In my family, my siblings and I could kick a ball as soon as we could walk. We grew up on the pitch, whether it be five minutes away from our childhood home, or hours away in Arizona. Soccer was our whole life, my whole life especially. It seemed to me like soccer was my thing. I tried sports like basketball and skiing, but nothing was more exciting than watching soccer season approach every year for fifteen years. I had dreams of growing up to play on the US Women's National team, just like every other little girl who played soccer. I had my fair share of uniforms from past teams and memories made with longtime teammates that will last for ages. But soon my love for playing started to shrink.
Don't get me wrong, I still get excited thinking of the times I would sprint up the field with the ball, make plays for my teammates, and score goals. It's an excitement I hopefully won't forget anytime soon. I still love the game. I don't quite understand it myself, but I just feel done with the sport. I want to experience other dreams I've had, like career plans.
Heck, I wish I could answer that. It's always easy to blame the coach or the teammates, but it isn't them at all. They could be a small factor of why, but they'll never be the ones to blame. That's the thing, everyone wants to know who to blame in a situation like this, but is it possible there isn't anyone or anything to blame? I, on the other hand, blame myself. I wish there wasn't anything to blame, but I blame myself for being too weak. But how can I not? I've never experienced quitting. I grew up in a household where there were no quitters. If I didn't like a sport mid-season, quitting wasn't an option no matter how bad it got. Even when I tried quitting from the family business, I still couldn't (because my mom made the schedule so it was either show up for your shift or suffer the inevitable doom she had planned for you). That mindset is what caused a big surprise for me this year.
The season had just ended this fall, and I already dreaded being on that team all season. There was something about playing college soccer that just felt wrong to me. I knew it was going to be a different experience from my club and high school seasons, but for some reason, it felt worse than I expected. I dreaded going to practices, and game days just felt off to me. I wasn't excited to play at all. I talked of quitting to my teammates and captains multiple times in the year, but I stuck with it till the end even with my multiple injuries. Injuries are such an easy way to quit in good terms, but I wasn't going to quit on my teammates, especially because we were already low in numbers. I counted the days until the season was over. After we got off the bus one last time, I was so excited, so happy. I finally had a break. I wanted to go party that night and the next day, but thank god I didn't or else that practice would have sucked. Yeah, we had training the following Monday, and that was when I realized I was still stuck, and I had to be miserable longer. I didn't train with the team for the next couple weeks because I had sustained a concussion, but after coming back from a relaxing trip with my mother and sister, I had a clear mind of what I wanted and it wasn't to be on that team anymore. I really just didn't want to commit my time to it.
Like I said before, it's always easy to blame the coach, and right now I want to so bad but I know he isn't the problem. He may have been the toughest coach I've ever had, but he was damn good at teaching me new skills. I can't blame him at all, especially when he somehow made me into a defender from a lifelong attacking player. He taught me things no other coach has ever taught. Let me say that louder for the people in the back: HE TAUGHT ME, AND HE TAUGHT ME WELL. Yes he was a hard coach to play for as well, and maybe he didn't have the best time management and the best things to say to his female players, but he sure as heck knew what he was talking about when it came to soccer.
So yes, I know I can't say he's the reason why I quit. I want to guilt myself in saying that I was my reason to quit because I'm lazy and I didn't want to commit my time to it anymore, and that is a big part of the case. I'd say the biggest reason was that I was finally just burnt out. It's way harder than you think to commit so much time to a sport for fifteen years. I am mentally drained of playing that sport for so long, no matter how much I love it. I want to experience new things, like a year without soccer and then see where that takes me mentally. Hopefully I can get to those things on my bucket list soon, because for now I'll just be trying to overcome my quitter's guilt and finishing my teaching degree.
So if you're reading this and you're mentally drained, please remember that ball is not always life. It may be a big part of what makes you you, but it will never be the whole reason. You are unique in your own way and there are other ways to show it besides giving all your time to sports. If you love doing it, then go for it and play your heart out. Soccer will only be a chapter in your life, not the whole book.