As kids, almost all of us play soccer at some point. Well, everyone plays the 5-year-old soccer where everyone stands in a bunch and kicks at the ball, but then, a few from each team continue on the real soccer journey. Playing soccer is a commitment; it is late nights and weather-bearing. Soccer is emotional and even stressful, but it is also the greatest game on earth for good reason.
Here are some lessons I have learned from the amazing game of soccer:
1. Parents are incredible.
Any soccer player knows the unbelievable amount of miles a parent has to drive to games, practices and team events. Most practices are in the thick of rush hour, which meant spending all night in the car. Tournaments took up entire weekends and included long days in the scorching heat and bitter cold. Parents coordinated carpools and always made sure we were on time to the field (well, almost always).
Thank you, Mom and Dad.
2. There is no bond like that of a teammate.
Teammates are more than just friends. Teammates are a strange form of family; they are family because you spend unbelievable amounts of time with them, yet that isn’t necessarily by choice. You get in fights, you pull each other’s jerseys and you know how to push each other’s buttons; but at the end of the day you would do anything for your teammates.
Thank you, to every teammate I have had over the years.
3. You need to develop a thick skin.
Every soccer player has been yelled at, screamed at and even humiliated by a coach at some point. We have all said things we did not mean and we have all been the target of someone’s bad day. We learned colorful language from a young age and at this point, we can take criticism without being phased.
Thank you, to my coaches and teammates for toughening me up.
4. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way.
We have all played in games where our team simply can’t score. You could be outshooting a team 50-0 and end up losing 0-1. That’s just the way life and soccer work; but that’s okay, because chances are there is a game next week. Soccer taught me that the ball won’t always bounce in your favor, but you’ll always have another chance to get a win.
Thank you, to the balls that didn’t bounce my way.
5. Take advantage of your opportunities.
Some games you only get one chance to bury the ball. It is important to always take full advantage of every opportunity you have, big or small because you never know when your last opportunity will be.
Thank you, soccer, for all the opportunities I have been given.
6. You win some, you lose some and some get rained out.
Sometimes you are the winner and sometimes you are the loser, and that’s just the way it is. Sometimes you aren’t a winner or a loser, but you wasted your time and energy on an annoying rain delay or snow cancelation. No matter what happens, you always look ahead to the next opponent.
Thank you, soccer, for teaching me to win and lose
7. It is much more than just a game.
Soccer is about the places you go and the people you meet. It is about seeing new states with your best friends. Soccer is about lasting friendships that extend much further than the field and nightly practice. Soccer is about the memories made and the amazing relationships along the way; it is about muddy games and beautiful goals that will be engraved in us forever.
Thank you, soccer, for leaving a turf burn on my heart.