Somebody has to feel like this. And I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone. It hurts. It hurts worse than any injury I have ever had. It hurts your entire body. Your heart, your head. It hurts your knees, and your legs can’t hold your weight.[media-credit id=105 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Twelve seconds left. I knew the game was over then. That’s when I felt it. The floodgates opened where my tears were stored, and I couldn’t hold them back. I dropped to a squat, then to my butt. I just sat there. People told me, “Keep your head up, you played played great.” My head weighed a million pounds and every minute it got heavier.
I knew we had a game the next day, but it was a game I didn’t want to play in. State or bust was the way I felt. And bust was the way it turned out. The season was such a success, but I didn’t see it that way. We lost. That’s all I was thinking about. We lost, and it was over. The season, the quest for a state title. The quest to be the best soccer team ever at East. All of it was over.
Going into this high school season, I knew what we had. We had great coaching, excellent chemistry and unbelievable talent. If that wasn’t enough, 17 returning players that had Varsity experience, nine of which were starters the year before. The expectations were at their highest, and everyone knew this season would be special.
And it was. We were the second team ever to make it to the state semifinals, and the first team to be back-to-back KA-MO tournament champions. Even with all those accolades, I was still sitting on the ground that night– crying. It was the biggest difference in moods I’ve ever experienced. One team was hysterically rejoicing, the other, utterly heartbroken.[media-credit id=175 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Then there was the bus ride home. Squeaks. Rattles. Only the sounds the bus made except for a soft sniffle or sigh from the teammate next to me. So quiet that you could hear the bus driver’s radio. Once we arrived back at East, there were goodbyes and a few hugs. I felt like it took an hour to walk to my car. I didn’t want to face the reality that it was over.
It wasn’t completely over, though. We still had the third place game on Saturday. To the best of my ability, I got the last game out of my head. But we didn’t play to win. Our coach played everyone, the starters and the back-ups. We lost 3-1. At the end of the game, I was in the same position as the night before. My head in my gloves– crying. It was the end. The end of a season. The end of a career. The end of an era.
I was distraught for my teammates, for my coach. I played with my heart on my sleeve, and that’s why it hurt so much. I played with no regrets, I worked so hard and came so far, that it wasn’t fair to come up short. But that’s the way it happened. And I can’t dwell on it. I love my teammates. They are my extended family. The season is over, but that doesn’t change any of that.