To soccer, the sport I give little to no credit too….
Let me start off by giving you my absolute, most sincere apology. I know for a long time we’ve shared a love/hate relationship, a lot of which was me throwing hate your way. We shared a loving bond as I grew up, you gave me the best memories traveling around the country and making new friends. The best times of my adolescence were spent with a ball at my feet, running around in the sun (except for that time you gave me skin cancer, which wasn’t fun at all). I loved every second I got to go to soccer practice and craved the feeling of competing and winning games. I looked forward to the secret handshakes with my teammates and the jokes we’d have when one of us fell on our face or inevitably lost the ball. You gave me an undeniable drive to succeed and because of that, I accomplished a childhood dream in playing Division 1 college soccer.
Thats right about when things started to get “complicated.” I like to think that around college, we really started what I call a “long distance relationship.” I held tight to the fond memories of casually showing up to practice and just naturally being a good player, but boy, did you teach me lessons in college. With the demanding schedule of a student-athlete, a grueling coach on my back, and girls all competing for the same thing- I began to resent you. You weren’t the fun, childhood best friend I once knew. You became a bully and everything I never wanted in my own college experience. When my 4 years were up, I couldn’t wait to hang up those cleats. Then you went and did the worst thing possible, just in your way. You took my sister, giving her an injury she’s yet to overcome (6 years later) and taking away my chance of finishing my college career playing along side my best friend and sister. I felt the grip you had ever so tightly on me and you won. I chose to stay and play my 5th year of eligibilty so that she could have surgery and rehab and be back in time to finish my career out with me.
What a devilish trick that was. I left my 5th and final season with the biggest grudge against you and never looked back. After 20 years, I was free from you-able to live my life as a normal human being, actually eating a lunch that consisted of more than an energy bar and gatorade between classes that I was always late for, I was able to workout on my own schedule (and never ever having to bench press jackshh**t ever again), I had FREE TIME on the weekends and was able to socialize in an acceptable manner. It was amazing and while some of my teammates struggled with finding their identity without soccer, I flourished. I’d never felt more myself, my life felt lighter and stress-free without the constant roller-coaster of a relationship that we shared.
Having said all that, here I am, looking back and realizing I owe you the biggest apology. For as much as we fought, and all the pain you caused me, you gave me more than I could ever be mad at you for. I’m staring my soulmate in the eyes, realizing that had we not both chosen to play college soccer for California State University Northridge, we may have never met. I’m surrounded by the most amazing lifelong friends because of you, having all met because of college sports. We met as teammates and have grown into life-mates. So soccer, this is my apology. I suppose I will thank you for teaching me the best life lessons (though not always easy), for giving me the most loyal/best friends, and ultimately, for giving me MY GORGEOUS ASS HUSBAND.
I hope one day my children will share an equally special relationship with you and I look forward to the day they’ll play in their very first game.
All in all, soccer, I owe ya one. Go ahead and drop the mic.