I don’t remember much about the process that led up to tryouts; all I know is I had reached the age where we would be placed onto teams with players that had similar skill sets.
The first thing I remembered about the season on tryouts is travelling to Lincoln to tryout for a team there. I didn’t know much about the girls that would be there, other than they had all been playing together since they first started many years ago. Talk about intimidating.
My dad heard good things about the coach of the team, and had done some looking around prior to that day. In general, I am not an overly outgoing person, so it was weird to be out of my element and thrown in to a group of people who already all knew each other. I also remember thinking I had no business being there; they were all so much better than I was.
The tryout process was over in a blur, and before I knew it we were driving from Omaha to Lincoln at least twice a week for practices; at times it was three if our games were in Lincoln as well. It was an interesting adjustment. It would be packing my bag the night before, coming home from school, quickly changing, and hitting the road. I would be eating my dinner on the car ride down, and homework there and back.
I do remember how much fun I had in those two years. Friends were made quickly, and even had some of the parents looking out for me during camps and tournaments if mine couldn’t be there. It was a new sort of family concept I hadn’t been a part of before. There were birthday parties and sleepovers, scavenger hunts and hide and seek in the hotels. The bottom line? We were able to have fun on and off the field, knowing the minute we stepped on the turf it was fun in a different way; we had to add a level of seriousness.
There is one practice that sticks out in particular. If anyone is familiar enough with soccer at a younger age, then you are aware of the game called Butts Up. I was still up shooting, and one of our coaches held up a five-dollar bill as an incentive. I lined up and took my shot. It’s safe to say I walked out of that practice five dollars richer.
One of my favorite things to do with the team was travel to tournaments. Now, we weren’t going anywhere too crazy; they all were still in the Midwest. Having not had the opportunity too much when I was younger, it was definitely an experience that I was looking forward to when the first one came around.
My favorite tournament was the Just for Girls tournament that was held in Des Moines every year. It was a way to kick off the rest of the season, and in a weirdly enough it was a fun place to play. We got play at the old Drake stadium and it was overall a fun atmosphere. Though most tournaments stayed close to home (and were sometimes just at home), they were a fun time to get out and play against other teams from different states. We also tended to dominate most of the time too. ☺
For the two years I played with this team, I received some of the best coaching and training I possibly could have had at that age. During practices, our coach implemented a very effective “punishment” if we ever took a shot that went over the crossbar. If that ever happened, we would have to step off to the side and do crunches before being able to come back on the field. My dad told me once that he has a memory that someone did that in the middle of the game! To this day, when watching other people play, I still remember that rule.
My second year with the team played to the tune of a different drum. Our coach had decided to retire from coaching, and one of the assistant coaches from the University of Nebraska team stepped in. This was a club team with some of the best players in the area; we lost a little bit of the fun aspect.
The training and the coaching were still top priorities, and we continued to do well. We were allowed some privileges to practice on campus, and get into the college games for free. Overall, he was a nice and good coach with our best interest in mind.
About halfway through the season, there was talk of moving our team over to a new club that was forming in Lincoln. When that happened, only about half of the players stayed; I was not one of them. This was a move not many parents were happy with, and I’m sure it was a hard choice to make. Leaving the team was not the easiest. Two years doesn’t seem like a long time, but I had still managed to form friendships during that time.
I would later find out that I would be back playing with a lot of my teammates from the team I played on before going to Lincoln. I also did find out, I had a couple of friends who would be coming with me; this time, they had the hour drive there and back that we had done for two years.
It doesn’t seem like much, but this really improved my skill and love for the sport, even if I didn’t know it at the time. At the time, I just loved to play.
I could write so much more on this one experience, but I will save that for another post. Otherwise this could be twice as long.