Friday, March 14, 2008

The Most Random String of Thoughts Ever . . .

For some reason, my ipod just really wants to play Queen today! During the 40 minutes I was on the subway this morning, 3 different Queen songs came on . . . first “Who Wants to Live Forever,” then “Bohemian Rhapsody (and that’s a long one, my friends!),” and last but not least, “Keep Yourself Alive.” For some reason, this brought back some really strong but random memories of being 14 years-old and on my way to the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. I think my big sis, Mallory, must have been into Queen at the time, because I can remember listening to a lot of Queen on the drive down to Lexington, KY, where the tournament was being held.

That summer was one of the best and worst summers of my life all at the same time. My club soccer team had won our state cup championship, which meant we got to go down to Lexington to compete in the Midwest “Regionals” (each state champion played to determine the best team in the region). I’d been playing with the same group of girls since around age 10 or so . . . they were my best friends in the world. Since our club was kind of hard core about practice/training/etc., we spent most of our childhoods together. Well, a couple of weeks prior to Regionals, our coach had broken the news to us that he was going to split our team up the following year in order to try to create a “super team” of sorts—he would take the best of our age group and the best of the next oldest age group and form his new team. My teammates and I were absolutely CRUSHED. I can remember crying over this for days . . . that is, until my teammates and I seemed to come up with an unspoken plan, that I was sure would work. We, the NSA Rebels, decided the only thing we could do to keep him from splitting our team up was to WIN Regionals.

Now we were a very talented team, but we were by no means the best in the region. Still, it was SO important to us to win that tournament that we were going to find a way to make it happen. We honestly believed our a-hole of a coach would see how great we were and want to keep us together after all. We truly played our hearts out all tournament long and managed somehow to make it to the championship game. We would be facing the Ohio South champions . . . a team from Cincinnati we’d played (and lost badly to) on several occasions. In fact, the closest we’d ever come to them was losing 0-2. But we knew we had to pull out a victory that day. And damn it, we’d do anything to do just that!

I played defense for our team, and let me tell you, we were absolutely pummelled all game long. It was exhausting. Our goalkeeper and defense fought SO hard to stay close to those b*tches. Thinking back now, it’s hard for me to imagine that we were just 14 years old. The kind of courage and heart we showed that day was far beyond our years. We truly pushed the limits of what we thought possible of our bodies. In fact, it really reminds me of the Students Run L.A. kids I encountered during the Los Angeles marathon—and they were around the same age too.

At any rate, we managed to stay within one goal of our opponents, and with just a few minutes remaining, my friend/teammate Monica blasted a shot from pretty far out from the goal. Miraculously, it somehow made it past the other team’s ‘keeper and into the net. We were elated! There were just a few minutes left to go in regulation and we knew that if we held on through overtime, we’d get to challenge them in a shootout. We did it. We made it through the overtime periods without allowing a goal. The entire time, we just did anything and everything to keep that ball out of our goal, despite the fact that we were all beyond exhausted. It was time for pk’s (penalty kicks).

After nearly our entire team had shot, and the game was still tied, my friend Lindsay stepped up to take what could be the winning shot. Lindsay was probably the last person you’d expect to make a pk. She had a strong shot, but precision wasn’t exactly her strong suit. She was an unlikely hero, to put it bluntly. Still, we believed in her. My teammates and I held hands and said silent prayers, begging for her shot to go in. Amazingly, it did. We had won the Regional Championship and had beaten the b*tches from Cincinnati! We were elated and beyond exhausted at the same time. I can remember just sobbing for hours after the game. I was so wiped that I couldn’t even speak. I just cried and cried.

As it turns out, my coach did decide to be a dick-head despite the fact that my team achieved the impossible. Ha, I suppose it doesn’t take away from our tremendous achievement—we still get to say that, at one point in time, we were members of one of the top club teams in the country for our age. But still! What a jerk! Yeah. So I guess the moral of this story is . . . people are assholes. And lots of people take youth soccer WAY too seriously! And finally, “super teams” usually end up sucking way worse than the original kick-ass team did. Yep. All true.

Ah, memories! I know this post doesn’t really have anything to do with running, but it was on my mind and I felt like re-living that moment through my blog. This tournament ranks up there with my marathon finish in the book of the “proudest moments of Irish Cream.” That’s what I love about marathoning . . . that feeling of knowing you overcame some pretty crazy odds to do something few people ever will. Yay, marathons!

Okay, I’m done reminiscing. Tomorrow is my first long run on my half-marathon training plan (and Wilson’s first long run of all time—YAY! Go Wilson!), so instead of looking back, I’m going to spend the rest of the night looking forward and mentally preparing myself. I’ll report back tomorrow with the result of my first long run since the marathon (as well as a recap of my week, training-wise)! Have a great weekend everyone!


Anonymous said...

I totally remember all of that. Even the Queen. I still love Queen. I had forgotten about how Bradley was going to split you guys up, tho. Boy did that suck. But hey, at least you were nationally ranked, back in the day! :)


Irish Cream said...

Indeed. Ha, I was actually struggling to remember his name! Apparently I'd blocked it from memory or something?

afterwordsbooks said...

i freaking remember bradley. what an a-hole. he thought i was too fat to be on his precious nsa pretty-girl team. bastard. not that i'm bitter or anything...