Team.

As I drove home from a 9-2 soccer victory this evening, in which we won, I started thinking about my frustration over my performance in the game. Why the heck was I on edge? What was I frustrated about? Was it my own performance or my team’s? What could I have done better? I realized something about my career in soccer, and why it turned out the way it did.

I started playing at the age of 10. Almost instantly, my coaches and the team knew I was a natural. I tried out for select soccer when I was 13, and made one of the top clubs in the Seattle area. As our team progressed in years, so did our experience, level of play, and maturity on the field. We were the well-oiled machine most people wished they played for.

I was recruited to a wide variety of colleges, from Division 1 well-ranking schools, to Division 3 schools with amazing academics and locations. I fell in love with Gonzaga a Division 1 soccer program with potential, who played the best of the best in their league. I felt it was the right fit for my needs, both academically and in soccer. After two years of soccer however, I realized the balance of life as a student-athlete just wasn’t for me. I was suffering in many areas, but the most visible was my GPA. So, I gave up my scholarship, and focused on my classes the remaining two years.

As I look back on my soccer career, I have noticed something strange: I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.

Now, some of you who adored my playing may want to punch me right now. But honestly, I have to say, that my personal level of play had nothing to do with WHY I succeeded.

In my game tonight, I found myself crossing the ball in front of the goal… to empty space. I found myself making the PERFECT bending run, only to not receive the ball in time, and be called offsides. I passed the ball to a teammate, and tripped over my shoelace as I ran to receive it again on the other side of the defender, and then my teammate lost the ball.

In all these scenarios, I had a different vision in my head. I should have been crossing it to Shelby. I should have been receiving a long through ball from Shannon. When I tripped, Bekah and Jen should have been there to move forward with the ball and score. My select team, Emerald City, was GOOD. We knew how to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we cared more about our performance as a team than our own personal agenda. Politics can do crazy things off the field, but on the field we were a well-trained team who enjoyed the challenge. As rough as my teenage years were at times, I enjoyed and savored that level of play with my team because I knew I’d never get it back once it was gone.

I’m now convinced, if I had never played for Emerald City, that I may not have ever played college ball. I would have never seen the fruits of such hard work, because I may not have had a team to back me and make me look amazing. Kudos to all my coaches and assistant coaches throughout those years, who dealt with us “gifted and emotional” athletes, and who molded and shaped us to be the best!

So here I am today, assessing how I react to life situations, challenges, relationships, etc. And my conclusion is that on my own, I can’t really do anything. I’m not whole.

But with my team… well, you know the rest. Our teams in life may shift and change; some may move away and others join in. But when we work together, and take care of each other in our dark times AND in our victories, we can see success that would have never been possible alone.

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