Aside from various church and YMCA leagues, I first joined my school’s soccer team during my 8th grade year. I went to a small Christian school called Evangel Christian, home of the Chargers (a big, muscular horse of sorts) in Lakeland, FL. I was on the JV team and was a subpar defender. The good players found their way around me scoring with regular frequency. Our team won only one game that year-a forfeit because our opponents had already clinched the district championship. I didn’t move up to varsity the next year, and the program was defunct the following year. After years of youth soccer I didn’t have one goal on my stat sheet.
10th and 11th grade passed and I tried my hand at a bouquet of sports including football, wrestling, baseball and track; yet I always missed soccer and was a bit disheartened that I had never scored a goal. My senior year came and I hadn’t planned on playing any sports that year, or at least any of the sports the school had to offer. However, about a month into the school year one of my fellow classmates named Ty approached me and asked if I’d be willing to join a soccer team if he could get the school to sponsor one. I reluctantly agreed to join harboring doubts that he could get anything started on such short notice. Nevertheless, Ty prevailed after bugging the principle for some basic funds, and getting a football coach to coach us, thus I was committed to playing soccer that 2006 season.
The team consisted of a ragtag group of soccer fans who could tell you all of the ins-and-outs of the game, yet couldn’t run a mile without being winded. We weren’t part of any district, but just an at-large team who scheduled games with anyone needing an opponent. We only played three games that year, and proceeded to lose all three. Nonetheless, all of us found solace after school scrimmaging each other and creating our own heroic moments on the field among each other.
We were blown out the first game. I was a defender and the good players sliced through my defensive efforts. We lost 1-0 in our next game to a school of the deaf. Our last game came in early December-the home opener and finale. The game was competitive as the two teams were well matched. I thwarted all attempts to score on my side of the field, but in the closing moments of the game we found ourselves down 3-1. With under 2:00 minutes left I aired the ball down the middle from midfield intending for someone to help find its way in. The last defender on the opposing team leaped and tried to head it out of the way, but barely missed. The goalie was caught off guard as the ball slowly crept by him into the goal. All twenty-plus fans went bonkers, and my team tackled me on the center logo. We went on to lose 3-2.
A lot of memorable feats were accomplished during my senior year of high school. I received good marks on my ACTs, I was accepted into a good school with most of my tuition paid for and I graduated high school with honors. There was one accolade though that was especially satisfying-my 2006 stat sheet for soccer, which read as the following:
1 Goal, 0 Assists