Why I’m Happy I Grew Up In The Small City I Did

Why I’m Happy I Grew Up In The Small City I Did

Westbrook isn't only where I grew up as a kid, but its a place I continue to call home.

Westbrook, Maine is where I’m proud to call my home town. We all have our places to call home and we also have the many reasons why we do so. Westbrook is considered “home” to many people. Anyone who doesn’t live in Westbrook probably only know us from the smelly paper mill… But I mean who would forget that smell anyway? I’ve been raised here my whole 20 long years of life, and at the moment, I wouldn’t change it for the world. There are many reasons why someone calls their town their home, here are my reasons:

Little League Fields: From the age I could remember, probably eleven years old, I spent most of my summer and non-summer days at the fields as did many of the kids in the area. I played for at least two softball teams a year and even competed in tournaments where people came all from all over the state to compete in! How cool is that? As well as in 2005, a team won the Little League World Series on National TV! Something many cities can’t say they have done. I met many people here, gained a lot of good friendships; it was a my go to place growing up.

Together Days: Every year we all look forward to this weekend, but I mean who wouldn’t? Fair food, rides and games - it couldn’t get any better than this. This weekend would always start off with a parade from all the way back by the ice rink on Lincoln Street and move down to the Riverbank Park. Everything from fried dough, cotton candy, turkey legs, and root beer floats - we have it all here. Growing up I would count down the days until this week, it was two days of straight sun, hanging with friends, and thoughts of getting closer to summer!

Westbrook High School: Four years here and many memories to follow. Those walls heard more drama, seen more friendships come to an end, and cherished the memories that were made inside of it. Anyone who attended WHS knew everyone and anything. Anytime anyone would ask from a different area how many kids we had in our school we would say 400 something and they would look at us in shock and say “that’s how many kids I have in my class.” We were a small school. Many memories were made here; friday night football games, pep rallies, and awesome teachers. I wouldn’t of wanted to spend these four years of my life anywhere else.

These things are the ones that mean the most to me and I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone else from here when they were growing up, at least one of these would come to mind. This place is one of a kind. We know our city isn’t perfect, and there are some things that could change, but as for now this is where I call home and will continue to do so. Westbrook, Maine you have my heart.

Cover Image Credit: Google

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The Universal Love Of Soccer

Wrapped up in the beauty of a sport.

As a kid, I remember my parents signing me, along with my older siblings, up for a recreational soccer league. They enrolled us in a multitude of different activities as well, from dance to tennis to martial arts. But little did I know that I would later find myself coming back to soccer in my middle school years where I played for about two years on an Athena A travel league, and would later find myself in high school not being able to go a week without kicking or at least juggling the ball for a couple of minutes a day. Even though I no longer play for a competitive travel league and have instead picked up a passion for running, I still find myself loving the beauty behind the sport itself. If you’ve never played the sport before or are on the verge of giving it a try, these perks of the sport prove that soccer is the world's language for people of all ages and is mending the world's diversity through the love of one simple team sport.

1. Location is never an excuse.

When it comes to playing a game or just playing by yourself, you can pretty much find anywhere to kick. Other sports, like tennis, have to be played in its specific location -- on a tennis court -- and although some sports can technically be replicated in other areas, it’s not the most fitting as soccer is in just about any place. I remember being on vacation in Mexico one summer, and playing soccer with complete strangers who I’d never met before, on the beach, using random sticks we found to create markings for two goal posts and kicking barefoot on the sand. Whether it’s in the middle of the street in your neighborhood or at an actual soccer park, you can find pretty much anywhere to start a pickup game with anyone.

2. Accessibility

Whereas other sports require a ton of equipment, soccer is beautiful in its simplicity. Although some sports, such as football also follow this “simplicity rule” of just needing a ball and you’re good, the majority of other sports don’t carry the same way. For example, in volleyball, it’s difficult to play the sport without a net, which is unlikely to be randomly carrying around, or in basketball without a hoop. Soccer is one of the simplest sports to play, with only truly requiring one piece of equipment, a ball, if you just want to pass with other people or train by yourself.

3. Learnability

Whereas many sports ential complicated rules, soccer is universally much easier to understand how to play. Because there aren’t constricting positions in a pickup game, anyone can shoot or defend at any time or have fun doing anything in between. Other sports, such as football or basketball, that have more rules than soccer make the game harder to learn for anyone, whether they’re little kids or adults. Soccer isn’t a sport that requires for all players to be able to speak the same language either -- body language is key in the sport, to communicate with other players on a simpler and universal basis.

4. Weather permitting

The aspect I probably love most about soccer is that it can be played just about anywhere. Whether it’s an indoor league, outside on a hot summer day or in the pouring rain on muddy grass, the sport is always enjoyable in just about any circumstance. Because many parks are switching from grass to turf fields, this makes it much easier to play on a reliably flat surface, whereas other sports, such as tennis require a non-rainy day.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Why It's Still Great To Be a Georgia Bulldog

Last Monday was rough.

Yeah. So that happened.

It felt like the entire season was a dream. An incredible takeover in South Bend and a win over Notre Dame. Shutting out Tennessee. A loss to Auburn, and then a revenge win and an SEC Championship title. A stress-inducing win in double overtime at the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma.

A national championship game against Alabama. A nail-biting overtime. And then...

It's over. Just like that.

It can be hard with football to grasp the suddenness of the moment, the finality of a game-winning touchdown or a crucial missed call. There's no going back; the final score is the final score, the winner is the winner, and the losing team is left to pick up the pieces. For the fans of the team that comes up short, more specifically Georgia fans, a loss like the one we all experienced Monday night can feel like someone has ripped our hearts out. Because that's our team down on that field, on that screen, and when they hurt, we hurt, too. With a loss like this, it's easy to lose hope in not just our football team, but our university.

However, even though I and the rest of Bulldog Nation was seriously hurting during that game, I came to realize a few things about my school.

We are so positive all the time and it truly inspires me. Yes, it felt like the energy was sucked out of Athens the moment the game ended, but the day after, we still welcomed our team home with crowds of hundreds of fans and posters saying, "Still Proud!" At this institution, even if you come up short, even if you fail, it's okay. It's a part of the process: a building block, if you will. Find another solution. Find another way.

It feels like a family in Athens, Georgia. Even cheering for our dawgs in the National Championship felt like I was cheering for my local high school football team: there's a small town feel to this school and you can definitely sense it. So when we lost, we felt the loss collectively.

Finally, I realized that I never want to be at any other school other than the University of Georgia. Say what you will about our loss being in "typical Georgia" fashion, but there is a special air about this place that screams anything but "losers". It screams success and drive. It screams passion. Most importantly, it screams love.

So yeah, Monday sucked. But it is an incredible time to be a Georgia Bulldog.

Cover Image Credit: StadiumDB

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