Two Short Soccer Tales
Contributing Editor Graham Fox
A Lunch Time Adventure
High knees. High knees! Once I start walking through the snow my feet sink into a deep depression and it’s hard to push forward through the drift. The wind whips around me, pushing the temperature to just below 0. The bronzed general in the middle of the park points forward into the blowing white urging me to continue.
I’ve run up the World War One Monument steps in the easy summer. Up the steep steps that soar and twist around stair-switchbacks till you reach the top and look out over downtown Kansas City.
Today, if there are steps, I can only see white indentations. If you can guess where the first step begins, you’ll make it up the rest without falling. A blanket of white is around me, and the wind keeps me company. At the top of the monument, there’s an invisible asphalt path that runs around the perimeter of the park.
No one would leave their warm offices and apartments today.
During other lunch time run I spot runners. On a warm day, they come flooding out to the freedom of the streets, business men and woman stripping away their suits for bright colored shorts and dry-fit shirts.
On a cold day, the numbers die down, but still, people wrap themselves. Old men in impossibly tight running pants, gallop down the street, package bobbling.
Today, the first really, really cold day after the first big snow storm of the year in Kansas City, life doesn't stir on the streets. Arctic air had reached down and frozen Kansas City. Even the bus stops usually full of people traveling to and from Missouri slums are missing.
High knees. White breath. And then. When I was sure no one else was out. With deserted streets all around and a snowed over monument to the heroes of the past behind; powering down an invisible path.
Movement in a far field.
A skirmish. A sheet of snow throw into the air.
A ball flying.
I turned from the invisible path, jumped up over the snow piled high on the curb, and ran.
Snow soccer on an impossibly cold day.
One SuperDraft To Rule Them All
Imagine: Play soccer your whole life. 4 year olds flocking together like seagulls after a piece of bread. Junior High club team traveling with parents to win Championships. Buckets of orange slices. Track pants.
Four years of high school soccer where you are better than anyone else on the team. Winning high school Championships. The most important game of your life.
Four years of college soccer, no longer the best but fighting your way into the starting lineup. Four years of games, playoffs, and championships (the most important game of your life) watched by only a few hundred, most of them parents. Beers, weed, parties. Few scouts stopped by your games. A coach with only enough resources to work on promoting and helping one player a year move up to the next level.
And then: Short burst of attention. Calls from coaches. Calls from MLS personal. Slow ongoing interest and negotiations. A flight to the combine. Three short games The most important games of your life. Three games that could give you a spot in the draft. 3 games in a few days, the most important of all the thousands of games you’ve played in the past.
Sitting at a table with your mom in a large conference room. Player after player selected before you.
“And with the 19th pick in the 3rd round (55th overall) the Chicago Fire pick: YOU”
Your twitter feed jumps by thousands of followers. Somehow, in the impossibly small gaps of talents between those who continue onward and those don’t, you had just a tiny bit more talent than thousands and thousands of other college soccer players. Players who have gone through the same experiences as you, many who were better but never noticed.
And now: You’ve been selected, but just to a trial. Picked 55th, you’ll probably get dropped before the season starts. Even if you do get a contract, all you’ll get is the league minimum wage.
Thankfully you didn’t get picked to the Galaxy. There’s no way you could afford to rent an apartment. Holed up like soccer players in a rat hole.
But if you aren’t going to make it, and you have to have complete confidence you will, at least you’re in the one country that gives you a complete education along the way. And since you were never sure of your professional future, you didn’t pick Sport Science and Management as your degree.
Check out this incredible picture I spotted on The Big Picture’s photo display commemorating the 1st anniversary of the devastating earth quake in Haiti.
Don’t forget that Bruce has a list of big games this weekend, just keep scrolling a bit more.
Did you know that the SuperDraft follows the NSCAA conference? Kansas City next year!
When I run when it’s really cold out like in my short story above, my beard looks like this.
Did you know? Wikipedia turns 10 today! I have a hard time imagining the internet without it.
A musical selection you may or may not like (inspired because I bought tickets to Wakarusa).