So Long Soccer

With two minutes left in the half, I’m sprinting down the field with the ball at my feet. As I approach the goal the defender comes at me, I go to make a turn around her. When I plant my foot, my leg doesn’t turn with me, just my knee. Next thing I know I’m lying on the ground not able to move my knee or my entire leg.

This was the day I tore my ACL. Soccer was my life. Just like I work every day and minute of the week now, that used to be when I played soccer. Soccer took over my life ever since I was little.

I played travel soccer, rec soccer, and school soccer. My days would be filled with practice and games for all 3 teams. Even though I played all the time, I loved it. I loved nothing more than playing soccer and being the best I could. If aced many injuries while playing soccer but tearing my ACL was my biggest setback.

When I was in the 7th grade, I played JV soccer, that’s technically two years higher than the normal 7th grader. During that year, I was moved up to varsity for an important game against one of the best teams in the section, Washingtonville. I remember calling my parents as I walked out to the field to let them know I wouldn’t be playing on my normal field. They were a little scared to let me play for varsity. Everyone was twice my size and about 6 years older than me. But they also thought I wouldn’t really get much playing time that game and I would kind of just be an extra body on the bench.

Ha, nope I played about 80% of that game, maybe a little more. I showed off my skills and proved to everyone that I belonged on that level of playing. Of course I got punched in the eye, causing me to get the worst black eye ever and that’s why I didn’t finish playing the game. But it was worth it, I showed the varsity coaches that I really belonged on that skill level. Unfortunately, the rules of the Section 9 district, restricted anyone from playing on varsity level for soccer for more than 5 years. That is why I was only allowed to be pulled up for a game my 7th grade year.

But once 8th grade came around, I was a full time starter on the varsity soccer team. This meant everything to me. All the weekends of giving up hanging out with friends to practice nonstop. Or leaving the on holidays to go play in a tournament. I finally made it. That year I scored many goals but I didn’t score the most goals. Of course that wouldn’t stop me from trying harder next season.

Seasons never really ended for me though, I was still playing travel soccer during all of this. Some nights I would go from school practice to travel practice or even a game. On the weekends I had to sometimes skip school practice to play in a tournament in New Jersey for travel soccer. I always thought I would play soccer in college, but as I got older, that slowly changed.

I started to fall short of my love for soccer. I’m not sure if it was having the same coaches year after year that got in my head. Or maybe it was my teammates, maybe I felt they weren’t always at my best interest to help me play to the best of my ability. Or maybe I really did just over play it to the point where I didn’t love it anymore.

I still played every year in high school. 10th, 11th, and 12th grade I was offensive player of the year scoring the most goals every season. 10th grade I had a major concussion from travel soccer. It was the day after Thanksgiving we had practice early that morning around 9am and then we were on the road to Long Island to play a tournament that night and all weekend long.

It was in that tournament that I went up against the goalie for the ball. As I approached the goalie she picked up the ball from me, pushed me down hitting my head then pretended to kick the ball but went for my head instead. As usual the refs didn’t call a penalty because “goalies can’t do anything wrong.” It was the worst, after she kicked my head I blacked out for about 30 seconds and got up, when I got up everything was spinning. I couldn’t see straight nor could I even walk straight. The refs wouldn’t call a time out, they said I was fine and nothing happened and continued to let the game carry on. From there I laid on the ground as my teammates begged the refs to stop the game. Next thing I know I’m on my way from the game, having literally no idea what’s going on.

About a week later when I was able to get an MRI and meet with the concussion doctor, he told me I would be out for about 6 full months. I wasn’t allowed to leave my bedroom for a week straight, no TV, no phone, no music, nothing at all. I went to school the next week, but the doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to take notes, do any type of school work, test, homework, nothing for 10 straight weeks. It was difficult going to school every day with a pounding headache and then eventually having to do school work again but twice the amount of work because everything I missed.

Around came the end of the school year, I was back playing soccer. It wasn’t was the same, I wasn’t as fast or accurate. I had to wear a head brace to prevent future concussions. But by the end of the summer I could officially say I was back into the grove of doing what I do best, scoring goals.

11th grade was starting and we were only two weeks into playing games for school. This is when I tore my ACL. This is when I stopped playing travel soccer because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play again until almost August of the next year which wouldn’t have helped. All the offers from schools wouldn’t have been long gone. Travel soccer gets you college looks your junior year so senior year is a breeze. You could say I ruined it for myself, but I’m happy where I’m at now.

I like working all the time and going to college a few days a week. I still played soccer my senior year of high school. I made it a fun year, I still came out on top, but my goal that year was to have fun and not care as much as I did before. With that I ended my soccer years and moved onto my next stage in life. I still love soccer and everything about it. I wouldn’t have traded those long years of training for anything.