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Photo by: Rachel Klaus
November 14, 2017
I’ve spent my entire life listening to other people tell me that soccer is just a game. They’ve told me that soccer games and practices weren’t worth missing school dances or parties, and that all of the long miles on the road traveling were a waste of time just to play a stupid game.
To me, soccer has always been more than a game; it has been a way of life. Over the course of 16 years, this game has had the power to teach me more about life than I could have ever imagined. Like life itself, soccer is cyclic, seasonal and at some point, had to come to an end.
Now that I have finished my final soccer season as a Colonel, I have had time to reflect on the sport, the journey, the memories and the true value of all of these things. While finishing my soccer career in an overtime loss that prevented my team from continuing our season was a tough pill to swallow, I can’t help but be satisfied after having defied the odds by getting to do something that not everyone gets to do by competing at the Division I college level.
Although some people might consider soccer a game that they can’t relate to, the ups and the downs of the sport have taught me life lessons that I believe anyone can understand. At the most basic level, soccer is just a game, but when looked at from another angle, soccer can transform into a teacher of some facts of life that sometimes must be learned the hard way.
Hard work doesn’t always pay off. Your hard work and efforts might not always pay off the way you think they will. Whether it be in work, school or sport, we all set goals and sometimes fall short of our expectations. I worked hard as a soccer player to ultimately help my team win games, and sometimes that didn’t happen. In the end, the important part is to work hard and set high goals, even if you do fall short.
Not everyone is here to be your friend. If you’ve been a member of a team, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “a team is like a family.” Just like families have their feuds, teammates do too. At some point in life, you realize that not everyone around you has your best interest in mind. People are sometimes driven by selfish motivations that can jeopardize your future, whether it be in the workplace or in your family or personal life. Don’t let others take advantage of your time and talent.
You can’t do it all. You need to determine your priorities in everyday life, because let’s face it- we can’t do every single thing that we wish to accomplish in a single day. From my own experience, the hectic balance of family, studies, work, sport and personal life can easily be thrown off if priorities are not set and truly understood. Make your life easier by focusing on the things that are most important to you, because if you try to do every single little thing, you’ll end up overwhelmed and missing out on the big things.
If you don’t succeed, try again. Soccer is a game of trial and error, as is life. When you are faced with failure, you are faced with an important decision to make as well. You can either give up, or try again. When it comes to soccer, a method that I tried to focus on when I was failing to perform my best was to try to play smarter, not harder. With a simple reevaluation of your circumstances, you can always find a way to try again, even when you fail.
By teaching me some of life’s hardest lessons, soccer has served as a tool that has both challenged me and helped me grow as a person. Through my choice to not give up on soccer despite the sacrifice it required, I got the chance to grow my passion into a completely irreplaceable experience over many years.
No matter if you can relate to sports or not, everyone has a passion, a hobby or a pastime in life that they feel strongly about. When the times get tough and people start to doubt you and your passion, don’t give up. Focus on what specifically drives you as an individual, and if you ever have the chance to make your passion your everyday job like I did during my college soccer career, hold onto that chance and never let it go. Soccer might be over but I will hold close the things the game has taught me for years to come.