To The Athlete Who Now Wears My Jersey

To The Athlete Who Now Wears My Jersey

Each jersey has a story; here is mine.

The world's most successful soccer player, Mia Hamm, once said "Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game....and never looked back."

I started playing soccer when I was five years old, where I couldn't care less about the big picture. I stood on the pitch, with my shoes that weren't cleats and my shinguards I put over my socks. When I was in third grade, I joined the traveling team, where I began to open up and appreciate the sport I was blessed to be able to play. As time passed and I grew older, I gladly joined the high school team.

My high school career was successful, ranging from the opportunities I had to make life-long friendships, all the way up to scholarships to play in college. Many have worn this number fifteen jersey before me -- many memories have been made. Each jersey has a story; here is mine.

Freshman year, I wore this jersey when my name was called in the starting varsity lineup. I wore this jersey when I scored my first high school hat trick and had some kickass cuts and bruises. This jersey was worn when I scored the beginning goal for the second round of playoffs against a tough opponent and was embraced by my fellow teammates. I wore this jersey when we lost a heartbreaking 5-6 in said playoff match, which resulted in thousands of tears and a bus ride filled with memories.

Sophomore year, this jersey was worn when I made friends with all eight of our seniors. This jersey was worn during the traditional start, where the team huddles with arms around one another, moving our shoulders left to right chanting, "Osky, Osky, Osky...Indians on three, 1, 2, 3, INDIANS!"

I was blessed to wear this jersey as I broke the school record of 'Most Hat Tricks In One Season" and hit an all-time personal record of 14 goals that season. I wore this jersey when I bawled my eyes out after losing to our rival in the second round of playoffs, meaning I was saying goodbye to the best season of my life with my best friends. This jersey was worn when I was embraced by my parents and was told numerous times how proud they were of me.

Junior year, I wore this jersey during the most difficult time in my life. I wore this jersey with a new coach, where many aspects of my game then changed. I struggled in that jersey. I fought for my spot in that jersey.

I said goodbye to teammates I'd played this sport with for what felt like a hundred years. I received my third letter in soccer with this jersey on my back. I overcame some hardships and lost to many others during this season. I learned the most important lesson in life with that jersey -- not everyone is going to like you, and that's okay.

Senior year, I wore this jersey. However, not every aspect was the same. My junior year changed me in a way I'll never be able to explain, which changed how I performed in sports. I had chosen to swim in the fall and fell in love with the sport. I struggled to love the sport of soccer as much as I loved swim in that jersey. In this jersey, I cried too many times. Every practice and game was a battle between my head and heart. I played my last ever game in this jersey and hugged my fans who drove up to watch. In that jersey, I walked off the field for the very last time. I earned my last letter with that jersey and watched my last season video with my teammates at my last banquet.

So, to the girl who will wear my jersey next,

Know that many tears were shed in it, happy and sad. Know that every game was played for the name on the front and each game was played for a different reason. Know that lots of history was made, whether it was personal goals or a school record, like beating one of our rivals for the first time in school history. Know that there were several bouts of disappointment in that jersey, that can equally be matched with the several bouts of joy. Know that my blood is truly on that jersey forever. Know that when you wear this jersey, you wear years of hard work, so please don't wear it lightly. To the girl who wears it next, honor the time you have; not all of my years were perfect, but I wouldn't trade what has been done for anything. Give it all you have, play as a teammate and not as an individual, finish that last sprint set, and last but not least, remember the little girl who fell in love with the game...sometimes she's all you need.

Cover Image Credit: David Stropes

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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Why Are The Best Soccer Players Midfielders and Forwards?

Have you ever wondered why the forwards are more well known than any other position


What is the most important position in soccer? To some surprise there isn't one position that dominates over others. Similar to most team sports there isn't one position that necessarily reigns supreme. It can be understood that without a certain player then the other players might not work as well together. There needs to be a centerpiece to build the team around. Take Barcelona for example, the team has been built around Messi since he began playing for him. He is the centerpiece and before him was Xavi and Iniesta. The centerpiece of the team has to be someone you can develop but will also help develop other players.

But can the centerpiece be a different player? Some could make the argument that it is the forward or the midfielders. Others can bring up the idea that it is the goalie. Is there one position on the field that necessarily is viewed as the leader? No. Take the Spain national team from 2010. The final was won by Andres Iniesta scoring the lone goal. While it can be viewed that neither team scored it can be approached as both defenses playing extremely well. So there isn't really one dominant position in the game. But if you ask someone who played the sport, well the answer can vary.

Soccer is a team sport. It starts with the eleven on the field and ends with the same eleven. Each player has a role and brings different skills to the table. Ball control and speed are critical in matches and there will be times you want a certain player to have the ball. It is worth noting though that many of the well-known soccer stars share the same position. Lionel Messi is a forward, Cristiano Ronaldo is a forward and Neymar is a forward. Do you see the trend? If someone looks up the main objective of a forward they will see that their role is to start the game and be a field general at the top part of the field. But what about the other ten players?

There are eleven players on the team and it can be viewed that the front six play offense and the back four (and goalie) play defense. The back four have without a doubt the toughest job in the game when they have to go toe to toe with some of the most elite athletes. Think about players such as Neymar, Iniesta or Luka each of these players are known for being terrific midfielders or forwards and are great scorers. But what if there were players who didn't allow them to score?

The defense and goalie are known for a tough job but it all comes down to them as being the last line before an attempted score. It can be true that a team might not be known for their defense but the defense has to put up a fight. When I played soccer our captain was primarily a midfielder and a defender. The defender served as the leader of the back and ran the communication to line everyone up for corner kicks or situations defense was critical.

It can be understandable if some people only know certain players. If someone was to name a notable defender for the Spanish national team it is likely they would say, Pique. It is also possible to follow one team more specifically than others.

For instance, let's look at the France team that won the World Cup. RunRepeat brings into consideration how France has some of the most talented players on the team and mentions the value of each player. The research states how there are so many players from Paris playing in the World Cup that the players could make up a full team and coach. Many of the players from Paris play for the Paris Saint Germain soccer team which has become a very impressive team in the past few years.

The lineup is displayed including starters and substitutes and deep in the middle of the lineup are the two biggest soccer stars in France: Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe. Both happen to be a forward and a midfielder respectively. This raises the question Should certain positions be valued more than others? In a sense, it can be hard to determine. If you look at football the quarterback is typically going to be the highest paid followed by the supporting cast. In the case for soccer, it can appear that way too. Kylian Mbappe is valued at 120 million € despite only being 19 and Ronaldo just signed a contract with the Italian team Juventus worth 100 million €. Ronaldo is the captain of the Portuguese national team, scored over 300 goals while playing with Real Madrid and is also a forward. The trend of forwards shows that they can be viewed as the quarterback of the team or the field general.

I can't give a definite reason for why people are more familiar with a certain position in soccer. I played soccer and I was always biased to the midfielders and defenders. If it was up to me I would say they're the most important position. There isn't going to be one specific position but everyone will have a different idea. Soccer is a team sport and maybe we need to start learning more about the teams rather than just the best player.

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