by Sheri L. VanDuyn
I have always said that my son, Brian, never
walked. At 14 months he was still very content to sit and have his older sister, Sarah,
"bring" him any toy he pointed at. Mostly balls, which he would promptly throw
as soon as it was delivered. Sarah would go and chase it for him several times before
tiring of the "ball game". Brian would stand as if getting ready to "take
off", but once up, he would sit back down. No amount of prodding could get him to
walk. Brian finally took his first steps. From that day on he went from walking to running
mostly chasing balls to kick or throw. Since things were getting broken in the house, my
rule became no hard balls inside, only soft balls. I realized telling this to a
toddler did not make sense, but the large balls were moved to the garage where they remain
today to be used outside.
Brian continued bouncing, throwing, and kicking balls. With all this enthusiasm, we signed him up for AYSO soccer at age 5. Brian loved this sport and we thoroughly enjoyed watching him play "beehive" ball where all players run to the soccer ball to kick it no matter what their field position was.
After developing his talent of running, kicking the ball, and scoring, Brian tried out for Strikers, a travel soccer team in our area. After 2 days of drills and skills, we would be notified 2 long weeks later by mail that he made the team. This would mean a new team, new friends, and new places to "travel" which Brian and we as parents enjoyed. We drove each weekend to home or away games and as the team "geled" together, and worked as a team winning more and more games. Brian also played soccer in middle school with his classmates. Here again, winning many games with his 8th grade team being undefeated.
With High School approaching, Brian had tryouts again for the JV team and making the team with his best friend Joel, who had been with Brian on Strikers, 6th -8th grade teams, summer 3-on-3, and now JV team from Western Michigan Christian High School. These 2 enjoyed the best school winning record ever their freshman year.
Sophomore year, Brian made JV team but Joel set his sights higher, for the Varsity team. Both made their own teams and both had success on their separate teams. Brian was the second highest for scoring and Joel developed more and more his incredible ball handling skills on the field.
Junior year (this school year-Fall 2003), the duo was back together on the team-both on Varsity. This season was to be a rebuilding year with ¾ of the team graduating the prior year. Being the youngest team ever with sophomores, juniors, and only 6 seniors, they really started to work together as a team, as was evident game after game. Yes, games were close, but victory kept coming our way.
One thing Brian had to learn early in the season was that Varsity was another level higher. Being smaller in build, he was being shoved and pushed around. He had playing time, but wanted more and started to realize how some felt who sat on the bench. He even commented to me that he wished everyone could play more. He now was sensing soccer as more of a team sport.
Game after game, there were wins. We were ranked #1 competing against schools much larger than us. Win after win; everyone wanted to stop our record. One team was rated the worst in our division and WMC was ranked #1, they lead at half. Their coach was elated, but the second half we came back and defeated them much to their dismay.
The last game of our season was our 1st lost by a refs whistle which our team stopped play and they scored, tying the game up. Going into sudden death overtime, the first to score wins which they did, but with this defeat just before finals, our team realized that winning was much more fun than losing.
With finals starting, it is like whatever prior success you had achieved before doesnt matter now. We played tough teams and continued climbing the victory ladder. Soon it was semi-finals on the other side of the state. The team was dismissed at 1:00 and after a photo shoot on the local fire trucks, their charter bus was escorted to the highway by several towns fire trucks and police departments. The boys were living! As soon as school was finished, we bolted to make the 3 hour run to watch "the boys" and win they did!
The state game was on! This was the game Brian and Joel had dreamed of forever! They had talked of this day while going to practices and watching older teams on their run to state. Now their team traveled down by bus leaving school early. We joined them at the hotel since the game was played across the state and game time was Saturday at 10:00. What a beautiful fall day for soccer. Sunny, cool, and crisp. We dressed for the day with artistic banners in hand to hang in front of all our fans side which filled the bleachers having traveled over 200 miles while the other team came from across the city. Spirits were filled high with nervous excitement.
The Final game started, both boys playing. Down at half, our team rallied to win. After half, Joel scored tying the game and doing an awesome job. This sparked our scoring binge to win 4-1. As the buzzer sounded, our fans went crazy and charged the field. After a few minutes of celebration, they cleared the field for the awards celebration and immediately following charged the field again. With medals around the players necks and trophy in hand, many photos were taken and congratulations and hugging was joined by the spectators. Final season record was 23-1-1WOW! That evening a victory rally was planned at our school win or lose. Again the team was escorted by police and fire vehicles. I had photo boards on display, victory shirts were given to the team and coaches talked recapping all the years wins. Lessons learned-Be a team player; there is no "I" in team. Being part of a team is great! Work hard, to win the race! Keep the faith, hold fast to your dreams; dreams really do come true; even if chasing a ball outside.
"Let us run the race set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."-Hebrews 12:1, 2 "And whatever you do, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ and come with Him to give Him your thanks."-Colossians 4: 17
by Sheri L. Van Duyn
(616) 846-7926 * firstname.lastname@example.org