I’m skipping the advice this week cause this SWUG needs to vent. (Sorry?)
Break-up season is upon us. It’s the inevitable time in senior year where people must leave behind what they love most. This decision is (usually) never mutual. It’s a heart breaking loss to realize that the things you love can come to an end. It’s time to move on, to grow up, to be independent. It’s time to try new things, explore new things, be new things. It’s time to let go of what was once most important, and to learn to be on your own. It’s time to remember all of the great times and all of the hard times. It’s time to start on the path to acceptance, starting with denial: How could something so great actually come to an end? It’s time to cry, and to reflect and to remember.
Of course, I am talking about the inevitable time when a sports season comes to an end.
Soccer was my first love, from when I was the ripe age of four (he was much older than me). From recreation leagues, to competitive travel teams, to the joy that is high school athletics, to finally playing in the NESCAC, this love has been long-standing and consistent. Sure, there were times when we took breaks. Every relationship needs some space, who wouldn’t when you’ve been with someone (or thing) for over 18 years? But you never forget your first love, and my friend Sheryl told me that the first cut is the deepest.
Never again will I put on that baby blue uniform and play for the school that I probably wouldn’t have gotten into without my sport. Gone are the days of having a reason to not go out, to stay dry and to keep in shape. Gone are the days of tailgate feasts, free home-cooked food and meal money. Gone are the days of getting my laundry done for me, of free physical therapy and lots of free grey t-shirts. But I have to say, thank god I’ll never have to take an ice bath again, or play soccer in the snow, or run a 300 yard sprint … unless I want to.
Some relationships end in NESCAC Championships or National Championships, but most end in disappointment and “there’s always next year.” Some flirt with the idea of getting back together with bids for the NCAA tournament, and others know that its over forever. “We can always be friends,” they say. “You’ll play in adult leagues,” they say. “You can always kick a ball around,” they say. I say no. It’s not the same. Playing competitive college soccer (or any college sport) is like being in a committed relationship. Ending that sport feels worse than any breakup I’ve been through so far, but surprisingly has involved the same amount of shopping and candy.
After being in a committed relationship for 18 years, all good things must come to an end. But it leaves me asking myself, “who am I?” and “what do I do with all of this free time?” and “can I still wear workout clothes every day to class?” Sure, there will be other loves, other passions and other hobbies, but none will shape my identity like soccer did. “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” they say. That may be true in the end, but I’m still holding on hope for my invitation to the next World Cup, or at least the Maccabi Games.