Goal to Goal | Teen Ink

Goal to Goal

October 4, 2022
By spry385 BRONZE, Cascade, Iowa
spry385 BRONZE, Cascade, Iowa
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

11 years ago, I unknowingly started a journey that would have an impact on my life for years to come. At the time, I had no idea what a profound impact one simple step could have on my life. That one step I am talking about was physically no different from all the other steps I took while running around as a rambunctious and energetic first grader, but since then, walking out onto a soccer field for the first time has changed my life. 
Back in first grade, I did not know what sports I did or did not enjoy; I just wanted to run around with my friends and play anything. Soccer was just one way that I could accomplish that goal. For a few short months, I would get to chase the ball across the grass with my friends twice a week and that was enough. There was no compulsion to put in extra practice outside the required times, attempt to formulate strategies, or anything else much for that matter. All it came down to was going to practice, begging “can we please scrimmage” instead of doing what we all considered the most mundane drills the coaches could find and swarming that all-important soccer ball on the weekend games. Soccer stayed this way for many years – kick, chase, repeat. It took almost half my life for something to finally change this in my freshman year of high school. 
Up until high school, I had always played in the Dyersville recreation soccer league. Now that I was entering secondary school, there was a new opportunity emerging before me: high school soccer. I could now practice and play on a more organized team. However, this was where my journey took a strange turn. Winter was just ending, so the sign up for soccer, golf, and track was being held in the cafeteria. Although soccer seemed to be the obvious choice for a spring sport, I chose to do golf. Looking back on this moment, I am not exactly sure why I chose golf over soccer. Maybe it was because soccer was at Western Dubuque or that most of my friends were going to play golf or the enticing free golf for the next year. I really could not identify one particular reason I went out for golf. 
After signing my name and phone number on the golf sheet, it looked like I was giving up soccer and letting it fade into the background. Then, COVID-19 decided to turn the world upside-down. First school and sports were slightly delayed. Next, they were postponed indefinitely. Finally, they were completely canceled. The closure of schools and cancellation of golf due to COVID-19 saved me from possibly making one of the biggest mistakes of my life. 
During the global quarantines, I began to have the first inklings of my real fascination with soccer. It started with glancing at the occasional soccer match on T.V. From there, it morphed into the sparse but occasional trip down the soccer field by the river. The next steppingstone was coming back to school for sophomore year. Early in my sophomore year, rumblings of a potential new Cascade high school soccer program based on interest surveys from the previous year were beginning to spread through the school. One fall day, I was called down to Mr. Kedley's office with a few others who had been involved with some form of soccer in the past. Mr. Kedley asked us if we were interested in potentially playing soccer in the spring. Without much thought, I told him I had been planning to go out for golf last year, and I was not sure if I would even be considering playing soccer that coming spring. Once again, I was about to abandon soccer. Luckily, I was rescued by fate again. 
Thankfully, this time my savior was not another destructive pandemic but my friends. One friend who had also been down to see Mr. Kedley told me how there was going to be a meeting to interview potential coaches for a Cascade program. This vital piece of information was a revelation to me. Before hearing this, I had thought the rumors of a Cascade program were just that – rumors. However, I was now confronted with tangible evidence that the program might become a reality. On a spontaneous decision, I decided to go to the meeting with my friends. At the meeting, we “interviewed” a potential coach, and this conversation sparked my interest in playing soccer again. 
Fastforward half a year to the spring of my sophomore year, and it was time to sign up for sports again. This time, there was a new option available – the newly formed Cascade high school soccer team. I seized the opportunity and have never looked back. That first year of high school soccer is one of my most cherished sports memories, rivaled only by the second year of soccer. For the team, the season was filled with the highs of almost half a season undefeated, the lows of the crushing mercy rule that shattered our winning streak, and all kinds of events in between. For me, that season ignited a passion for the game I had never possessed before. Unlike previous soccer seasons, when the high school season ended, I wanted more – more time to play, more time to practice, more soccer. 
In order to fulfill my newfound desire, I started to practice and play in the off season. Most years before then, I would touch a soccer ball maybe a handful of times outside of the soccer season. Now, I was doing some form of practice or pickup game every week. The once dreaded and despised footwork and ball control drills became a favorite pastime. The harsh Iowa winters full of ice and snow did not stop me either. Instead, I cleaned off a soccer ball and a pair of old running shoes and started to practice in my basement. Really, the soft, uniform carpet on the basement floor was almost more fun to practice on than the lumpy, hole-riddled field by the river. Even my perspective while watching soccer matches on T.V. had changed. I no longer just skipped through the game to see the ball hurtle into the back of the net when a goal was scored but instead enjoyed watching the exquisite passing and footwork throughout the rest of the game. After that fateful first high school season, soccer was truly becoming cemented into the fabric of my life as a sport and a hobby. 
The 2022 soccer season was the most recent change in my views on soccer. During it, my desire to play soccer was fiercer than ever before. Bi-weekly open gyms were no longer enough to keep me occupied before real practice began, so I would practice skills on my own time. I was always looking for time to practice after school or whenever else I could. Even when there was practice five times a week, I still wanted to do more. I would wake up early to go through drills and then stay late after practice to keep working. On the weekends, I would watch Premier League soccer matches for as long as I could and think about ways I could mimic their impeccable strategies. I was ravenous, and the only thing that could satisfy me was more soccer. 
Early in my life, soccer was a time to hang out with friends and let out pent-up energy. However, this alure began to fade for me as I began high school and was faced with new sports opportunities. Despite numerous decisions that almost led me away from playing soccer forever, fate and the start of a high school soccer team reinvigorated an old passion. I no longer just cherish soccer because it is time spent with friends; soccer to me is a time to hone a skill, stay in shape, or just relax and watch on T.V. My sentiments for soccer have ranged from a nonchalant outlet for energy as a child to an almost complete disregard early in high school, but they are now blazing stronger than ever before. 

The author's comments:

This is a reflection on my experiences and feelings related to soccer.

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