Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Competition

I played soccer for 12 years, 8 of which were really competitive, including four years on a Division I soccer team. But once my senior soccer season was over, I was over soccer. I immediately stopped caring. For the past year or so, I couldn't figure out why I didn't miss it.

And finally, I figured it out (as this post will tell)...
My four years of college soccer were rough. I'll spare you most of the details, but basically I had difficulty adjusting to college in general and I was riding the bench, a lot. It was super difficult to go from being an all-star on my club team to a bench rider within months. It crushed me. Once I started playing more, we got a new coach who just screwed up our team chemistry. She was immature, divisive, and just plain crazy. I'll spare you most of these gory details too, but here are some gems from her tenure.

1. After losing a game we should never have lost, we ran sprints for an hour after the game. (a MAJOR NCAA violation)

2. She was so pissed at us one day, at the away game, she made us sleep on the floor in a hotel conference room. Again, huge violation.

3. For shorter away trips, we would take team vans (the 15 passenger variety). She thought it was a good idea to race the assistant coach in these vans. They almost flipped and it was one of the top ten scariest moments of my life.

4. She also thought it was a good idea to have us compete in a sprint-triathlon without any training. (On a side note, I did this after pulling an all-nighter writing a paper and was so high on aderral and red-bull that I didn't even notice the pain until hours later. I also lost my contacts in the pool and had to squint through the 10 mile bike ride and 6 mile run.)

Regardless, as a captain, I put everything I had into the team my senior year. I planned big dawg-little dawg stuff, an entire camping trip, team bonding, thanksgiving dinner, everything. Despite all these efforts, we lost, a lot and it was miserable. I cared SO much and gave the team everything I had, that my brain was so consumed with the team. It was really common for me to tell everyone what to wear to practice (what colors) and then show up wearing the completely wrong thing.

My revelation:
I wouldn't trade those soccer years for anything, but they wiped me out- physically, emotionally, mentally. And it isn't the soccer that I am over, its the competition. I cared SO MUCH for SO LONG that I don't have that care in me anymore. I stopped playing indoor last summer because it was far too competitive. The last straw was when a 40 year old man called me a "fat b*tch." I was so angry, it was unbelievable. I couldn't stop shaking. I am just over that level of competition.

But, the point is...I just, honestly, do not care. I want to play for fun, and only for fun. If I whiff the ball, who cares? If we loose, who cares? Not me, sister, not me! And now that I have figured out why I stopped playing, it feels so good. I'm starting to realize why I loved soccer in the first place. And once my schedule slows down a bit, I'd love to get into coaching a youth team. But--it's just the realization that I really do miss soccer, and I really do love it, but its only the sweet, fun parts that I miss- the reason I started playing as a ten year old.

7 comments:

Pink Preppy Party Girl said...

I would call what your coach did you as hazing! I was a dancer all my life and even was on our college dance team at a Division I school. I loved it, but I am done too. I have not danced in any organized form since. The competitive part of sports is good in other ways that will serve you well. I put my kids in golf and tennis--team coaching is less important than your individual coach and you can fire them. My girls play field hockey and were hazed a little in H.S. but still play. My son is in Rec & Ed soccer-not very competitive, but fun.
I say 1 individual sport, 1 team sport and 1 artistic effort. I am curious what you would do differently or what you would suggest for your children.

Pink Preppy Party Girl said...

A few typos and ....when you have children some day.

Saskia said...

Mr B has gone through this exact same thing! He was the captain of our university football (soccer!) team but as soon as uni finished he hasn't played at all. Not one game. He doesn't even miss it all that much, even though it was his life when I first met him. I think the unrelenting and all-consuming competition of it was too much by the end.

Getting involved again in coaching or playing for fun sounds great matey!

Saskia x

Lucky in Love said...

That makes perfect sense. It sounds like you had a rough time playing in college...but I'm sure it made you the person you are today. Struggles have a tendency to do that :)

I hope you find a team to coach or a place to play for fun!

Marlene said...

Oh my goodness, I can not BELIEVE some of that! I'd say that can scar you for sure. You'll make a great youth coach one day.

Elise said...

One of my friends was talent scouted by Arsenal when he was 12. Football (I'm from UK) was his life, but he broke his leg at 16 and couldn't play. It broke him.

Having a passion like you did is great. You loved and hated the days. It made you a stronger person.

Living for it can break a person. I'm glad it didn't break you xx

Mrs. Not-so-Domesticated said...

I think you'd be a great coach, you definitely know what kind of coach you don't want to be. I hope you find what you've been missing.