7.06.2006

Grade School Soccer or "Me and My Left Foot"

Last week, I wrote about Sports and how I’ve come to view it as an anomaly. With the World Cup thing in the news, I’d like to share my first and last sport team thing I did.

Grade School Soccer. Kansas in the mid to late 80s did a lot with soccer. It seemed like a lot to me at the time since we had to drive 20 minutes on dirt roads to get to what seemed to be just-above-flood-plain soccer fields. There were several fields, with hundreds of kids I have never seen before nor would ever see again. Complete with shin guards and the blue/red reversible rayon-like shirt, I was placed in a position that was best for a pudgy left-footed slacker like me.

Right Full Back.

The Full Back’s job was to defend the goalie which meant for me to kick the ball as hard as I could with my left foot to one of our more athletic teammates, hopefully a forward, but most likely a half-back with thick glasses. I liked my position. It gave me a feeling of defending a castle, but not being too committed because full backs weren’t allowed to cross the mid-field line. This was a comfort to keep my wobbling belly out of the fray where it was thickest. I played two years with two different teams (that I can remember) and my very first team was called, stupidly, “Avalanche.” I protested this, but my rank on the team didn’t allow for any cool and calm discussion. Every other team usually had a name that went “The Hornets” or “The Pirates,” that way one could proudly state “I’m a hornet/pirate.” But with Avalanche, you’re left with this esoteric feeling of it just being. I’m sure that wasn’t what my quick witted teammates intended, but since our forwards were pretty strong, it didn’t matter. It also meant that I didn’t see the ball much, which did matter – in the sense that I didn’t want anything to do with it. Anytime the ball broke through the hapless half-back defense, it was up to Yours Truly to do my duty which was to 1.) panic and 2.) shuffle myself up to the ne’er-to-do-well and time my steps so that my left foot would kick the ball a.) into the kid’s top part of his foot or b.) up the field where no one was located or 3.) chase helplessly the kid with the ball who decided to run diagonally away from me therefore creating a mathematical/geometrical proof that would keep me from catching him.

Math is stupid.

My first soccer experience was done with an average record of something-something which impressed no one in particular, let alone ourselves. Because of my “neither here nor there” experience, I didn’t fight being signed up again for next year with a completely different team. This team, however, was horrible. This team made the coach cry. This team hated practice in unison and expressed it vocally. I was non-vocal, but it was apparent that my sweaty corpulence would much rather be watching Tiny Toons. But don’t let the unity of not wanting to run around orange cones lead you to believe that we were tight. No. These kids were annoying. If they thought I was annoying in return, so be it. But I can’t forgive these kids that officially named our team “The Flowers.” No, I kid you not, we we’re called “The Flowers.” Now if that doesn’t invite a beating from the kids in the other district, I’m not sure what would. Suddenly, Avalanche seemed clever and witty. The brainiacs behind this name stuck by it because they wanted the chance to circle around with hands in the center and go “FLOWER … POWEEER!!” in front of our soon-to-be victors. This is something that the current young internet community would label “teh ghey” or as the opposing team called it “are you serious?”

My cousin played for a very successful team called “The Bulldogs” that had an impressive record. While he could be a Bulldog, I had to be a Flower. Not cool, man. Not cool. I never saw my cousin on the field of combat and it is just as well. In pairing up a Bulldog to a Flower, the odds are hardly matched. Nevertheless, The Bulldogs went on to win trophies while the Flowers were left to reconsider the powerlessness of their unified hands-in-circle shout thing.

I remember enjoying soccer, even outside of eating orange slices between halves. My position didn’t ask too much, nor did it leave me idle, but I never considered playing seriously due to the extreme amount of running they do. Why the field has to span the length of a small town, I’m not too sure. Since I was left with a pair of shin guards that were not going to be used, I donned them on my forearms and pretended to be a robot superhero.

Hey, you can only as so much from a grade schooler.

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