Watch Me

Common Application: General topic of your choice.

I’m sure I have the visiting team’s attention by the time I finish my first lap around the soccer field. Standing in a circle, contemplating my presence, they venture guesses quietly, “Cross country? Lost? Girl’s soccer?” Finishing my second lap, I can always feel them looking at me, trying to put the pieces together. I am running the laps by myself because today, like many other days, I have missed my team’s warm-up when classes at school ran into practice. Although it is amusing to hear the other team’s bewilderment, by the end of my warm-up I welcome the security of a group. The boys, discussing whatever had happened in school, include me with friendly greetings. I join ‘my’ team with a feeling of satisfaction; glancing at the visitors, I think, ‘Let them ponder that for a while.’ Now the other team stands, and stares across the field trying not to look too obvious. Their coach barks, “Concentrate! Move! What are you looking at?” But chances are he knew long before he even got to the game. “It’s just a girl,” he says. I knew it was risky accepting the opportunity to play with a boys’ team. It is something that could have had resonating effects on me, as I am in high school, and passing judgment on people seems to be something my age group has a knack for. The team isn’t my high school’s either so school pride and loyalty are potentially sensitive issues as well. However, when I consider my passion to play and improve, this seems like a perfect opportunity.I have proved myself to my own adoptive team and coach, but because others do not know me, scrimmages are always the most eventful, not to mention trying experiences. When we begin to play, the opposing team’s initial confusion is to our advantage since I have no challenges. The defender who is my mark, assigned to keep me from the ball, doubtfully attempts to tackle while his exasperated coach yells. The other team’s slow start doesn’t always last, and in an effort to save their dignity in the face of accusations, opponents frequently resort to more than soccer, and the games become quite entertaining. I have learned that I cannot expect my reputation to precede me; I must start over every scrimmage with the faith that after playing the ninety minutes I will have earned the respect of a fellow player. I like to see that the effort I put into each game has made me an equal. Regardless of the score, I count a game as a victory when I can look evenly at my former mark and he can sincerely, albeit quietly, say “Good game.” Every new experience requires me to earn my reputation. In the future, I expect that some first impressions of a young girl aspiring to become an engineer will have to be proven wrong, just as I strive not only to win a soccer game, but also to win my opponent’s respect. I have to answer many questions about my decision and interest in playing with the boys; most people, confused, wink and grin, and ask if I really even play. These are the people who do not know me yet, and normally, smiling, I invite them to a game- “watch me.”

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