The perfectly groomed green grass stretches out far and wide. Chalky white lines hold a barrier to the field, confining play after play. A goal kick soars through the air, untouched by all players, only to be thrown back into the chaotic play that the final score will depend upon. Soccer, the beautiful game, here is a letter to you.
Most people will write an open letter to a friend or a family member that has a significant impact on their life. I too have done this, but now I’d like to change the perspective a bit. As I sit here, I reminisce about the love-hate relationship I developed with the sport that made me and, quite literally, broke me. A sport that changed my perspective and gave me invaluable life lessons that made me who I am today.
To the unrelenting schedule that occupied 90 percent of my life, how crazy is it to think I felt the need to make soccer my top priority for the longest time. At times, I felt overwhelmed and that I could not handle the immense amount of travel that came along with soccer. Not to mention the pressure to do well in school and a maintain a semi-normal social life. Weekend after weekend would be an adventure to a new soccer complex, conveniently placed in the middle of similar looking cornfields.However, the painfully long road trips surprisingly had their advantages. These trips blessed me with quality time to spend with my mom or dad, depending on whose turn it was to travel across the country that week. Looking back on this now, the endless conversation and cheerful banter is a memory I truly cherish.
To the beautiful game, you had your ups and downs. It would be naive to say that I didn’t become completely frustrated while trying to learn a new trick. Day in and day out, I would spend hours trying to perfect every single movement, which sometimes drove me absolutely insane. However, in the end I gained a strong sense of determination that I did not know I had. The tricks I thought were impossible to pull off slowly became easier, all it took was dedication and patience. Thankfully, this mindset seemed to permeate the rest of my life.
To the team that became my family, I am forever grateful for the friendship and endless support that defined our little community. To be completely honest, I am pretty sure we spent more time together than I spent with my actual family. The inside jokes, feeling of belonging and strong team bonds we created will always have a special place in my heart.
To the aftermath of the beautiful game, all good things must come to an end. While this sport was such a integral and cherished part of my being, I now realize that it is not the only part of my life. For everything that I put into this game, I am even more blessed for what I got out of it. Thank you for the unrivaled experiences, the late nights on the field and the abundance of grass stains. You will be missed.