Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Soccer Life - David Eaton

Photo credit
This edition of The Soccer Life is about one of my earliest friends. David's family lived just around the corner from mine. His brother is my age and we played soccer together. My brother and David were a year apart in age, but they played soccer together. As a result, the four of us did a lot of activities together. There were countless times through the years when the four of us were playing pickup games together of soccer, basketball, football, tennis, roller hockey, etc. David was the youngest of the group, but was unafraid to mix it up with us regardless of the sport. He readily admits below that his soccer career was not spectacular, but David's fearlessness when it came to the sports we all played together seems to have translated to the rest of his life. David participated in the Little 500 three times while at Indiana University, biked around Spain (Camino de Santiago), drove the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile around the western portion of the country for a year in 2001-2002, has completed a half Ironman, and was a middle school Spanish teacher for awhile. If that's not enough unique experiences in a lifetime (and he's only in his mid-30s, David also served in Iraq as a MEDEVAC pilot flying Blackhawk helicopters and is currently a Major, serving as Operations Officer for the 38th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Indiana National Guard. So while he admits that soccer isn't a major piece of his life now, I thought I could use this forum/medium as it relates to his connection with soccer to shine some light on someone who helps protect the freedoms we enjoy. Thanks for participating in the survey David! 

1. Name:
David Eaton

2. Role (Player, Parent, Coach, Referee, General Spectator, All of the Above, None of the Above, Other):
- Player

3. Soccer-specific Nickname (and any story behind it):
  Gibby – I think they needed someone to pick on that day, and I drew the short straw. believe it was [Coach] Scanlon that thought I looked like Gilbert from "Leave it To Beaver." I will leave it for the jury.
Editor's note: Sorry David, but there's enough of a resemblance to see why you got that name. I was also able to find in an old yearbook that Gibby Eaton was part of the Spanish Club and he looked a great deal like you. Did you give that name as a joke or did somebody in the yearbook committee know your nickname?

4. Age started playing:
- Probably 6 or 8

5. First recollection of the game:
- I took a picture on picture day while on the orange team with the Suburban West Optimist Club League with shin guards over sweat pants and the sweat pants pulled up to my chin.  Who let me leave the house like that?

6. Highest level of play achieved:
- Varsity HS

7. Last competitive match – Date (if known) & Level of Play
- Probably Fall of 19961997 in a first round sectional.
Editor's note: Dave thought it was 1996, but I was able to determine that it was a 1-3 loss in the 1997 Indiana High School Sectionals.

8. Position:
- Oh about anywhere.  Lots of goalie then some defense after my hand injury.

9. Jersey number:
- Whatever they gave.

10. Most memorable moment(s):
- Actually getting Varsity time after nearly 5 years of practice, JV, and more practice.  Eventually your number will be called.

11. Least memorable moment(s):
- Breaking my finger from an arrant kick when playing goalie.  It is still crooked today.  It still hasn't straightened itself out.  In a close second... the time we lost an indoor game 22-0.

12. Favorite team:
- Anyone we had a chance to beat.

David meeting Lauren Holiday at the
2015 Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard
13. Favorite player:
- Historical: Tony Meola...he tried to make it in the NFL
Editor's note: For the Pete Carroll-led Jets, to be specific. Nicknamed "Captain Hook" by teammates, he had five preseason kickoffs, only one of which made it to the endzone, and his NFL career ended after 3 preseason games.

- Current: I don't follow it any more.

14. Indoor vs Outdoor:
- Either is fine...I do remember many late nights for open play at Indy Indoor at 21st and High School Road.

15. Grass vs Turf:
- Good grass... not that lumpy grass clusters we had on the JV field.  You need a good, generally smooth, field.
Editor's note: This is a reoccurring theme for my high school teammates. We did not have good fields back then...

16. Coaching experience:
- I almost coached U6 this year for my daughter, but I didn't raise my hand quick enough.

17. Refereeing experience:
- Some intramural or travel league out at 10 street in is a thankless job.

18. Favorite World Cup moment(s):
- When it came to the states in 1994.

19. Honors/Awards:
- My greatest soccer award actually came from the classroom...Academic All Star or something like that [All State actually].  I was not the fleet footed magician.  If I had to make a livin' off my soccer skills, I would have gone hungry a long time ago.
Editor's note: If I recall correctly, all the Thompson and Eaton boys won this award. David's older brother got the award the same year that I did and my brother got it sometime in between. We were all the true definition of student-athletes, with arguably a heavier emphasis on the "student" part, despite all of us being varsity lettermen.

20. Other sports played (and to what level):
- College Intramural soccer, JV Swimming
Editor's note: I found out about David's foray into competition swimming from my brother and I thought David was crazy. Up to that point, I couldn't remember David ever participating in competitive swimming. Yet, he decided that was what he wanted to do, and did it. Like I said, his fearlessness and ability to tackle new challenges seems to have been a reoccurring theme in his life. It's really quite impressive.

21. Other Comments:
- Looking back I always thought I wanted to play baseball because I hated running and there is not much running in baseball.  How the heck did I end up with so many hours on the soccer field?  Who would have thought that 20 years later I enjoy endurance running and cycling?  I do attribute soccer as the activity that planted a seed in me to lead an active life style today.

1 comment:

Don said...

My coaching career was about as long and successful as all of your soccer careers, but David was the best keeper I ever coached. He had the brains and the fearlessness. I never understood how someone so bright could willingly put themselves in a such a vulnerable position.

Thanks for your service to our country David.