The field was damp with fresh rain and riddled with mud puddles. Perfect soccer playing weather. The ball swooshed with a trail of water as the kick off whistle screeched. Game time.
As our opponents forward approached, I bent my knees and stood bouncing on my heels. A quick counter move, (watch their hips, I remembered from years of training) and that ball would be mine. She was bigger than me, tall and muscular, but I was lower to the ground and faster. I cut her off on the left before our defense had to make a move. Smooth and fast I cleanly passed the ball back to our forward. She nodded at me as she passed across the field. I felt good. I smelled the crisp air around me as my feet squished further into my already soaked socks.
As the second half began, we were up by one and felt full of pride. If we beat this prep school we would have ultimate bragging rights and a shot at the championship. I crossed over midfield, wind at my back, socks squishing, my foot lightly touched the ball to gain control. I pulled back to pass, and all of a sudden felt my back leg come off the ground. In a swirl of motion, I was in the mud thrown on my side. My ankle twitched and popped…
Like a hammer to my bones, a sharp pain shot through my foot. The tall girl I had defeated earlier was standing over me.
“Guess I didn’t see you there,” she said grinning and ran off the field.
As I tried to stand, covered in mud, my ankle bucked beneath me. I heard my coach call a time out in the background and felt him pick me up like a child. I sat on the bench, motionless, completely soaked in mud and dead grass.
“She needs as x-ray,” I heard the trainer tell my mom.
I knew the season was over for me.
Soccer taught me a lot about life. I still miss it and often want to begin playing again, (even though I know one lap around the field would probably have me passed out).
The real reason I played wasn’t to win. I played for the emotion I felt for the game. Playing the game isn’t about scoring points. Soccer taught me not to give up. A lot of times you may end up in the mud, pushed out by someone stronger. And that’s life. You may need crutches, an x-ray, and still have an ankle that makes a clicking sound many years later. It’s just one of life’s battle scars.
Photography is much the same to me. I never feel good enough, smart enough or fast enough. But I take my licks and keep on kicking. It’s life, it’s rejection….. and I wouldn’t trade it for all the broken ankles in the world.