Soccer was my first love. I remind my husband of that.
When I was 12 I joined the soccer team at school because all of my friends were going to do it. Then I stuck around, as I realized I loved it.
The feeling of running and kicking a ball. The joy of connecting a pass or a shot. The elation of a high corner kick. The people cheering for you when you do well. I loved it all.
And of course, you get to wear uniforms!
My high school team was made of different friends. We were friends because we had a common goal. We didn’t hang out together outside of school. But we played soccer together.
I played a year in college. And that coach alienated me. So I left. For a boy. At another college. Who left me.
But after moving on and adulting, I found my first love again. First with an indoor team that needed a player to sub sometimes. Then on various summer leagues. I was always good, never great. I never developed the accuracy needed for striking the ball. But I loved it. Every second.
Winter indoor. Summer sweat. Fall watching the local colleges. It always got me cheering and yelling; a pure, childlike joy.
When I moved to Vermont, I found more opportunities to play. My skills grew. It wasn’t all joyful- there is an elitist attitude that some leagues have. I always played to improve, to have fun. Not everyone plays for that. Many play to be the best and that alone matters.
So you have to be careful. When you stop growing due to others, it’s time to find a new scene. And the scene I found was right near home. We have a local crew who love to play. We play five on five or four on four, with small nets and a wide field. People of all ages and talents. People who love to compete and run. People who love to laugh. Adults who play for the joy if it. When people laugh, and cheer for each other while still competing, magic can happen. You can improve. And you can love the game even more. And you can sit afterward in a group, and admire the sunset.
And that my friends, can save your life.
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