If you had a full day with no commitments, no homework, no home responsibilities, and only the money in your pocket, what would you do? Where would you go? Whom would you take with you?
My heart is hammering as sweat drips like tears down the side of my warm, sticky face. Blood, propelled by adrenaline, races throughout my body. Twisting open the bottled water I bought earlier, I sit down on the blue-green grass, looking at the tessellation of squares that hangs over the white, rectangular frame at the end of the field. I see Bryan practicing his free kicks, focused and determined. I see Jesse juggling the ball with ease. I see Eric frantically running after the ball that just missed the goal. “Okay, half time’s over!” Bryan shouts. I stand up and run towards the field, feeling the warm afternoon breeze on my face. “Ball, ball!” I shout as I come running up the middle of the field. Ben cuts quickly to the left, just in time to avoid a sliding Bryan, who yells in frustration. Suddenly, the ball is at my feet. I look up, and the images around me-the players and the field-come to a halt. As I slowly lift my legs and get ready to move, I see a breach in the defense. I dribble past Ali with a classic scissor move. I see Eddie, who seems confident in his ability to guard me. As I face him, I flinch slightly to the left while pushing the top of the ball to the right. I move past Eddie and sprint towards the goal with the ball. “Man on, man on!” I hear Craig’s voice, warning me that someone is coming. Now I must make a pivotal decision: should I keep dribbling and shoot, or should I pass to Eric, who is sprinting up the sideline? I decide to pass. “Clank!” The ball just misses the goal, hitting the crossbar. I look up to see the ball whistling past me, and then turn to watch as it lands next to Bryan’s feet. He sprints back towards our goal. “Goooooallll!” he shouts, as Ali, Eddie, and the others crowd around him to celebrate. I could not help but wonder: if I had dribbled that ball, could I have scored the winning goal? Soccer has had an extraordinary impact on my life, teaching me to give my all in everything that I take on. Soccer taught me to be unselfish, and to always think of others. Soccer taught me to work as part of a team. Soccer, I realized at that moment, is not about winning, but about teamwork. My friends and I slowly walk off the field, feeling the evening breeze. “Wow, it’s dark. Let’s head home, guys,” Jesse suggests. “Yeah, it was fun playing soccer all day,” I tell him as I pick up my cleats. The lamps start to flicker orange, reminding me of the name of the field: Carrotwood Park. Carrotwood Park was a blessing that we never took for granted. The days when we would drive around looking for a park to play soccer ended when we found this field, hidden in the depths of a neighborhood in which none of us lived. I slowly walk towards my car, once again remembering that this is not just a field: it’s our field.