Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Opening whistle

I assume that I'm like most former athletes who still crave the ball and can see the game play out properly in their head, but whose body has long since decided that the motions needed to perform that game are no longer possible. That's where I find myself at 38; older, slower, quicker to gasp for breath after a much shorter time. Nostalgic to enjoy the game the way that I did when I was a kid, teenager, and young adult. I also assume that I'm like other former athletes who long to stay connected to the game they love as long as feasibly possible in whatever capacity that they are able to do so. I'm still in love with a game that is becoming harder and harder to play, but it is not any less enjoyable. I just have to enjoy it differently.

So I watch from the sidelines more. I coach my daughter's team. I watch games on television, for all levels of play. From the NCAA College Cup to the World Cup and all divisions in between, I'll watch a game with you. Or by myself. With the increased availability of games on television, I could never watch all that is on nor do I have time to even watch all the games I want to see, but there is something about watching a game that is different for me than any other sporting event.

It puts me at ease. Like talking to an old friend you haven't seen in awhile. It eases my soul.

When I was younger, people would look at me and say that I must be a runner. That I had a runner's body. I would always respond, "No, I'm a soccer player." Soccer was only a portion of the activities that I did, but it was how I saw myself. Soccer was what defined me. It was where I was most happy. It was the epicenter of where my friendships started.

I can't look back through the years and tell you that the first time I picked up a ball I knew I would play it until the doctor told me that continuing to play competitively would mean surgery to repair an increasingly more painful knee. I can't recount every game I played. I can't tell you that I didn't divide my attention between other pursuits and that soccer was my only focus. I can't tell you that I was the best player on my team. I can't tell you that I ever realistically imagined myself playing professionally.

What I can tell you are the stories of memorable moments along the way. The moments within games that have lodged themselves into my memory banks and are the moments I cling to when I talk of my soccer career. I can tell you about the moments of sadness, the frustrations, the joy, and the moments that make me love this game.

I can tell you about what I think of the "beautiful game."

From my experiences as a player, to my new-found position of volunteer coach of my daughter's team, to my views as a season ticket holder for the newly formed Indy XI in the NASL, to whatever else I feel like talking about the game, this will be the place I'm going to document my thoughts. They may not always be great, well-worded thoughts, full of insight into the intricacies of the games, but it's going to be my way of helping me hold onto the game I love for as long as possible.

1 comment:

Julie Hanson said...

Awesome! I think it's pretty cool you still have such a love for the game. I may be biased in my enthusiasm for you as my husband watches the English premier league pretty religiously every Saturday morning - if he can't be home he records the game. Have fun posting ;-)