I will never forget my first game with the Germantown High School Red Devil varsity soccer team. At the time, I was a freshman and looking to prove myself as a formidable player that could be useful on the team as a speedy midfielder. I remember anticipating my debut for the two long, painful months of conditioning (which whipped me into shape faster than anything I could have imagined thanks to Coach Ted), and then the constant fight to shine at practices. All in all, the hard work that I put in preseason prepared me for what was about to come.
The moment had finally arrived; the first game of my freshman year of high school, we played Saint George’s at their home field. To me, the open field was larger than the Greek Pantheon, and the crowd of roughly 50 people was a raging storm of spectators. During our warm-ups, I was trembling all over, but I remember reminding myself to just calm down and play my game when the coach put me in. Knowing that the opposition would be one of the toughest we would play all year, I knocked myself into the focused and driven mindset that Coach had drilled into us from day one.
While I was not in the starting lineup for the game (which was a major blow to my moral), the coach soon put me in after they beamed one into our goal because the starting midfielder had left his man unmarked at the top of the box. This was it; I ran out onto the field and immediately my mind was ablaze, and I played like an old pro given new legs. Joy and thrill coursed through my body, and our team as a whole began to link up like never before. It was during one of our beautiful plays, however, that I realized how drained of stamina I was, and this was a problem because I’m a type 1 diabetic. Wanting to play on, I didn’t inform the coach, but by the end of the first half I was physically drained. Sadly, I let the coach know that I would not be able to play in the second half, and he solemnly acknowledged me and told the starter he was going back in.
In the end, we had an unfortunate loss. While I cannot say that we would have won if I had continued to play, and my team had kept its spirit, I will say that our coach was not disappointed by it but was, in fact, thrilled by our outstanding performance. His post-game assessment put a grin on our forlorn faces and encouraged us all to be proud of how we had come together as a team. He specifically congratulated me and told me never to play if my health was ever in concern and also told me that I should expect to start in a lot more games in the future. That was a conversation I will always treasure.