Column 12 – Part 1

Sometimes it comes in spurts!

Four weeks ago I thought I was going to write a column for the first time in a long while, and then figured I might not have something to say for a number of months. Turns out it was just the next week that I feel the voice stirring, and now, we are here…

Striving for a love of every detail of life

If you have ever watched a Simpson’s episode, I believe that my writing is very similar in structure. With that said and most of your not having a clue what I am talking about, let’s move on.

I was in the third grade and that is the first time I remember the amazing experience of wearing a pair of sweatpants. Their lack of resistance to outside air that makes your crotch feel like a wind tunnel. The little cotton pieces from a brand new pair that sticks in places that was formerly reserved only for sand, and then there’s the elastic, who doesn’t love elastic?

It had been another swarmy day at the two room school house in the country, where I received my pre-adolescent education. Just like any other day, I was watching the clock, but not because I was waiting to leave. My stomach felt like it was full of those striped tree worms, slithering anxiously all about.

The bus ride home was long, and I prayed that my mom had forgotten. But there she was, sitting in our onyx colored Buick that now had a dusting of oregano colored rust around the wheel wells and quarter panels. She had fruit snacks and crackers packed into the glove compartment because I wasn’t going to be eating dinner for awhile. The crackers tasted like chalk and the fruit snacks like an old truck tire. You’d think that I was going to have open heart surgery for how nervous I was. But oh no, it was much worse. For the first time in my life, I was going to play soccer and I was scared to death.

My parents had a sense of humor.

My parents had a compulsive affinity for signing my sister and me up for myriads of different activities. Kicking and screaming, I was convinced that anything my parents said was cool was obviously not, so you might say I was a little resistant to new experiences. Usually the conversation would go something like, “But I don’t want to do stupid ballet. Ballet is for girls….and I’m I boy!” Ok, so maybe not that last part, but they would always come back with, “You need to try new things, besides…. You don’t know what you want.”

After about five whole minutes of soccer practice, I realized that not only was soccer cool, but I knew that this is what I wanted to be when I grew up, a super leaguer soccer player. I mean, I’d been playing it for an hour and I loved it. What would it be like to play soccer all day, then come home and hang out with Raphael and Master Splinter and have pizza every night? (Dreams of sublime happiness are also a little strange at that age.)

I learned early on that one of the great things about soccer that there is not a lot of gear that is required to play. Shin guards, some shorts, a
soccer ball, and shoes. However, shoes were more crucial in soccer than any other piece of gear in any other sport. You were always on your feet, andnot having your footing possibly meant disaster, cost goals, lost games, or even worse could injure your body that would end your playing days for good.

My mom would take me (when I was still on their dollar) to get spikes, from my first pair to the many replacements. I learned early on how to
pick a quality shoe and how to know if they would last. Because she had lived with a family of three other under-sportsed girls, she had to define her own standard of quality in athletic shoes. But in the same right, I gave her plenty of practice for how many pairs of shoes I went through. It was usually by the end of a month of soccer, my shoes looked like Bill Murray, a lot older than they actually are and a ton of holes. I went through them like toilet paper and the store clerks practically knew us by name.

The shoe picking process

So not only did we get new shoes often, but my feet were freakishly big (at ten years old I would taunt my dad with my noticeably bigger canoes) Basically, I had a heck of a time finding shoes, but we still ran through this quality testing process;

1. Check the little tag on the tongue of the shoe, and make sure that they were real leather and not something fake. She believed leather lasted longer, but as time went on, we found that I still wore through them just as quick and all new shoes were synthetic.

2. Try the shoes on, both shoes. That meant taking them out of the box, threading the laces, and tying them up. Needless to say, there were a lot of lucky people who didn’t have to tie anything.

3. Stand up and my mom would press the toe to see how close I was to the end to make sure that I would have some room to grow.

4. Walk up and down the aisles, to see if the shoes would slide up and down my heels. I would squat to see if they would come off, and just do some small typical movements to see if I noticed any other glaring problems.

But in all of those times I went never once did I make the decision; instead, I put autopilot on. “My mom liked this” I told myself, and she would do it all for me. But this may have been a mistake. Having your parents make your decisions takes away from your life experience in good judgment. Little did I know that my disregard for my brand of shoes was a more important experience than I thought.

I continued to play right until I was in sixth grade and we moved from the Podunk town of St. Johns MI to Grand Haven MI. The move was a great plan God had for us. The Grand Haven team was immensely good and soccer is very competitive there.

I tried out and got to play on Strikers, the competitive traveling soccer team, and even then all of my free time I would practice my skill. I would come home and juggle, my best getting up to like a 119.

Three years later I was at that secondary age level and I can remember practicing all night the day before tryouts. Tryouts lasted all week, and I knew that this would be the first of a couple huge turning points in my life and what I was really meant to do. If I made the team in freshman year, it would be that much easier then trying to come on later and oust someone.

The end of the week brought the announcement of the team roster and the beginning of the next week started my life as a Grand Haven high school soccer player. I was so happy and continued to be for the next four years that I played through high school.

Continue to Part 2…..

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