2006.06.14 Soccer-ates

Written by David Green.

Soccer-ates

By JEFF PICKELL

In honor of the World Cup, which I’m sure few around here actually care about, I’ve decided to share three soccer-related vignettes this week. I’ve been a waxing and waning soccer fan all of my life; the amount of love I have for the sport is generally based on how much I enjoyed the last game I played in.

I imagine my love for soccer skyrocketed after we beat Mr. Neighbors’ team in the sixth grade. It was the final game of the season, and in our first match up, Mr. Neighbors’ squad had downed us 4-0 without winding themselves.

Mr. Neighbors was the coolest teacher at Highland Elementary. He played his guitar while he supervised lunch, organized nature hikes and kickball games, made up spooky stories during class camping trips, and did all sorts of other neat things.

The problem was that Mr. Neighbors was a traditional school year teacher. We were in the year-round program, so we hated his guts out. And we hated more his team—full of cheery, traditionally-schooled lads with fine hair cuts, fine smiles and sportsmanship their parents could be proud of.

I was carded for yelling at my teammates more games than not. Sean O’Rourke was famed for hawking loogies at the defense. Our coach was repeatedly reprimanded for swearing at us. He called it swearing “to” us, not “at” us, though.

Come to think of it, we were the bad guys. We deserved to lose. But I was fired up. We, the Falcons, were fired up. Probably by evil. Still, Mr. Neighbors’ boys came off the first half up 1-0, and things were looking pretty dire in the second. But this didn’t stop me from talking trash—and capitalizing on a good pass forward from midfield.

As I tore down the right sideline, I remember thinking to the defender, “You’re fast, but today, you’re not as fast as me.” When I got near the penalty box, I faked to the right, which staggered both the defender and the keeper, then sent a wobbler into the left side of the net, finishing with a favorite Calvin and Hobbes line: “Take that, you armored maggots from Mars!”

When the ref whistled goal, I screamed. At nobody in particular. I just thought it would be cool and extra cathartic to clench my fists and scream. We won the game 2-1 after O’Rourke lofted one in from beyond the box.

The next story is more bittersweet.

In seventh grade, I joined the Waterford Warriors as a right forward, but volunteered for back up goalie duties, even though I didn’t really want them. I thought I was going to get the starting forward position. I must have been smoking crack—the starter from day one was my close friend, Kevin Oakley.

However, I got the starting goalie job for the semi-final game of our first tournament—despite all his fancy gear, the original starting goalie was awful.

After the first half, I went to the sideline and took off my goalie shirt. I was angry the coach put me in the net for such an important game on such short notice. I was angry at myself for letting two goals in. I was angry because I wanted to play forward. I was stupid because I was in seventh grade.

“What are you doing?” asked the coach. “Put your shirt back on.”

“I’d rather sit on the bench than go back out there,” I replied.

“Fine,” he said.

Of all the stupid things to say to a coach.

I would call the final journal entry a return to form, but it occurs during my senior year of college and my physical form had deteriorated markedly since seventh grade.

I was again between the posts, this time for my intramural side, The Wolf. Somehow, we made it to the finals. Somehow, we made it to a shootout. I’d like to think it’s because of my net prowess, but it was mainly because my roommate and head defender, Pat Mobley, can dribble and kick, which are skills I lack.

But I can tackle, so that’s what I did.

Just before the shootout began, Ken, the resident muscle head, had misgivings about me and ordered me out of the net.

With a face of stone, I said, “No. I’ve taken us this far. I’ll bring her home.”

To my surprise, my teammates agreed with me. Talk about strengthened resolve.

We still lost, and the defeat was disappointing, but few things are more exhilarating than knowing you’ve won the faith of your teammates—finally.

– June 14, 2006
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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