The dreaded time of year has come and has come unusually fast as we flew through the season so quickly that I could barely soak it all in. The practices, the bus rides, the long film sessions, and all the meetings. The lift sessions, early morning conditioning, and scrimmages are all over just like that within the blink of an eye. The routine that has been engraved in you almost your whole life has unraveled, has fallen from your life like a leaf, detracting from your life quietly and silently, happening so fast and so abrupt that you can't even grasp what's happening.
It's that dreaded time to hang up your cleats, pack up your locker, wear that uniform stamped with your number and your school name for the last time. Your time as a collegiate athlete has ended; your time as an athlete has ended. Yet, what you left with me is more permanent than that; what you taught me as my teammate, no matter how long we played together, is what I carry out of our time with one another.
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I will never forget the smiles and laughs I held with you, seniors; the times when the coaches had no control over us and when we had to grab onto each other to stay upright because our sides would be stitching over. The safety I felt surrounded by my team, surrounded by all my biggest supporters. My time with you was marked with growth, happiness, and laughter, but was also paired with the heartbreaking sadness I watched you take on during moments when everything was not okay. When we were a vulnerable and broken team. When our game was upsetting us so much we had to lean on each other for support again, but this time with understanding and a collective feeling of needing each other.
I love the game I play not because of all the statistics, competition, and schedule. I love the game of soccer because I am given this blessing to write our own story; write our own script for every season, practice, and game. Especially the games. Every game I spent with my teammates was a part of our story, a few hours we shared there were villains, and there were heroes. Every play was a triumph and every breakdown was a tragedy. We are all running downfield towards this one shared goal and every second on that clock mattered. It's life changing; it's like our own personalized chapter every day is being written and by the end we have a whole story. A whole season with jokes, stories, and growth.
You're graduating, moving onto bigger and better things, simply growing out of the sport that raised you. You will miss it so much, but your old teammates will miss you more. It's hard to say thank you for so many things, but thank you for everything. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play with you, against you, and for you almost every day. Thank you for teaching me the knowledge and skills you had gained ahead of me and passing along the wisdom you possessed. Thank you for every little moment you gave me every day that I spent by your side representing the same goal as you. Thank you for being by my side when times were hard for me, when I was lost in my journey of life, lost in who I was, and where I wanted to be. Thank you for being so much more than my teammate but a friend, a teacher, a forever field sister.
Thank you for your time, which is the most important thing you gave me because in that time I learned so much about being a teammate, so much about the game, and so much about you. You're leaving our team now and moving on, but we will always be connected through the sport we love, the sport we dedicated so much of our life to. I wish you luck in your future endeavors, and I hope you know that I am always here for you because how much I care about you doesn't end with the season; it will carry with me for the rest of my life.
For you: thank you. Thank you for being part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours.