Riverside Pride

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 23, 2016

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Submitted: October 23, 2016

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Riverside Pride

Senior year was the greatest year of my life. Of course things didn't always go my way, but that's life. I don’t see myself as a social person, I’ve had the same group of friends since 6th grade and I consider them my family. The beginning of senior was the hardest part (as it usually is) I was just started Lakeland and if I wasn’t studying, I was playing soccer. I wasn't prepared to be so independent; I felt homesick even when I was home. I only had time for school and soccer but I'm not complaining.

Soccer is and always has been a big part of my life. I was introduced as a child when I first moved to Ohio. I lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone and down the street there was a school yard where all the kids played. The school itself was closed down but we still played baseball, soccer, football, anything you can think of really. One day my brother Caleb walked down to the school to see if anyone was having a pickup game, only to find the field was occupied by an organized soccer game. Not knowing what was going on he walked up to a tall man with a red shirt that read “coach” in big white letters on the back. Caleb had no problem getting his attention to ask “When can I join you guys”. The man confused and unsure who this kid was just stood there staring at him with a puzzled face. The coach then explained how he can join the league and how much it would cost.

Caleb and I had stayed with that team for 5 years up until middle school. That’s when the pace had been kicked up a notch. Riverside’s soccer coach at the time had been going to a few of our games and liked what he had seen. I first met Coach Pain after one of my last games when he was conversing with my parents. He informed them about a program he had started and he wanted us to be a part of it. Essentially he wanted to create his own team and teach them his way of playing soccer. I saw it as a great opportunity to become a better player and it made me feel like a big shot. I mean who else can say when they were in middle school a high school coach wanted you to be part of his team. The only drawback to joining the program was that I couldn’t play for my middle school. It was against the rules to be part of both.

I was nervous about being part of a new team even with my brother by my side. I wasn’t playing kids my age anymore I was working with people 2 maybe 3 years older than me. I didn’t belong there and everyone knew it. I felt like I had something to prove. At this point of my life I realized respect isn’t given, it’s earned. As I started getting better I noticed my teammates started getting more comfortable around me. It felt like I had a 3rd family, I was lucky enough to have family family, friend family, and soccer family. Unfortunately having so many people in my life, it was only a matter of time before something bad would happen.

High school had come around and I had prepared myself for the worse. I had been ready to have mean teachers who only want to give me homework. For mean people wanting to start fights with me simply because I was fresh meat. But all of that was fake I had gotten ready for the wrong high school. Movies and television shows had fooled me into thinking High school would literally be hell.  I had nothing to worry about because I loved all my teachers and I didn’t talk to anyone except for the squad and whatever teammate I would run into in the halls. Even if school was hell and I had mean teachers and I did get in fights, it wouldn't have mattered. You see practice is right after school and when I’m on the field there is nothing on my head other than the beautiful game. That’s why when Coach Pain didn’t show to the first practice I was devastated.

Have you ever had a friend or significant other that you felt so unbelievably close to them it scared you a little bit? They know everything about you even the things you won't tell your mother. Now imagine, the person you are thinking about just left you with the same quickness as that thought of them that came to your head. To find out that Coach had abandoned the team he spent 6 years building felt like a joke. Mentor High School had better pay and a better team. I’m not sure how much he actually cared about us considering he wasn’t planning on telling anyone. Harvey might be Riverside's rival but freshman year I loathed nothing more than Mentor High.

I was hopeful that things would be better sophomore year. Things started to turn for the better; we actually had a Coach this year. We ended up getting the recycled washed up coach that Mentor threw away. He wore a bucket hat and shades that did a good job hiding his face. He had the appearance of masculinity that demanded respect. He didn’t get it. He had a different way of doing things compared to Coach Pain and we were conditioned only one way. We all secretly wanted him to come back but we knew it was hopeless wishing. I didn’t last long sophomore year, like I said before respect isn’t given, it’s earned. So when Coach targeted Parker (friend family) I couldn’t stand the thought of playing for someone who would humiliate someone like that, especially someone I was so close to.

Just because I wasn’t play for the school any more didn’t mean I would stop practicing. Soccer is my life and I can’t image life without it. When I would get home from school I would go in my backyard and start doing sprints and then work on my touches and then practice my shot on the side of the garage. My parents hated it but they supported my decision to quit the team.

Parker didn’t leave his house much after that. After school he would just go home and be by himself. Caleb and I both knew that he wasn’t okay and wanted to cheer him up. So after school one day we drove by his house and kidnapped him with his mother’s permission. We took him to the mall just so he could be around other people and get his mind off of things.

A few days after that Parker's father had stopped by one night unexpectedly. It was right around dinner time and my parents had invited their friends over to play some card. I had just gotten back from my run and I recognized his van, every time I see it I can’t help but think about all of the Cedar Point trips we have taken every summer. They all had been waiting for me. I wasn't sure what was going on I couldn’t read their facial expressions. It looked like they had been crying but they weren’t sad. Maybe they were laughing too hard at something that was said or maybe they were tears of joy. “Nice of you to join us son” said my father. “Bob has something he would like to say to you” he continued. I thought that something had happened I was starting to overthink and thought that something had happened to Parker. I looked at Bob and he had started tearing up “I just wanted to thank you for being a good friend to Parker and sticking up for him like that.” I was relieved and surprise but mainly happy. “Parker is like a brother to me and I’m sure that if he was in my place he would do the same.” he hugged me for a minute like he had forgotten that other people were in the room.

Sophomore year was the longest year for me because for the first time in years I wasn’t playing soccer and I had gotten a part time job. I would continue but I’m still trying to forget sophomore year so let’s move on to junior year.

 I was back and better than ever, practicing in the backyard had paid off and everyone could see I had improved since freshman year. We were at a disadvantage that year because we only had 2 seniors which meant that every team would tower over us. We worked on foot control and passing that year but that didn’t seem to do much. Playoffs of 2014 ended quickly as we were eliminated in the first round against Cleveland Heights.

I was making senior year my year I had goals for myself and I had planned on going through with them. My number one goal was to finally score a goddamn point; I mean come on it's my senior year it would be sad to not score at least one goal. That year I scored 5 goals and the first goal I scored was on the night that my friends had come to watch me play. They don't think soccer is the most entertaining sport to watch but who can blame them. I actually scored 2 goals that game. The first goal was beautiful, a fantastic pass from Colton who was guarded by two opponents on the left side of the middle field. I sprinted down the field with an urgency knowing the final defender wasn’t too far behind me. I didn’t have much time left to take my shot and I was getting close to the goal. I shift my body to the right and shot left. The ball slides in the bottom corner with ease, I had finally scored and I was thirsty for more.

Fast forward to the end of the regular season and on to the 2015 playoffs. Riverside was predicted to be beat in the first match much like last year. We had come a long way, worked our asses off and we weren’t going down without a fight. Not only did we defeat the first team but then we dominated the second and the third team followed in their footsteps. We had made it to the District Semi-finals and we were up against Cleveland Heights. In the regular season they had beaten us pretty bad and they were expecting the same outcome for this game. Within the first ten minutes they had scored the first point. They thought they had us beat and they started playing more defensively, smart move. It was only a matter of time before they would get too comfortable and slip up. The first half was over and the score still stood at 0-1. We were starting to get discouraged but I think coach's halftime speech really got our heads straight. We were down to the last 17 minutes.

We were in possession of the ball; it was a corner kick being taken by Brian while the rest of us were in the box waiting for the opportunity to get back in the game. Brian swiftly kicks the ball to the center of the box and ricocheted off Jared’s head. I was standing on the left hand side of the box and the ball was coming right at me. Without thinking I head-butt the ball with brutal force and went right in between the goalkeepers gloves. At first I wasn't sure if the ball went in. Everything had gone silent for a second next thing I know Jared runs up to me and picks me up and the crowd goes crazy. I had tied it up and we got the confidence we needed to finish the game.

In the last 5 minutes of the game we were still tied 1-1 and they had the ball on our side of the field. This wasn’t good because the midfielders refused to fall back and help the defenders. They were outnumbered and could not cover everyone. They passed the ball around like they were playing a game of keep away until one of us got tired. That moment had come and they had taken their shot only to be blocked by our keeper. He had shuffled to his feet and quickly kicked the ball down the field to Colton. Colton had to race 2 of their defenders to the ball; he wasn’t fast enough and was getting fenced off by the defender so the goalie could pick up the ball. Only the defender didn’t realize where he was and tackled the keeper which allowed Colton to get the ball and score the game winning point.

My team was the first male team in any sport to make it to the District Finals in Riverside history. Even though we ended up losing the District finals it didn’t really matter to me. I had tried my heart out and I gave all my effort. I even got the award for “Most Improved Player”. It’s hanging up on my wall in my room next to my high school diploma. Saying high school was rough would be an understatement and saying they were the best years of my life would just be a lie. But if I had the chance to go back in time just watch it all again I think I would.


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