A couple weeks ago, I blogged about my frustrations with publishing, how it’s so hard to keep going, to keep doing even the thing you love doing when you’re feeling crapped on in every direction. Rejections, crickets on full requests, the close calls that are never close enough, and the permeating feeling that I am nevereverever going to get The Call make it difficult to press on in the writing biz. Despite the fact that I’ve written seven complete novels and handfuls of other unfinished drafts, this go-round of querying has left me feeling very defeated. Frustrated. And completely bombarded by What’s The Point thoughts.
Last week this group of girls (and my husband) shut those thoughts up real quick. Hopefully permanently.
Soccer is a beautiful game, but it’s also a very cruel one. The better team does not always win. The stronger team will sometimes fall. I’ve watched my husband’s teams take the pitch for twenty years now, and in those twenty years, I’ve watched several strong girls teams advance to many rounds of the playoffs, including eight regional finals. Those regional finals? They’re the decider of the Eastern Champion, the last game before State Championship Game. They decide who will go and who will stay home. They’re exciting. But they’re also heart-breaking. I’ve seen a few one-goal games decided by cheap corners or garbage fouls or PKs.
There’ve been a lot of close calls.
But never close enough.
Last year’s regional final was probably the worst. We played our conference cross-town rivals, and both teams were amazing. On both sides of the ball, there was hunger, determination, and a lot of really good soccer, and the draw on the scoreboard at the end of regulation proved it. The game was still tied after two ten-minute overtimes and two five-minute golden goal overtimes. That’s 110 plus minutes of soccer, people. The game then went to penalty kicks. Theirs went in. Ours didn’t. And once again, we had made it so close. But not close enough.
And enough to maybe make most people want to give up.
But not my husband’s girls. They came back this year with a vengeance, determined to get to State Championship. So, in the off season, they continued to play soccer with their clubs, but as a team, they spent pre-season working out at a local gym, encouraged and fired up each other through group chats, and bonded as a team so that they could achieve their dreams.
They did. They won the conference championship, sailed through four rounds of the state playoffs to reach the regional final where they faced their cross-town rivals.
The game was heart-fought. The other team scored in the first two minutes but our girls came back, tying the game up, then scoring the go-ahead goal. With three minutes left in regulation, the other team scored, sending the game into overtime. Our cross-town rivals scored off a penalty kick. Never defeated, our girls tied it back up. The game went into PKs and this time, our girls owned it and won the game.
And sent us to the first-ever state championship.
I could stop this post here. These girls came together as a team, spit adversity in the eye, and made school history. But they had one more battle to face, and hoo boy this was a big one. The team we were facing in the State Championship Game boasted an undefeated record, seven D1 commits and a 6’2”
giant midfielder who could score one mean header. On paper we should’ve been clobbered. But nope. Our girls rose to the competition, they never gave up, and they left it all on the pitch.
The scoreboard said we lost. 2-1. Whatever. These girls will forever be champions in my heart. Their NEVER SAY DIE attitude, their belief in each other and in their dreams, their incredible poise and tenacity in the face of adversity are beyond inspiring. Also, they’re really freaking good at what they do. And they are SO fun to watch. I’m so proud of them. And I wish the whole world could know how awesome they are.
They’ve certainly re-inspired me to keep pushing for my dream. Frankly, we can all learn a lesson from them, don’t you think?
Oh yeah, and State Championship Game? Don’t miss us too much. We’ll definitely be back.