The Big Change
III. Goalie - The Big Change (3)
Many years passed since those days in grade school when I was afraid of balls flying at me and could not play as well as the other children. I still did not play sports very often, finding other things to do that used my mind more than my body. But when Jessica asked me to play soccer with her and her friends, I did not want to say no. I wanted her to be happy, and wanted to spend time with her, so I agreed to play soccer with them.
When the players picked their places on the soccer field, I walked to the goal and stood beside it. This was where I thought I belonged. The other players from my university never said anything. Most of them did not know who I was, standing there in blue jeans and hiking shoes when they wore shorts and running shoes. But I blocked the ball half as many times as I missed it, so that was good enough for them.
I kept coming back to play soccer with them. I am not sure why, because I have never liked sports very much. If using a computer or writing was a sport, I would be in the Olympics, but I could not run fast or play hard. I stood beside the goal. And when I was beside the goal, my worst problem was freezing in the September cold.
The fourth night I played soccer with them, one of the players named Mark turned and looked at me. Other players never really noticed me before, so seeing him turning around in the middle of the game caught my attention.
Mark said, "Run out into the field, we will get the ball to you."
I could not have been more confused if he had said it in Vietnamese. I stood there for a couple of minutes, thinking about it. He must be joking, I thought. Yes, that was it. I cannot run. I cannot kick. I can use my body like a baseball bat and hit the balls in other directions. Could I really run out into the middle of the game and do all of the exciting things that the other players did? Or would I just stay here where I was safe and quiet?