learning through set backs

They say to enjoy each memory, moment, minute like it might be your last. Whoever said that is so true, but at the same time so unrealistic. It’s hard to live in that manner. It’s hard to constantly live in the moment and not think to the future. One day, you’re 4 and the whole crowd is cheering when you finally touch that scary thing they call a soccer ball, the next second you’re in your senior year of college soccer.

For me though, my “soccer career” ended before I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on the team. I’m still playing. I’m still fighting. I’m still pouring my time and efforts into this sport I’ve come to love, but in all honesty, my soccer career has not gone how I once planned.

While I thought I had been preparing and planning for a season where I would possibly not see the field, I realized you can’t prepare for that. Upon arriving at my last preseason, I wasn’t sure what my body would allow me to do. I was nervous for the fitness tests, but at the same time, I had no pressure. Honestly, I short-handed myself and really didn’t believe I would pass one fitness test. However, that first Monday, Annie and I set ourselves a goal. We would run 2 of the 120’s in the correct time – and we did. We even finished the 120’s in a faster time than I thought possible, and we beat some people as well. A spark was formed.

The next day was the beep test. During the summer, before I had to quit running, I’d only made it to 880m. I needed to reach 1350m. Each down and back, I became more confident. I was going to pass this test. I not only made the distance, but I ran past it. The coals began to heat up.

Those first 2 weeks, I pushed my body farther than I thought I could go. I was playing pretty well, and hope was being ignited. I had realistic expectations. I knew I wouldn’t be playing as much as I had previous years, but I thought I would see the field. Running the 300s in the second week, I really wasn’t sure if I could make it. But I did. My legs were shaking by the end and I had to sit down, but I’d gone to a place I didn’t think I could go. During our first game, I was given the opportunity to relieve one of the forwards and play. This began to spark a fire. Maybe I truly would get to see the field some this year. However, last Saturday, reality sunk in. All my goals on the field, all my aspirations, they will not come true.

Going into my Sophomore year, I was playing some of my best soccer and more fit than I’d even been in my life. I wanted it. I wanted to be a starter. Ever since that year, I put in countless time and effort into PT. I put the work in hoping to see the reward, but what I’ve come to realize is sometimes we don’t get to see the reward. Sometimes, we have to just keep are nose down and keep chugging along. Sometimes, plain and simply, LIFE ISN’T FAIR. I will never have that season I dreamed of. I will never have that season I worked for, but maybe my team will.

My word for this year was servant-leadership. When I chose it, I assumed I would be on the sidelines hardly being able to participate. I didn’t fully comprehend how difficult servant-leadership was going to be this year. I’m okay. I’m about the team. I’m so excited for the girls we have and the places I know we can go. However, that doesn’t make anything any easier. THIS SUCKS. Nothing can change how much this sucks. My body has held me back, and it’s not fair.

When I sit down and think about my personal soccer career I just cry. Nobody wants to start out at the peak and dwindle down. I found my most personal success in my first two years of college soccer. I wanted to keep rising from there, but my career as I knew it is gone, and that’s hard. I wish I had enjoyed my first two years more. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to just play the game and not worry about making mistakes. I wish I could take away all the nerves, the fear, the worrying about playing time or messing up and just enjoy the game. I just have a deep sadness. It’s hard to see a time in your life at an end.

And at the same time, it’s hard to have always felt overlooked. I feel like some people just walk in the light. Not really, but kind of. Sometimes it just feels like my 4 years have been a collection of almosts and why not me’s? However, I’m learning a lot recently about how selfish that mindset is. I’ve been really selfish, and sometimes I honestly have an inflated version of myself. Yes, there are times when I truly do think I was overlooked, but in all reality, my mind has been way too focused on myself and success. Recently, our team was given a great devotional on what it means to have an “I am Third” mindset and to play/live fearlessly. Honestly, before, I was tired of hearing the “I am Third” mantra. Okay, we get it, the basketball team says they’re third – they put God and others first. But when we truly forget about ourselves and just work for the team – work to make each other better; work for a common goal – the possibilities are endless. By having that mindset, we eliminate any selfishness, pride, or drama that will ensue during the season. Instead, we bring our all everyday and put in the work not for ourselves, not for our best friends, not for our coaches, but for the whole team – for the program – for the common goal – for God’s glory. That’s an unstoppable force.

So, no matter what, if I’m just a practice player this year, I will practice the “I am Third” lifestyle and do work for my team. I will make us better, and I will not complain. When I feel like I’m getting overlooked, I will keep pushing and have a humble spirit.

Once reality set in, I felt like honestly some people didn’t believe in me. I felt like they had already written me off as injured and not of use on the field before I’d even stepped into preseason. Well, I’m gonna prove them wrong. Day in and day out, I’m going to work hard, stand out, and take risks, because I have nothing to lose. I will make them believe in me. And, even if it doesn’t end the way I would hope, I will take pride in knowing that 1) I gave my all and didn’t give up and 2) I made my team better.

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