Been in similar shoes

Before I became a crazy runner, Soccer was my love. I was not very good, but I was an average player. I played in high school and club teams and then 2 years at Santa Rosa Community College in Northern California. My 2nd year was the more memorable of the two seasons.
We had a new and awesome coach. She had been a star player at the local university, Sonoma State, and we were excited to have her on board. I was a starting midfielder who also played some forward position. I worked my ass off to BE a starter because like I said, I was a mediocre player. But, I always believed I would make a difference and stand out to my coaches if I just kept working hard to improve. (I was a team player but I still wanted to work harder than anyone else.)

So, our season went well and at the end of the regular schedule, we found ourselves in a familiar position; we had to beat another team in our league in order to progress to the State Championship. We had already beaten the team 2x during regular season, but one more time was needed to move on to State, The Ultimate Goal.

The year was 1991, i think. The game took place on our home field in Santa Rosa. I remember sitting in my white Honda CRX listening to a song called “One Moment In Time” by Whitney Houston. It was initially played in the 1988 Olympics and I loved it. It always provided me with inspiration, motivation and determination. I finished listening to the song and went to join my teammates for our game.

After 90 minutes, we were tied. I cannot recall the score, but we went into 1 overtime and it was still tied. Next, it was 2nd overtime. Still tied.
90 minutes. Tied.
Two 15 minute overtimes. Tied.

We moved on to penalty kicks with our season and our dream on the line.
The sidelines were packed with lots of people cheering for both sides. You could feel the tension, the pressure, the excitement. Both teams were exhausted, but it was time to see which team had more left in them.

Each coach had to pick 5 players to begin the kicks. I was not one of the 5 picked and I was devastated inside. I knew I was not a great player, but I also had 100% confidence I could hit the net for us. Well, each team sent one player at a time and after 5 kicks each, we were still tied. I think both teams had missed one. Player 6 needed to be chosen by coach. I was not that player. More inner devastation. Said 6th player ended up missing the kick and after the other teams turn, we had another chance. Player 7 chosen. It was me.

I had some friends on the sidelines cheering me on. I had my teammates cheering me on. I felt the weight of so much intensity and pressure. It was one of those moments you never forget.

I walked up to the penalty kick line and placed the ball where it needed to go. Just me and the goalkeeper. I was so alone and yet so supported. This was my moment. My one moment in time. How was I going to do?

I looked at the goalkeeper, got the o.k. from the referee to proceed.

I kicked the ball into the upper left hand corner of the net, just beyond the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper. I made it. We won.

We were going to the State Championship Game. I was yelling and screaming as were my teammates as we all mobbed each other on the field.
It was one of the most unforgettable and special moments of my life.

I share this memory because it came to mind as I have been watching the US Women’s Soccer Team in the World Cup. Watching their game vs Brazil was one of the best games, best finishes I have ever seen. A phenomenal clutch performance, especially playing a man down for about 50 minutes, in tough temperatures. They gutted it out and never quit. When Abby Wambach scored the tying goal with seconds remaining, I had chills and got teary-eyed in the midst of my pure excitement. What a moment. What a thrill this game of Soccer can be. I hope you are tuning in.

The words to the song were so fitting for me on that day, in particular. Here are some of the words:

Each day I live, I want to be
A day to give the best of me
I’m only one, but not alone
My finest day, is yet unknown

I broke my heart for every gain
To taste the sweet, I faced the pain
I rise and fall, yet through it all
This much remains

I want one moment in time
When i’m more than I thought i could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me

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3 Responses to “Been in similar shoes”

  1. Absolute joy to read this! What a great picture you painted…truly inspired.

  2. What a story! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. afuntanilla Says:

    thank you to you both!

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