is kicked I try to shove my defender out of the way. But my ankle bent like a noodle and I fell to the ground. I immediately got up and tried to shake it off but when the pressure hit my ankle as I placed my foot to the turf I knew this wasn't a good sign. Nonetheless I jogged/limped back to my position but on the third corner kick I fell again and this time I fell hard and clutched my ankle. A rush of emotion raced to my head as I was carried off the field. I wanted to cry. Not only because my ankle was throbbing, but because I immediately started to think about the injuries I had seen my teammates encounter and I knew it wasn't easy to recover. I wanted to cry because my passion for soccer is stronger than anything I know, and it would kill me if I had to sit on the sidelines, watching other people play the game I love so much.
When I got to the trainers room, Stephanie immediately set me up on a bench and wrapped my ankle, very tightly, to keep the swelling down, since it was already swelling up like a blowfish. I could feel my hands tremble and my heart beat faster with each piece of tape she stuck to my ankle.
I finally plopped down next to my fellow handicapped teammate with a sour look on my face, wishing I could rip the tape off and get back to the soccer field. I was so angry at myself for falling. For not stopping when I knew something was wrong with my ankle the first time. Why me? I just want to play soccer. I just want to have fun and run around. Forget about all of the sub-par things going on in high school and sing on the bus with my teammates on the drive to away games. My only hope was to ice my ankle like crazy that night and pray that the swelling goes down so I could play in the game against Farmington the next day.

April 16, 2008
But the ice didn't help. And neither did the aspirin. My ankle wasn't even visible by the end of the day and I called my Dad to come pick me up for a visit with the doctor before the game. As I sat in the waiting room, bouncing my left leg up and down as if it was on a trampoline, I thought about how this injury couldn't have come at a worse time. Six of my teammates were already hurt, and the number of casualties rise almost every week. I was working so hard to get a starting spot on the team that I didn't have to pay attention to anything else in my life. I could take a step out of reality for 2 hours as I took a step onto the soccer field. But now, sitting on a squishy chair at the doctor's office, waiting to be x-rayed, I couldn't help but think back to reality that I would have to start all over again and train hard to get playing time.
After the x-ray, I tried to distract myself by reading the People Magazines that were hanging from the rack and watching the many different people walking in and out of the building to keep my mind off my throbbing ankle. When the doctor came in he told me that the x-rays showed nothing wrong with my bone (whew!) and that it was probably just a sprain. I was happy, but only for a moment until the nurse came in with the cast I had to wear for a week. When it was placed on my ankle and fitted, the nurse left the room. Tears filled my eyes and I couldn't stop them from racing down my pink cheeks. I thought of the time it was going to take to recover and all of the practices and games I was going to miss, watching my teammates, helplessly, from the cold, hard, aluminum bench.
I hopped out of the doctors office with my crutches, wishing everyone would stop staring at me just because I was injured. Walking towards my teammates with my crutches was hard, considering every one sprang up to ask me questions. 'What happened?', 'How long are you going to be on those for?', and the hardest one to answer: 'Why?!'
Later on in the last 5 minutes of the game, my legs itching and feet tingling to get out onto that field and show them what I'm made of, I thought of how lucky I actually was. Even though sitting on that cold hard bench made my butt numb, I could've had it much worse. All of the energy I had built up inside me, itching to get out, could be used towards physical therapy and training. I needed to find the will. Find the will to prove myself. I wanted a fast recovery, and I wasn't going to let anything stop me.

May 29, 2008
Time for the last game of the season. Sitting there, eyes focused, brain targeted towards victory, hands shaking slightly as I lace up my cleats. Its 45 minutes until game time and butterflies were already erupting inside my stomach as I start to stretch out. My right ankle secured tightly by the brace I had been wearing for over a month now. Hours and hours of physical therapy had paid off and I was getting playing time, but this was my time to shine, last chance I would have to prove to my Coach I deserve to be on this team and I deserve a starting position.
I gave it my all during the final warm up before the game and as I was running to get into the huddle, Coach called me aside. She congratulated me on all of my hard work since I sprained my ankle and explained how well she thought I played in practice the other day (Well it's about time you noticed!), which is why she thought that I should start the game today.
I couldn't help but give her my biggest grin, which she returned confidently. Finally. Finally my perseverance had paid off. After over a month of recuperating and getting barely any playing time, I was going to be starting in our final game and my Coach was, at long last, confident that I was worthy of a starting position.
I gave every drop of energy I had into that final game and came out on top, even though the score board said differently. I finally felt like I belonged to a team and I was pleased with my progress. While I may have been alone and unhappy sitting on the bench, thinking of how alone and unhappy I felt, I came to the conclusion that everyone has obstacles and road blocks in their path to success. I learned that no matter how severe your crisis may be, it's important to work around your difficulties and realize that things could be far worse. I was searching for acceptance and appreciation from my teammates, and through perseverance, I was finally able to achieve my goal. Looking back at how out of place I felt in high heels at the National Honors Society Induction Ceremony, I now know that I belong with my cleats on and hair up in a messy ponytail. The soccer field is my sanctuary. I found the will to push myself to be the best I could possibly be on that artificial green.

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This article has 1 comment.

Mary King said...
on Apr. 4 2009 at 2:22 am
Mary King, Lansing, Kansas
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I love this so much!!!

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