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Column 12 – Part 2

Striving for a love of every detail of life continued……

Dreams never die

The childhood dream surged back into my mind, and I knew the next step was playing in college. At the University of Michigan I made the team as a walk on my freshman year, and believe it or not, played all through college as well. But again, because I stayed so close to home to go to school, I was still able to use my mom to help me pick out the best spikes to wear.

After college, because of my stamina, intensity, and accuracy in my shots, I had drawn interest from professional teams and I signed with a new professional team in Indianapolis. It was all falling into place. The first thing on my mind was, “I need a pair of shoes to play professional soccer and these worn old pair won’t cut it.”

The first new pair of shoes I bought for pros out of college was with the money I was planning to use to eat that week. I didn’t know for myself exactly what the most important aspect of the shoes was, and I didn’t have extra cash to toss around. Plus, time was money and the first game was the next day, so I was not able to sit on my decision and think things through rationally.

I found a pair of shoes that seemed like they “would do”. The sale price was perfect, but they were far from my dream shoe. When I tried them on they seemed a little tight, with little room to breath. But since they were selling out inventory and they only had select sizes, I decided to get them.

Although they helped me play the game, this new pair of shoes didn’t let me utilize all my skills. They were stiff and I developed blisters on my heels so I couldn’t pivot as quickly. My output suffered as a result, but, I worked through them, because it was my decision to buy them and I had to take what I had and make the best of it. In my mind I started to set my standards much higher to prevent a repeat the next time.

Eventually, nine months later, I figured it was time for a new pair. I didn’t throw the first pair out because I could still use them, besides, I didn’t have the money to be so wasteful.

Learning from my mistakes, or so I thought

Time to take another dip in the shoe pool. I went a couple months ahead of time to start looking before I knew the old ones would wear out. I had a little more money and a few less bills, so there wasn’t as much pressure. But the first season of pro soccer was spent mostly on the bench after my lack luster performance, and I knew that this could be my last year if I didn’t get a good pair.

I found lots of different shoes that were on sale, but I rarely bothered to waste my time, instead looking at the ones that fit me. I needed room to move around and lots of padding to stay comfortable throughout the season. I looked for awhile, gave some shoes a test run, and finally chose a pair that although not a dream, were definitely better then the first pair.

These weren’t on sale, which was fine. Sometimes the quality reflects the price and sometimes it doesn’t. I wore the shoes for two months, and then one day during the game, right at a crucial moment, the shoe exploded. It just fell apart, the sole came off, the left side tore open, and all I had left was a foot that looked like a peeled banana. Only later I found that with a little more time in research would I have learned that the shoe had a history of being unreliable at best.

I had to go back to the store very suddenly. I hadn’t planned on going back for a long time, and this was extremely jarring for me. I thought I had made the right decision last time. I hadn’t settled, but I didn’t hold out for the dream shoe when it might not exist, and even more importantly, when I didn’t know exactly what it was that I wanted. But still, I thought I had picked a good shoe, and I felt scared about my judgment.

Why is it happening to everyone else but me?

To complicate things, it seemed all of my teammates from college were so successful on the other teams they played for. They had played for a couple of years straight with the same shoes, or had successive pairs of shoes that were great. I felt left out, like my life was worth less than theirs, and although I knew I was just as good if not better because my playing skills were so much more diverse, I had nothing to show for it.

Strange enough, at a store the same day that I had my on field explosion, I found a pair of shoes I really liked. Immediately, I walked away, waiting as I researched a little more. I called the manufacturer to find the history of the shoe, the idea behind the design, and the materials that were in it. I asked others who wore the shoe; I went to the plant to see them made. I wanted to make sure that I made the best decision about one of the most important things in my life.

I wasn’t going to settle anymore, I was emotionally tired. Even though I needed to have a good pair to play, it came down to the fact that I felt I had exhausted my research, and now all that was left was to trust that my decision was right and the shoes would last.

From what I can tell so far, from what my parents have taught me, they are a perfect fit. I can maneuver anywhere I need; they have an inch so my feet could grow forever and still have enough room. They aren’t tight so I can move but at the same time hold me tight enough to give me the best possible performance I could ask for.

Now that I have them, I think I appreciate them that much more because I had two other pairs of terrible shoes. I didn’t make the right decision out of the gate, but I did learn, and maybe that was my destiny. Granted, it has only been seven weeks now since I have had the shoes, and it is too early to really judge if they will last for a long time, and if they will continue to be great or if that is just because they are new.

To pause from looking behind my back..

All I know is that when I get home from the game, and I see the amazing things I did, I well up and want nothing more to cry. Everyday on my car ride home from practice I thank God. I smile from ear to ear, to know what it is like for my friends, what it is like to perform as best as I can, and to know what it is like to be happy all the time and wake up in the morning wanting to live life.

Settling was a bigger mistake then I could have ever dreamed. I had nothing to compare to know what good really is. The key is to not make a rash decision if the opportunity has been given you to choose. Sometimes you have no choice, you have to take the cheapest pair, but my parents gave me the opportunity to have better and therefore perform better.

The duh factor.

I reality, I stopped playing soccer in the seventh grade. Most of you know me well enough now through these columns to know that I write in the most extreme of situations. I have written about sadness, pain, anxiety of the future, and introspection. This may be the first time I am writing about true and utter happiness, and I ask that you pray for me so that it lasts, and that it really isn’t too good to be true to finally have it happening to me.

I know God, and I am not stupid. I don’t understand why I had two bad pairs of shoes that didn’t fit before my new great pair of shoes. But I will not be angry with what was, but elated over what can be. With arms wide open, opportunity has been given to me and once again I remember that God truly is great and he will bless his children.

~final

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