Making Varsity

July 17, 2008
By Jenny Tufts, Windsor, VT

An involuntary shiver
Sends a tremor down my spine,
Despite the shining green grass field
Bathed in fall sunshine.
Uniforms shimmer, green and gold,
In unison, we run.
Exhilaration overcomes fear,
The warm-up has begun.
So many strange new faces,
United by the team.
Now no longer strangers
But one continuous flowing stream.
Then the ocean of color
Shatters. A dozen sparks.
Each takes her respective place.
The sky above grows dark.
The lights come on, faint at first,
Then flood the field with light.
Everyone stands, tensed and waiting,
For the soccer ball's first flight.
I close my eyes for a second.
Breathe calmly in and out.
Try so hard to just ignore
The sideline screams and shouts.
Surrounded by these older girls
who, confident, toss their hair.
Smiling, laughing, sure of themselves.
I try hard not to stare.
Standing here at center mid
Lost in a sea of green.
Feeling small, insignificant,
Hoping I won't be seen.
But what if I am? What if I fall?
What if I am the worst?
Responsibility, a cinder block,
Almost crushes me at first.
Unexpected, a tall figure in front
Turns to look at me.
She gazes at my small freshman form.
I wonder what she sees.
Do I really belong here?
What if I let her down?
What if our loss is my fault?
I almost turn around.
I catch her eye one last time,
And then I see the smile.
She flashes me a quick thumbs-up.
I, grinning all the while.
A whistle blasts its solitary shriek.
The checkered sphere appears.
Leaping towards it in a flash,
Erasing all my fears.
Tattered cleats strike soft rubber,
The ball it soars away.
Oops, it's out. I hang my head.
What a stupid play.
But soon it's back, take off again,
Throw myself into the game.
Flying along, I calculate.
No time left to take aim.
Pure momentum carries me
Through one final bound.
I hear the slap of rubber on rope,
As I hit the ground.
Teammates swarm around me
Like so many bees,
Pick me up, brush me off,
Lift me off my knees.
For once, I am a part of the team,
I finally hear the crowd's racket.
Walk back to my place to cheers and applause
An official Yellow Jacket.
In this game are moments
When everything goes wrong.
You lose, you fall, you feel defeat
The field feels staggeringly long.
But every day, rain or shine,
Failure or success,
From the first game on, you have your team.
Who cares about the rest?

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