"Do these look right?" I had to ask junior Katie Breen after strapping plastic plates to my shins. They're known to soccer players as "shin guards," but to anyone else they are sweaty, protective and definitely a bit on the uncomfortable side. The next hour and thirty minutes of my life I would experience what it's like to be a Lady Mustang soccer player.
After trying to figure out the complicated apparatus of the shin guards, I traveled down to the field in bright green shorts and blue tie-dye socks. I thought it would be like other sports where everyone wears what they want, but to my surprise everyone matched. Despite my effort to blend in, I stuck out like a sore thumb; this was my welcome to soccer.
"You picked a good a day to come," remarked Coach Jennifer Parsons. Everyone said they would be running for punishment-- they had to run for as long as they were late.
"Ladies do you know how late you were yesterday?" asked Parsons. A couple numbers were thrown out, but the official time ended up being eight minutes.
"You'll be running figure eights," specified assistant coach Allison Moriarty.
Figure eights consisted of sprinting and jogging, but after two it was changed to sprinting and back peddling. My calves were burning and the sprinting became more and more difficult. All I could think about was the scrimmage I had late that night. After a few minutes of running I let the scrimmage go, and put in 110 percent just as I would with any team of which I would be a member.
"Wrestling mania" came after figure eights, and the goal of "wrestling mania" was to push an opponent out of the box. The coaches got the team pumped by telling them "this is Clarke" and other things that got them fired up.
I loved that the coaches fired-up the team and pushed them to give a one hundred percent even though they were exhausted and lacked strength. "Wrestling mania" was a different kind of physical work than the figure eights. It worked a lot with upper body strength, but was just as tiring as the figure eights.
The physical aspect of practice was exceedingly hard, and I was surprised at how natural the physical part came; but what is soccer practice without a soccer ball? After punishment, the team worked on drills trying to get better at what they had messed up on at their scrimmage.
"Have you ever played soccer?" Violet Miller asked me and to be brutally honest, the answer was "only in P.E."
We worked on shooting for the first drill and when Coach Parsons was describing the drill, it sounded like a totally different language. While the drill was going on, I kind of got the hang of soccer and even though I only touched the ball twice, I felt as though soccer and I could get along.
Prior to my soccer practice, I had disliked soccer, seeing it as a sport where the ball is continually kicked up field then deflected and kicked to the other side of the field, but soccer is actually really complex.
I couldn't do half the stuff the girls were doing. Kicking a ball is one thing, but how you kick it is another thing. There are so many positions on the field, there are different ways to kick a ball, there are tons of different ways to get in front of people and, it is really a team sport.
Some of the things I learned in soccer even helped me at my scrimmage, such as do whatever you can to get away from a defender. Overall I would say that the girls on the team are extremely welcoming and helpful, and they definitely know the definition of working hard. Not one player is afraid of a challenge.
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