Ten years. That's a long time to put blood, sweat, and tears into something. I suppose it could have been even longer, but I didn't know that at the time. My decision was rash, ill-thought-out, and all too quickly made. But what do you expect of a 15-year-old who was losing their first love right before their eyes?

Ten years. I wouldn't change those ten years for anything. Oh, how I wish I could have them back.

Let me make this a little clearer for you... Beginning at the age of five I found myself falling hard for a sport, and that sport was soccer. It started out in a church league, but it led to early morning games and weekend tournaments. For ten years soccer was my life. It was all I knew. It was all I wanted to know.

All that changed following the fall season of my freshman year of high school. The majority of the girls on my team decided they no longer wanted to play on the challenge level and were content to playing school ball in the spring, so our team disbanded. That forced me to make a decision. I could either join a different challenge team the following fall, or I could quit CASL soccer altogether. I'm sure by now it's quite clear the decision I made. As opposed to continuing my love, I decided I would focus on academics and work on getting accepted to my dream school.

Looking back on that decision, at the time it seemed right. But now, I realize all the reasons I left soccer were merely excuses for why I thought I wasn't good enough. I'd played with the majority of the same girls for those ten years and it scared me to leave all of those friendships behind in an attempt to try to mesh with another group of girls. Stupid, I know, but at the time it seemed like a big deal.

I'm sure you're curious as to why I didn't just join the school team that next spring. I thought about it, don't get me wrong. The truth is, I ended up talking myself out of it by saying I wouldn't have been good enough to do well on a high school soccer team. Now, I'm not going to say I'm the next Mia Hamm by ANY measure, but I was pretty decent. My reasoning for not joining the school team was ridiculous. But that's the decision I made and now I have to live with that.

So there you have it, at 15 years of age I left behind the sport I loved more than anything in the world. If I were to go back now, I wouldn't have made that same decision. But I can't change the past and I have to live with that.

Regret's a funny thing. At the time you don't feel it, but it's there. It hides in the shadows until you least expect it.

For me, it wasn't until my junior year of high school when I went to my cousin's soccer game and realized the mistake I made. As I sat on the sidelines watching these young girls run around the field, my heart yearned to be able to put my jersey on once more and play the sport I knew oh-so-well.

Of course, there are still opportunities for me to play. I could join an intramural team or tryout for club soccer, but it wouldn't feel the same to me. It's as if I'm too far removed from that young girl who loved that sport with so much passion that it consumed her entire life. The competitive fire and love for playing will always be there, but there's rust. Just as there would be if you left a bike out for years without using it. There's a chance I could one day get back to the skill level I was at, but there's no guarantee. Also, as I'm sure almost any competitor knows, it's infuriating to not be able to compete at the capacity you once did.

Maybe I'm once again making excuses, who knows. None of that really matters though because it will never change the decision I made five years ago. Soccer will always have a place in my heart, and will always be a huge part of who I was and who I am. That sport raised me. Not in the way a parent does, but it taught me so many things about myself. It provided me with structure, friendships, and a happy place. It supported me and loved me.

So, yeah, I do regret giving all that up. The day I gave up soccer, I gave up so much more than just a sport.