My daughter was lying on the ground in a lump in the drizzle. Her teammate sprinted faster than she had all day across that field, only slightly slower than my own panic. A week earlier, it had been my daughter speeding across the field towards a third teammate, pausing only to bark, “Coach can I go out there?!” from the bench. Head injuries both of them. The pains have disappeared, even my daughter’s bruised eye is gone.
What does a mother take away from those experiences? The panic, the worry, the feeling that life is a delicate balance of risk, safety and experience … all that has faded.
What remains are those sprints, faster than any play on those soccer fields. These three young ladies have forged a bond over years on the field. There’ve been injuries, successes, losses, wins—all manner of experience. And the outcome of their time together bore them on those sprints.
At this time, these girls are on a new team, the middle school boys soccer team. It is a new chapter of experience for the three of them. The boys team needs them to for options on the field. The girls’ participation allows them replacements, affords them a rest, and surprisingly adds skills to their complement. The girls have been immediately, respectfully accepted as fully-skilled members of the team. And the boys are happier to have them, the longer they work together. The girls aren’t afraid on the field, pass easily, understand strategy and demonstrate speed. And the boys don’t hold back either. They hold the girls to their standards; and the girls return the respect.
Those sprints … those amazing acts of loyalty. I expect the boys will earn sprints of their own. And I expect that the girls will earn sprints from the boys as well, although they make take on different forms.
It is those sprints that I admire. And so I remind my daughter that those sprints are sweeter than any victory, more difficult to attain than any goal against any competitor and longer lasting than the shine on any trophy.