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Experiences With Football, Miracles, and Confidence

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Experiences With Football, Miracles, and ConfidenceIt was just a normal Friday night, hanging out with friends at a high school football game

Refreshing night air, but cold enough to make me glad for my jacket
There was a buzz in the crowd that night, we were playing our rivals
The crowed roared like a lion
Cheering and booing with each play, willing our team forward
“Chc Chc Chc Chc... AHHHHH!!! AHHHHHH!!!” screamed students doing the roller coaster


Because of how important the game was, it got pretty rough
Injuries had players dropping like flies
We were down to 18, 17, 16…
Eventually only eleven were left, the minimum for a team
They were running all the time, never with a chance to rest
Sweating and dog tired they still played on


CRUNCH!!
I looked at the field
Another one of our players is down, holding his knee and writhing in agony
“Ah crap,” my friend said “what do we do?
Our coach was obviously wondering a similar thing
We watched him talk to some skeptical officials
Then coach Van Ess, who had a reputation for being stone cold and unemotional
Walked off of the field and into the stands, with his head down in shame
He walked up the stairs to the press box
The crowd was silent, wondering what was going on


There was a staticky click
Coach Van Ess’ rough, gravelly voice filled the stadium
“So, obviously we have a problem here.
We don't have enough players for a full team,
So we are looking for anyone here that can join the team
and play for the rest of the game”


Complete and utter pin drop, dead silence.
Nobody said a word, nobody volunteered
“Nobody?” Coach Van Ess said, “Well in that case…
I guess we’ll have to pick someone”
Ok, I thought, this is getting interesting
“You there, in the green by the fence,” he said
I craned my neck, looking for the poor kid who got picked
I couldn't find anyone in green by the fence
And it didn't help that my friends were pushing me around excitedly
“Stop!” I told them, “I'm trying to find who got picked”
“Josh, you idiot!” they said “He picked you!”
Wait, what? He picked me? No, please no.
But before I could run or hide or find any other way out of the situation
Students were herding me like sheepdogs, despite my repeated complaints
“I'm Barely 14!
I'm only five four”,
I weigh less than 110!”
Nothing deterred them


Despite my dilatory efforts I arrived on the sidelines
Shoulder pads were carelessly thrown over my head
And a helmet so huge it bounced when I walked was placed on my head
Nobody even bothered to fasten it


A quick word with the coach
Which consisted of a bravery inspiring stemwinder along the lines of
“Don't die”
So maybe it wasn't very bravery inspiring, but it was good advice at least
Then I was unceremoniously shoved onto the field


I almost passed out, then and there
I'm not any good at football, soccer is my bailiwick
Sure, I can run, I'm very good at that
But these guys are six foot six, 200 pounds
There is no way I'm leaving this field in one piece
This is definitely going to be an ignominy, a disgrace


Before I could run from the field
A whistle was blown and play resumed
I stole a glance at the scoreboard
We were losing, 36-41 with only eleven seconds left in the game
A huddle was formed with our remaining few players
I peered in from outside, hoping to at least understand what was going to happen
No such luck though so I decided to study the other team
This was probably the biggest mistake of the night for me
Because they were extraordinarily intimidating
Huge, tall, blocks of solid muscle and hatred
They were obviously itching to begin their deleterious play
For the way-too-manyith time that night I was scared out of my mind


The big tough football players started to line up, so I figured the play was about to start
I went as close to the sideline as I could possibly be (I didn't want to get hit!)
Then I waited for the play to start
“HIKE”
A sound like a thousand horses running on tile hit my ears as the player’s plastic pads collided
I decided that my best course of action was to stay put
And avoid everyone not in my school’s colors


I watched for a moment as our quarterback (That’s what they’re called, right?)
Threw the ball to a player only a few feet in front of me
He missed the catch but somehow managed to keep the ball in the air
It bounced around for a long couple of seconds
Then somehow, miraculously, unexplainably, it wound up in MY hands
Yes, dear reader, the ball ended up in my hands, and I was just as surprised about it as you


I stared at it for a second, my mouth agape and my eyes wide in disbelief
But the terrifying sight of a practically full grown chunk of meat bearing down on me like a semi
Snapped me out of my shock induced stupor
I considered dropping the ball
But this was already going to be embarrassing
I didn't want to be labeled a coward as well
I decided to do the one other thing I could do
Run


I took off in a sprint
Dodging around the player that was closest to me
The thunderous screaming of the crowd dimmed to a steady drone
As adrenaline rushed through my veins
My helmet came flying off
And my shoulder pads bounced uncontrollably on my shoulders


I dodged and weaved
Through the throng of players
Praying all the way that I wouldn't get hit
After what seemed like a mile of a nonstop sprint
I crossed a line, and the people on the other team who were chasing me gave up
My “teammates” surrounded me, lifting me in the air
If the crowd was a lion before
Now they were a whole pride
Roaring with delight


Wait, did I score?
No way
I couldn't believe it
And even before I could wrap my mind around the fact
I was being thrown into the air
By a group of ecstatic students and players
The screamed and cheered with unmasked joy


I was still confused, unable to grasp the fact that I had scored the winning touchdown
But once I did realize it
I joined into the celebrations
An enormous smile on my face


I thought I couldn't do it
I thought I was going to get hurt
I still could hardly believe that I had scored
But I did
Maybe I wasn't so bad at football
Or maybe I just needed to give myself a chance




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