I know this is coming out a little later, in the day, than usual, but here you go.
Last night, I played soccer for the first time in close to nine years. That might not seem like much, but for me it was kind of a big deal, even though I made light of it yesterday on Facebook. I played all different sports growing up. I played soccer, football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and even bowled for a long time. Not to toot my own horn, but I played competitively in every one of them. I wasn’t on any of the teams to sit the bench or go through the motions. I was there to compete at a high level.
Soccer wasn’t my first love. Football was my first love. Actually, soccer was my least favorite sport that I played growing up. The reason I stuck with it was because it afforded me opportunities that none of the other sports provided. We would travel throughout the Midwest. We would play against the top talent throughout the country. The experience around soccer is what kept me playing soccer. The team that I played on started out when we were really young at a tournament called Badger State Games. The core of the team stuck together for most of our soccer lives all the way through High School. I had teammates play Division 1. I had a teammate make it to the MLS as well as the US National Team. I played against guys that are in the US National Team pool. The point I’m trying to make is I played on one of the best teams playing against the best of the best while traveling to places I wouldn’t have otherwise. None of the other sports provided that.
Basketball we would travel throughout the state at different tournaments. Wrestling was the same way, but we would do it Saturday and Sunday to different places each day. There really wasn’t an outlet, at the time, for baseball in our area to grow. Football was concentrated in fall, but pretty much forgotten until summer time. As much as I loved playing these sports, it didn’t give me the same satisfaction as soccer gave me.
As I got older, I had to make choices as far as what sports I was going to play. In Wisconsin, boys high school soccer is in fall, which coincides with football season. Basketball and wrestling are both winter sports so I had to choose between the two. Then, spring/summer was the choice between club soccer or baseball. So when I got to high school, I played freshman football since I still had soccer for the spring/summer and sometimes winter for indoor. Then, I chose to play basketball instead of wrestling because I watched my brother struggle with cutting weight throughout his high school days. I also made the choice to play club soccer instead of baseball (although I played one year of JV baseball to serve a suspension).
I know what you’re asking yourself. Derek, can you get to the point?
Easy. I will right now.
As my high career winded down, soccer was the only sport left standing. Soccer became the escape that I’ve always needed in life. I fell in love with soccer after I made varsity sophomore year of high school. I lived and breathed the game. Even going as far as watching games on TV. I had my friends that I’ve played with my whole life there with me every step of the way. Then, I lost the love.
I went on to play a year of college soccer. It was exciting, at first, because it was new and I got an opportunity to continue my career. The only difference was I didn’t have the same people around me anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I had a ton of fun during the season, but after the season there was nothing for me to do. I would either sit in my dorm room or drive back home since it was only an hour drive. That’s where I lost the love for the game. It didn’t provide the excitement anymore. It didn’t provide the same or better opportunities as it did previously. I completely lost the love as well as losing my escape. So, I quit.
After nine years away, I decided to give it another shot. I’ve been on a new kick lately where I want to push myself. Last night and the next however many weeks, was just another chance that I could do just that.
PS- It was like I never left. 3 goals and 1 assist 🙂