So, it seems as though I've started a trend over the last few years with my blog. Every Mother's Day I dedicate my page for soccer, humor and emotions to the woman who has influenced my life the most. This year would be no different.
I recently found a blog I had written four years ago about an event in my life that took place in 1998. It shows well the relationship my mother and I have. Soccer has brought us together in a way nothing else ever could. It's just one of the many things the game has done for me. Enjoy.
The details are a bit hazy. But I do remember more than I thought I would.
It was December, 1998 and I was guest playing for the South Central u-15 team. I always played a year up so I was age-eligible for this team still.
It was just my mom and me on the day-long drive to Florida. Our destination this time would be Cocoa Beach. I had been there before for vacation, but at this point in my life, I had never played soccer in the Sunshine State.
It was so cold when we left the day after Christmas. Every time we would stop at a gas station I would get a cappuccino and she would get a coffee or some energy pills to keep her awake for the drive. The heat in the car made us sleepy.
I would usually sleep during most long car rides and this time was to be no different, especially because I was sick. I have a tendency to get sick during the holidays because it’s a change from my usual schedule. It somehow throws off my entire immune system. This still holds true today.
But anyway, we didn’t drive all through the night because that would have been just too much for my mom- so we stopped somewhere in Virginia for the night… just a cheap motel off of I-95 (pretty typical for trips to Fla.).
The next morning we still had quite a bit of driving to do. We stopped at another gas station to refuel, the car and ourselves. This gas station had way more than snacks though. It was almost like a glorified highway gift shop. Doing what we do best, we got caught up in all the cassette tapes that were at the front counter. There were a bunch of good ones and we needed a little pick-me-up for the drive, so we bought some.
Greatest Hits of the 70s, Steppenwolf’s Greatest Hits and one more that I can’t remember. We listened to those tapes over and over for the rest of the ride and when I hear those songs today it brings me right back to being in the Bravada with my mom, having a blast.
Now that I think of it, that’s not all we listened to on the way down there. She had brought Third Eye Blind’s first album in the car with us, and I had hooked my CD player to the tape player to listen to it. To this day that is one of my favorite albums and it is obvious why.
So, the only two things I remember about this trip are the car ride there and the final game of the tournament...
It wasn’t my team and I had never played with these girls before, but we made it to the finals of the Coca Expo Tournament. The grass wasn’t anything special, mostly a bunch of weeds, but the field was surrounded by palm trees, big, beautiful palm trees. And it was hot, hot and humid … even more so for a group of girls from Connecticut.
My mom was happy- she was on the sidelines getting a tan and enjoying the weather. As hot as it was, I was still really happy. I had my royal blue South Central jersey on (even though it was #18 instead of #8) my headband and my Mundial Team Turfs. (This was before I met Dave Clarke who forbade me to ever where turfs on grass again).
The score went back and forth but I don’t recall exactly how. All I know is that with one minute left in regulation the score was 3-2 and we were losing… and I hated losing. In the past with games like these I would come through as the hero and on that day, I would do exactly that. In the 89th minute I had the ball in their box and felt a slight nudge from one of their defenders.
Before I continue I would just like to say that I am a fair player- but when I was younger I did watch a lot of soccer-especially the Brazilians and well let’s just say I learned a few things from them besides the nutmeg and bicycle kick.
After I felt the nudge I flopped like a fish and probably could have gotten an Oscar for the role. With no time to think or to thank the many people who had gotten me to that point in time, I was up to take the penalty kick. If I made it-we went into overtime and if I missed, that 24-hour car ride would be that much worse.
I lined up behind the ball, as always, took my time and placed the ball to the keepers left, hitting the back of the net for the tying goal. We jogged back to the center circle for the other team’s kick off and with the first pass of the ball came the final whistle… talk about a close one.
I don’t think I mentioned that I had scored all three goals in regulation- but now would be a good time to put that in. Overtime is never fun for anyone-unless you win of course. Everyone is tired and the last thing you want to do in heat is play more.
This was truer for the opposing team than it was for us. We came out on fire and they couldn’t handle it. During the overtime I scored three goals and we ended up winning the game 6-3.
We won the tournament and my mom was so happy.
For the most part it’s pretty subconscious- but I think about it from time to time. She really is my motivation. She drove all that way, spent all that money and missed all those days of work so that I could do what I love.
She has invested so much into me and every time I play well, I feel like I am giving back to her… because it’s the best way to give back. I know that me doing well makes her happiest. She loves when people are asking who is that girl… because she can turn around and say, “that’s my daughter” and I’ve seen the smile on her face when she says that… it’s priceless.
The drive home was awesome. I wasn’t sick anymore and we had a trophy in the back seat… but more than that we had so much to talk about from the five-game weekend and we both knew we had a Semi-Charmed kinda life… what we didn’t know was that that was just the beginning of it all.