One Injury Can Mean a Lifetime of Changes
Soccer fields everywhere in the middle of April in Kansas City, soccer teams scattered across the 15 acre complex, including my team and our opponents. Both teams walked on to the field, looking official in solid colored uniforms, same socks and each team had the same ponytail. We were ready to play. One team in all black and one team in royal blue, warming up with organized passing and shooting drills.[a] Warm-ups had ended, and all of the players were introduced, the referee, and two side line referees; this meant game time. I began to double knot the laces on my cleats, put my game jersey on and sprayed my goalie gloves with water for the last time before the whistle blew and the ball dropped. We took our positions on the field and the referee dropped the ball as the whistle blew with a high pitch tone.
The game had begun. Three minutes into the game, the Missouri team, wearing royal blue took their first shot. I took a wide step to the right, jumped, dived and caught the ball from the upper corner of the net. Ball in hand, I got out of the muddy pit I was sprawled out in, jogged to the top of the eighteen box, stepped, and punted the ball passed the half line. I realized this was going to be a game to remember. My team was going up the field, running and leaping, as one of my teammates took a shot and the ball was floated in. We were up 1-0 in the first 5 minutes. The fans cheered, clapped, screamed and booed as I attempted to congratulate my team. [b]
I felt a rush of adrenaline [c]as the first restart of the game took place. The other team passed the ball, dribbled it and kicked it around as if they were playing against second graders. The ball started to spin faster, it was turning darker as the mud began to cover it. Missouri ran and leaped around us like they were ballerinas on a stage. My team reacted and found a drive to snatch the ball away from the other players' light feet.
Overtaken by excitement, I screamed, "keep it up girls! We got the next one!"
We passed and dribbled our way down to the other side of the field, out of our end. One of our players shot the ball and tripped. The ball was in the net! It was a goal! Eight minutes in, we were up 2-0.
My face switched from a tint of tan to bright cherry red as I used all my breath to yell, "We are doing awesome!”
The second kickoff of the game, and they dribbled and passed around our team, light on their feet as we were diving in and tackling every pass and touch, missing every tackle and dive, they shot the ball. It spun faster, and my view became more and more unclear, coming in fast as I tried to focus on the ending point more than the speed of the ball. I dove into the mud pit that had left me black from head to toe on my right side. Landing just short of the ball as it brushed against my fingertips and rolled on the ground into the back of the now, shaking net. My self esteem had[d] gone from a ten to a four in the matter of seconds. Now 10 minutes in, they had one goal.
Mad, I got up off the mushy, muddy ground and yelled to my team, “Pick your heads up girls! We still have it! The first team to score needs to be the last team to score!”
A bit of frustration came over the girls’ eyes and posture. We had lost our fire and our drive to connect every pass, touch and run. This caused problems as we were chasing the ball, running in circles, as if we were dogs chasing our tails. The other team, finding combinations, passing around us and taking shots, as I leaned left and right. I continued to step forward and backwards, jumping violently, punching and catching, diving and sprawling, punting and throwing for 4 minutes straight as the other team was putting the ball into my box like a ball in a pinball machine[e].
My coach said to us, “Calm down and give Elise a break. We need to find our fire and pick our game up! We are playing like nine year-olds!”
I agreed with my coach and needed