The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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“Is this how you do it?” A non-athlete’s soccer journey

Is+this+how+you+do+it%3F+A+non-athlete%E2%80%99s+soccer+journey
Ruby S.

You’re never going to believe what I did a couple weeks ago. I can barely believe it myself. I tried out for the middle school soccer team. It was definitely a spur of the moment thing. I had heard the tryouts were happening after school and, hoping to get a sense of what middle school sports are like and to move my body, I thought I’d give it a shot. 

I showed up to tryouts in the only remotely athletic thing I own—a worn out pair of black converse and undershorts. Of course, I played terribly, which isn’t much of a shock since I’ve never really played soccer or any sport for that matter. Plus I’m the complete opposite of an athlete.   

Secretly, I was kind of hoping I would discover a hidden soccer talent or proclivity to running drills. That didn’t happen. What did happen was that when we were told to run for eight minutes, I kept having to switch between jogging and walking. That was just the warm-up.

After my walking/warm-up,  the coach had us trial scrimmage. I told myself that I needed to get in on the actual playing, so I ran up to the ball and tried to defend a player on the other side.

 

The other player kicked the ball up, and as it fell back down to the field in cinematic  slow motion, instead of kicking the ball or bumping it with my chest, I instinctively lifted my hands above my head and set the soccer ball like I was playing a game of volleyball. 

The coach blew the whistle just as I realized what I had done. The shame that rushed through my body was unlike any embarrassment I have ever felt. I’m pretty sure I flushed red—not that you’d notice since I was already red and winded from all the running.  Making one such elementary error was embarrassing enough at tryouts, but I had a sinking feeling it would not be my last. 

The next day at lunch before our first practice, I snuck away from my friends and slipped into the single stall bathroom by the gym and did the only thing I knew would help: I called my mom. 

“Mom, I don’t want to go to practice. I’m terrible, and all I’m going to do is look dumb,” I whispered.

“Ruby,” she said, “if soccer doesn’t make you happy, that’s one thing, and we can talk about it when you get home. But I think you are just torturing yourself about looking dumb. You should just get out on the field, have some fun, learn a couple of new things, move your body, and most importantly not care if you’re looking stupid, or making rookie mistakes. Rookie mistakes are bound to happen because you are a rookie, and that’s okay.”

I knew she was right. I took a deep breath and managed to return to lunch. 3:30 came all too quickly. I slipped on my brand new pair of hot pink cleats over the newly-formed blisters on my heels and shoved my shin guards down my socks. My mom’s encouraging words echoed in my head during each step, each kick, and each mistake. “Get out on the field, have some fun, learn some things, move your body, and don’t care if you look stupid.”

And boy were there plenty of mistakes. On the first day of practice during a warm-up drill with the A team, I could barely follow the order of operation.

The coach ended up having to guide me through the field calling out things like: “Okay, now go to the right!” “Shoot the ball!” “Cross diagonally!” I frantically attempted to follow the  directions, in what must have looked like a marionette puppet caught in its own strings.

I’d like to think that after I mustered up the courage on that first day, that the fear and dread would subside.  

However,  that was most definitely not the case. Every day for the first week it was hard to go to practice, hard to get ready for our scrimmages, and 

hard to make those mistakes so publicly in front of my teammates.

But every time I dreaded practice,  with all of the power in me I just replayed my mom’s voice telling me that I was there to learn and have fun—not to be perfect. 

Eventually my mother’s words turned into my own voice encouraging myself and my teammates to not dwell on the little mistakes or the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve of each move. By our final game, after all of my big or small mistakes, instead of being upset with myself or getting embarrassed. I just kept going for the ball and focusing on the game and why I was there–which was to learn and not to be perfect.

In soccer we usually celebrate the person who scores the goal. They get all the glory—but for every goal, there is a midfielder who stole the ball from the other team and passed to the striker, or a great defender who kicked the ball all the way across the field. Team work makes the dream work, or so I’ve heard.  

For me, playing on a team meant supporting others, cheering them on, and offering positive encouragement. But I realized that I also had a team of my own. I could not have scored the goal of playing soccer without my mom’s mini pep talks before, after, and sometimes during practices or games. She made the assists that got me to stop being so embarrassed of myself. 

Like I said, I’m trying my best to ignore that loud part of my brain screaming at me to feel embarrassed, but it’s incredibly hard. I have always been one to care a lot more than I should about what other people think of me, and I’m working hard to change my mindset. That’s the real reason I tried out. My mom reminded me of reasons to stay on the team.  

Now when playing soccer, I definitely haven’t stopped making mistakes, but I have stopped getting so fixated on them. I have found room within myself to be bad at things, and to learn in the process. 

So, Catch Number 29 on the field, I’ll be the one dying from embarrassment but having fun while doing it.

 

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Ruby S., Lower/Middle School Staff

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    Ellie GallagherFeb 14, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    This is so good!!!

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  • E

    Ella BiluFeb 13, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    Great article, Ruby! Hope to see you play JV soccer in Upper School. It’s fun.

    Reply