Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
I nervously wiped my sweaty palms on the thighs of my cotton fiber goalie pants. The time to prove myself and my worthiness to my team arrived. I had been anxiously waiting for this day, counting down the weeks on my calender and constantly working to get back in shape. My left hand twitched with nerves in full swing. I stepped onto the plastic indoor turf and wiggled my toes inside the long pellucid white socks, which I wore exclusively for this occasion. The rubber, beneath the replicated blades of grass, leaped onto my socks and I wryly smiled at the tickling sensation.
For such a long time. I had been longing to stand in the goalie box where someone else replaced me. A pang of self-pity settled over me in my nostalgic state every time they were assigned the position I previously played. Am I really that replaceable? I had thought. My indoor cleats, the lightest shade of blue with navy blue stripes on either side were proudly slipped on and I continued making my way to where my team stood huddled up near a stainless steel bench. They beckoned me over and I jogged the rest of the way. I acknowledged the small comfortable smiles I received upon nearing them and intently listened to the coach as he gave us a pep-talk. My stomach performed somersaults while I focused on keeping down the insufficient bites of energy bar I had for breakfast.
“Are you okay?” my two best friends worriedly asked.
I brushed them off with a nod but they quickly saw through my fib. They pestered, playfully shoving and threatening me until I gave in. “I woke up feeling horrible with jitters and its bad enough that I have all this pressure on me. Do you know what everyone else will say or think if I mess up? I can’t afford to even-”
My bestie, Hailey, rudely butted in, “You’re such a worrywart!” I mouthed her off with snarky comments about her own problems and she laughed in return, knowing I was only venting.
Kealia, on the other hand, reassured me. “Give it a rest, it’s only one game and you’ll do absolutely fine! We all make mistakes and no one will care if you move on, too.”
The ref blew his whistle signaling the beginning of the game. I tightly shut my eyelids and deeply inhaled. The sharp scent of cryogenic rubber wafted up my nostrils and oddly enough, it soothed several of my jumpy nerves. A lone tear slid down my cheek as nostalgic flashbacks clouded my mind. The break away from the opposing team. My defense too far ahead. The girl stealthily advancing dribbling the soccer ball. Her fierce glare. Her intentions clear. Huge open net behind me. My arms open. I run up. She goes for the shot. My knees bent. Her foot reeled back.
In the nick of time, I had saved the ball but left myself exposed to danger. Her shooting foot had landed on my left hand, cushioning her fall but hardening mine. I lost balance and the ball rolled a way, putting the game back in session. I jumped up to save the ball that came back again at me with full force and that’s when I noticed I couldn’t move my ring finger. It grew painful but the game had to go on. With couple minutes left till half time, I punted the ball away from me in anger to the other side. Tears had silently dripped down my face but I wouldn’t allow the cry of agony that threatened to escape my sealed lips. My team is counting on me, I grimly thought while fighting to stay determined. The buzzer buzzed and I finally fell to the ground on my knees, hastily ripping off the thick padded goalie gloves. The sight of my grotesquely swollen finger had brought more tears to my eyes and the coach and my teammates instantly rushed out crowding me. I had numbly let them help me up to my feet and lead me off the field with a blurring vision.
“Hey!” Haily called out. I snapped open my eyes, blinking away the cursed memory that was still fresh in my mind. The team we were currently going against were the same ones who were present at the time of my injury. The girl who had caused me months of physical therapy after my surgery, blatantly gave me the cold shoulder. I pushed away the boiling hatred that coursed through my veins and noticed my teammates already aligned perfectly in their positions. The vacant area around the net brought a wave of sentimental emotions, which I managed to keep hidden for four months, and I forcefully swallowed down the lump that formed at the base of my throat from worry and nervousness. I glanced down at the new pair of neon orange padded gloves and put them on. I straightened my slackened posture and a genuine smile stretched across my face. I walked over to the place that was my home on the field and stood with a newly found confidence. New gloves. New game. New beginning.