Monday, January 16, 2012

On A Level Playing Field

If someone had asked me 10 years ago if I wanted to go to a soccer game, I would have thought they were crazy. What kind of stupid ass sport is that? I'm not a real sports enthusiast, but really, chasing a ball up and down a field, trying to get it between 2 poles without using your hands to get it there?
Ten years ago this summer, we enrolled Whitney in soccer. She was probably six years old. She had taken dance for two years but we could see that was not going to be her forte'. We signed her up, picked up the reversible shirt, got the little size 3 ball and waited for that Saturday morning that would change our lives.

From day one, Whitney was a brute. She had an amazing talent as far as kicking that ball. She could kick that ball almost the entire way from one end of the field to the other. Keep in mind, when you are on a team with 6 year old kids, the field isn't huge, but from their eyes, it might as well be a mile. Anyway, right from the beginning, Whitney was put in to be goal keeper most of the time. She was a chubby little curly haired girl with no fear (most of the girls were pretty afraid of the boys) and a great kick.

Whitney has played on approximately 15 different teams in the last ten years. She has played both co-ed and all girls, indoor and outdoor, home team and club/travel team, AYSO, USSF, MMYSL, and on Junior Varsity for her high school. I don't have team photos from every single team, but you get the idea below. These teams are not in any specific order and Whit is normally the one smack in the middle because she is the keeper (hence the name ... Mine's a Keeper). The first photo is about her 2nd year playing.
There have been some really amazing coaches along the way. Without them, Whit would not be the player that she is today. If I remember correctly, her first coaches name was Coach Berger. Since then we have had Coach Angel (too many times to count and is currently Whit's indoor coach), Coach White, Coach Edgett, Coach Wade, Coach Keck, Coach Rogers and Coach OC. There have probably been a few more here and there for a session or season that I can't remember, but we have loved every single one of them.

Our journey through the years has taught us that you win as a team and you lose as a team. You don't have to like your teammates at school, but when that clock is running, they are your best friends and treat them as such. If it ain't broke, get up and keep playing. A little blood is a good thing. Don't take shit from anyone on the field, stand your ground. Always protect your house. Never let anyone in. And one very important reminder ... when the clock hits 53 seconds to go, watch for that penalty kick, it will haunt you forever.

Another really important part of this journey is that once you make a true friend on the field, no matter where they are from (Steffanie from Mason and Amanda from Grand Ledge), they will always be a friend.
I am really excited and looking forward to the beginning of spring soccer. I am sure she will be on the Junior Varsity again this year because Varsity already has their 2 keepers. I know there are a couple of younger girls trying out for keeper this year, but I'm not too worried. Whit proved herself last year so I'm confident in her abilities. Here's to another great year with no serious injuries.

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