THE LAST FIVE ...
Closing up shop
It may be time for a change
Entry in the air
Music of the moment
Or ... BE RANDOM!
Sunday, Jan. 9, 2005 - 3:24 p.m.
Assistant coaches are also for doing my laundry
Most of my organized soccer playing experience is not unlike that of Brendon, Melissa and Jason on Home Movies. My last attempt at extracurricular participation came during sophomore year of high school. After playing freshman baseball, I suppose I had a desire to be on a team again the following fall, and with my friend Ian on the JV team, I already had someone to goof around with. During one game as we sat on the bench having just finished off another cup of water each, we started singing "Yellow Submarine." I sang the lines of the first verse while Ian echoed the words into his cup, creating the sound of the Beatles' original:
As we live a life of ease
Another day later that season, we were getting trounced on the road when the coach called me over to put me into the game. While we waited for a stop in play, I stood near him getting ready to sprint toward the position he would have me fill, swapping places with the starter who would end up on the bench. But as play moved past us into a corner of the field and the referee's attention went with it, the coach pushed me onto the field and said, "Go in!" When I asked who should come out, he said, "No one. Just go out and play!" In those final two minutes or so, he made four insertions without anyone coming out of the game. We finished with a 15-11 power play.
I don't remember the coach's name, but it wasn't McGuirk. Certainly could have been, though. But my soccer playing days weren't stellar. I never understood the offsides rule until that one year playing in high school, this after maybe five years or more of playing in the town's rec league on Saturday mornings. I'd been on one traveling team that faced off against other towns in the county, but by then I learned that I wasn't good enough to score, so I no longer offered to play forward. I also knew that the midfielders did the most running on the field, so defense was where I decided I'd try to make my name. I found it much easier to react to another player's attempts to maneuver the ball by me than to be on the offensive end of such shenanigans. And once I'd helped clear the ball down the field and our team attacked the other goal, my fellow back and I simply had to advance to about midfield and await our turn to participate again. It was nice to take a moment to walk down the field every now and then. Turns out soccer just wasn't my game.
I may have scored a goal or two back when we played on a smaller field with smaller goals, when we were younger. Once I got to the seventh/eighth grade level, or whenever the fields became high-school sized, I soon became overmatched. I later felt the joy of scoring in high-school gym classes and while fulfilling my college phys. ed. requirements freshman year, when I filled two consecutive "rotations" with indoor and then outdoor soccer. On one May morning when we played out on the girls varsity field set up on the football field, I served a corner kick from the left corner that rose high into the air and then curved in toward the goal. It hit the crossbar and bounced out into the box, missing a goal by inches. During college, I remember being out on one of the fields beneath the flight path of the South Bend airport, having just dropped off my sister after her weekend visit. As play moved away from me just around the time she was due to leave, I looked up and saw her flight taking off.
But my memories of soccer-playing days seem to be more similar to the disorganized, absent-minded guidance of Coach McGuirk than the disciplined, precise movements of any top programs at the high-school level.
But now that Home Movies makes me think back to my own youth soccer days, I find it much more enjoyable that way.
Next page: I don't think he's coming
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