I Promise You, Pokémon Cards Aren't Just For Kids

I Promise You, Pokémon Cards Aren't Just For Kids

It took some time to gain enough confidence to begin actually playing the game competitively. Once I started, though, there was no going back.
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Right before the summer after my senior year of high school, I was getting bored.

I was bored of school, bored of the sports I played, and bored of my job and bored of the usual things that took up the bulk of my time. One day, in early May, I was watching videos on YouTube when a video by the channel maxmoefoePokemon appeared in my recommended feed. I watched the entire 10-minute video of a hyper Australian man in his mid-twenties get overly excited about opening Pokemon cards. I recalled the collection I had as a kid and wished I had learned to play the card game properly, and more importantly, wished I didn’t trash or donate all the cards.

I talked to my boyfriend a few days later and I asked if he had ever played the card game. He said he did. We sat on his bedroom floor for hours and went through the bulk of his collection. I was amazed. There was a whole new world opening its doors for me to discover.

A week later, I found myself on a Target run. I wandered to the toy section for a brief moment, just to get one little thing. A pack of Pokemon cards. I bought a pack of the most recent set at the time - Sun and Moon Base Set. I opened the pack as soon as I got to my car. To my luck, within the 10 cards in the pack, I found a Full Art Espeon-GX. GX cards are special Pokemon cards that typically have higher HP (health) and 2 attacks. Each GX Pokemon also has a GX attack, which can only be used once per game. They could also have an ability, which allows more interaction between players to interact with each other.

From that moment, I was hooked. I sent a picture of the card to my boyfriend and asked if it looked like it was any good. He said it was. He was interested in getting back into the card game and asked if I would want to build a deck around my Espeon GX. I excitedly agreed.

My first ever deck revolved around two Psychic-type Pokemon - Espeon, an evolution of everyone’s favorite Eevee, and Garbodor, a literal pile of trash. Together, they worked to shut off the abilities of other Pokemon cards and hit for big damage.

It took some time to gain enough confidence to begin actually playing the game competitively. Once I started, though, there was no going back. Of course at first, I often lost to more experienced players. I took every loss as a lesson and analyzed what I did wrong and how I could fix it the next time.

It was also important for me to look at every win in a critical light. How could I have won easier? How could I have played differently? Did I simply get lucky?

As I improved my skills, I was better able to understand the different decks I was playing, as well as the decks my opponents were using. In doing so, I could better make a decision based on my opponent’s deck and their actions.

I found myself having the most fun I’ve had playing competitive games in years. Plus, I got to spend more time with my boyfriend, which is always time well spent. Some of my favorite memories of my boyfriend include late night deck building the night before a tournament.

Making changes to the deck you play is crucial. One card really can make a difference in winning or losing the game. Tool cards like Choice Band add extra damage. Fighting Fury Belt boosts HP. Field Blower gets rid of tool cards like the two previously mentioned. Increasing or decreasing the count of cards like those can really impact the way a deck functions.

Pokemon hasn’t just been an event my boyfriend and I do together. We have met some really awesome friends along the way. Once on a Saturday morning in the middle of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we met three people we continue to talk to and go to tournaments with today. Both me and my boyfriend and the friends we made that day traveled over an hour to get to the tournament, so the fact that we all went on that day and happened to start talking is seemingly a miracle. We began going to the weekly tournaments that our new friends went to and met even more people there. Our group chats are always lively and our texts consist of new ideas, rumors of new cards, friendly conversation, and of course banter.

Now, I’ve been playing Pokemon the Trading Card Game competitively for almost a year. I’ve been to tournaments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Just a few months ago, I placed 5th at a huge tournament in New Jersey. With that placement, I gained bragging rights and a free VIP ticket to a much larger tournament that will take place in August.

Through going to Pokemon tournaments, my boyfriend and I have made friends with people we would never have met otherwise. This summer, we will be traveling to both Virginia and Ohio for tournaments, where we will be given the opportunity to bond with the friends we have already made, and meet plenty of new people!

I am so very grateful for the opportunities I have had to be introduced to Pokemon the Trading Card Game. I am beyond thankful for the people that I have met and how welcoming the community can be. Pokemon has been more than just a hobby for just me and my boyfriend. It has become an important part of our lives, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/nintendoleavelucktoheaven/?hc_ref=ARRr6Taww_TOFspisVi8dGe3TV4APsHjE6s_Iue10snsVRKqTp7_KUmCEJkO7f1LbEM&fref=nf

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To The Coach Who Inspired Me Forever

Anyone who's found a love for a sport (or sports) while playing for rec teams, club teams or teams for a local school, can agree.. that somewhere along the way, there was a coach that changed everything.

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When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first organized sport. It happened to be the Fall of the year I entered kindergarten and the sport happened to be soccer. Now, at this age calling it, an "organized" sport is quite a reach. We met once a week, put on our colored pennies and ran around in a big field while a volunteer coach really thought they'd have the chance to corral us. That year, I continued through the seasons and got my first glimpse at a number of other sports. Cheering, basketball, and t-ball were all on my to-do list, and soon I was hooked.

Every week I would look forward to games on the weekend and a practice or two along the week. By the third or fourth grade, I believed I had narrowed down the sports I really wanted to play: soccer, basketball, and baseball. I played all of these until the fifth grade when it was first suggested that I switch over to softball.

I absolutely hated the idea of this but, that spring it happened. I was the first one to be "drafted" onto a team, that come to find out, was the team that always finished last. Even knowing this, I continued to play and learn every position and somehow leading my team to its first championship in years.

This.

This was the moment I learned to love the sport I least expected to, and first met the coach who would change my view on the game. Although the story leading up to this point may not have been the same as yours, we all know the moment we realized, this coach was going to change us.

For me, this coach over my middle and high school careers became one of the most important people in my world now revolving around this sport. He fought for my spot on the middle school team when the coach claimed I was "too young" and wanted to give older girls a spot. He pulled me to the varsity lineup as a Freshman and trusted me to catch every-game behind the plate of the senior pitcher who clearly had the speed and talent to pitch collegiately. He continued to mentor me, step by step as my role on the team transitioned from freshman catcher, to second baseman, to senior captain pitcher.

This coach changed everything for me. He taught me respect and accountability and I'd get out what I put into not only the sport, but all my other endeavors. He taught me integrity, and perseverance. But he also taught me how to have fun while I played. How to step onto the field and play my hardest, but know no-matter the score as long as I did my best it was a good game.

I had never known what it was like to have someone other than my parents be so invested in my success before. Of course, they're going to be there for every game, every carpool to practice and every early Sunday morning tournament. But often times, the coach who leaves it all on the field goes unnoticed. The coach who will sit after a game and cry with you after you played your very last game... the coach that truly made you believe in yourself.

So here's to him. Here's to the blood, sweet and tears left behind. Here's to "the good, the bad and the ugly" as he'd say, and learning that any bruise can be fixed by rubbing a little dirt on it. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for shaping me in to the player I am today, and continuing to do so for others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to be the best I could be.

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