Sitting in between two posts is one of the loneliest moments accompanied by relief. This is not my preferred placement on the court; I would much rather be with the swarm on the other side. The current complication is no longer in my realm, but I am facing it. It could return at any instance. When it does, my adrenaline starts pumping, my heart racing. He comes towards me, entering my territory. I confront the invader. Turning my chair sideways, he drives the ball towards me, never ceasing. The only thing on my mind is defense. Concentrating on the ball continuously being pushed into the side of my wheelchair, I do not realize what is happening until my side hits the ground. All I know is that I stopped him from scoring a goal.
I used to relish playing goalkeeper on my power soccer team, the Piranhas. My coach nicknamed me “the wall” because nothing got past me. Playing goalie is extremely stressful. When the other team scores against me, I automatically blame myself for our team’s loss, even if there is another defender. After my chair tipped over during that game, I became an even more fearful athlete than I already was as a shy ten-year old. I stopped taking risks, and I retreated into my shell more often. Unrelated to my timidity, our team started to fall apart. Our father-like coach quit, and we received training under the authority of a stranger. Skilled teammates and friends of mine moved away or stopped coming to practice. Overwhelmed with outside activities, I quit soccer myself. Soccer is exceptionally important to me, but I had other obligations to fulfill. Eventually the Piranhas took a break.
Without playing soccer, I did not have a small community of people I could relate to and share a passion with. My weekends no longer consisted of practicing with friends. I did not have a skill I could share with people anymore that they had never heard of. I could not invite my friends to practices or games. I still remained in my shell. After almost two years of not playing soccer, the Piranhas came back together with our original coach, yet two of our previous members had passed away and others chose to not return. Coming back to soccer I was still shy. I had to adapt to a different wheelchair to play in and learn new abilities that other advanced players on the team had already conquered years before me. I was completely out of practice; I felt like a new player learning soccer for the first time.
The skills I had to learn are called spin kicks. There are ninety degree spin kicks completed by turning your chair to side and swinging it in a ninety degree angle to hit the ball. This is simple enough and quickly mastered. The other is a full spin kick. For example, while the ball is rolling to my side, I roll backwards parallel to the direction of the ball, swing my chair in a full circle to the left and “kick” the ball coming up on the other side. This ensures the ball will travel further, with more force, and more speed. At first I would swing in circles and miss ball after ball. I would hit some random ones with luck. Eventually I starting missing by shorter margins. I began to return balls to the sender. I was able to pass them back and forth between a teammate using spin kicks.
Not only did I absorb new soccer moves, but I started playing forward instead of goalie. I grew more confident as I was no longer defending our goal box; I became the one scoring goals, with the assistance of other teammates. During scrimmages at practice, the team I was on won the game week after week, scoring more and more goals. At various tournaments I became the main scorer for our team. Being a forward gives me the opportunity to be more aggressive as I am actively waiting for passes or driving the ball towards the other team’s goal. I am no longer overwhelmed by the stress of someone scoring on me and blaming myself. Every once in a while I return to play goalie or defender, yet I am no longer the timid ten-year old scared of being tipped over. I am a more competitive athlete who scores a decent amount of goals on the Piranhas team as a forward.