Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Toughest Sorority

I just got back from an Alumni Soccer Game at USC and it was quite the experience.

I haven't been back in a few years, thanks to having babies and what-not. But I got to go this year due to the Blizzard of Crooked Creek.

I went and had a great time. It was really fun to see the current team play. It was great to be back at the Graveyard and to remember all of my days playing on the old field. And it was great to go out afterward with a few friends from the team and laugh and remember good things about playing together.

I called Matt after we left our time together and started to rehash and told him just how fun and "easy" it was to play soccer and be me finally. After all these years. I just stared crying. I couldn't figure out why except for this.

I never emotionally really dealt with how hard it really was to play soccer in college. I never had the time to. I know wah wah wah.
But it was the hardest time in my life and very few people-except for those that I played soccer with and those that I lived with really know how hard it was. I tried really hard to bear it alone. And I think that after all of these years, I am bearing the scars of that.

To give you a little picture of a day, here's a snapshot:
9:00 breakfast and classes-until 1pm
1:30-2:30 training room to get treatment and evaluated/judged by trainers to know if you have done what they have been telling you do. i.e.: determines if you are going to get yelled at by coach
2:30-3: locker room to get ready for practice
3-5: practice/torture. This could be fun. But you are going to get yelled at by coaches, trainers, teammates for the entire time. You will disappoint everyone-including your mother everytime you miss a shot, a tackle or a sprint that you are supposed to make. It calls into question if you are going to get your scholarship, if coach thinks your are good enough, if your parents are going to be disappointed in you, did everyone on the team notice that, can you make it up next time? When you a realize it and say something like "Sh$#" then you have disappointed God and then everyone on the team judges you. Good times for two hours.
5:30-6:30: weight training. This is especially fun when you are lifting weights next to people that are getting ready for the NFL combine or the Olympics. You basically feel like a weak little cheerleader in your sweet little Title9 sport. All the while getting yelled at by your weight trainer for not being serious enough.
6:30-7:30: Team meeting for Young Life. Obviously you are late and letting the team and God down again. You haven't eaten since you grabbed lunch in the middle of Psych 305. So you try to eat while planning club or having campaigners. You stink because you haven't showered and you have some bag of ice wrapped on a part of your body. You haven't processed one part of your day yet.
8pm: Study Hall. You better not be late because if you are late the whole team will have to run for your lateness and since you didn't eat with the team because you are Jesus will be even worse for you. So don't be late. But then three freshman are late by three minute. Three times three equals six laps on the track at 6am. Tomorrow. That's where you will be. You spend the next two hours trying not to hate them and instead studying Russian vocab because it was a good idea to take Russian while playing college soccer. Once more, you have disappointed God because you have failed and you hate them. No really. You do. And your Coach.

10pm: Out of study hall. Everyone is heading to a party. But not me. It's just not a great place for me to go tonight-or any night. Are they worried about going to the track at 6am? Nope. Me? YES.

Can't wait to play soccer! This scholarship is totally worth it!

Looking back it was. But that day right there-was truthfully everyday for four years. Without a break. Without much variation except for when we had games. Which were wonderful. 20 games a season. Awesome.

There is nothing-NOTHING like scoring a goal wearing your teams jersey on your field. I wouldn't trade it. But there were days when the locker room was nearly unbearable. When study hall was awful. When I did not want to board the bus for an away game because of who else was going and how hard it was going to be and how it made me feel on the inside. Like I was never good enough.

So no doubt, I never processed or dealt with it. I was floating through from one thing to next just trying to survive without getting in trouble, all day long. That was my goal. Just don't get in trouble today. Socially, athletically, academically, theologically. And I would FAIL FAIL FAIL. But if I focused on all the failures, I would be a wreck! So, I would see one or two and try to handle those then move on. It was an impossible task.

So I cried today. From being sad that I really wanted to fit in with my teammates to being awesome on the soccer field. I wanted it all to go great at college. And I LOVED COLLEGE. Which is so bizarre given how hard it was. But I really did. I just had to compartmentalize what was hard and move on.

Today, I am 31 and a mom to two kids. For some reason, it was fun. I felt finally like I could let it go and know that I am good enough. I did it. I weathered the storm. I can wear the jersey for the rest of my life and know that I did it. But every day was hard. I can't say that enough.

But was just fun. I laughed and played and stunk up that field because there was no pressure to be awesome or anything. I could just be who I am. I was comfortable with that. Finally.


Buffy said...

Leslie i am so glad you wrote that post and you had that day today. Maybe God does make snowstorms just for one person! Love you. You are a really really studly sister-in-law. I can only dream of having your legs.


Sloaner said...

That sounds a lot like my days in college: 11am, wake up and realize you missed all your classes; head for the GMP to eat for 2 hours; go to the volleyball courts for 3 hours; back home to eat butter noodles for dinner; then go try to find something to do. Whew! Exhausting!

Ed Eubanks said...

Leslie, having known you (at least peripherally) then-- and knowing a couple of other varsity athletes-- I had a sense that your life was something like this, though nothing quite like the full picture. Reading this, I'm grateful for two things:
~That college was still awesome, and that you still love playing soccer. What a testimony to your character, to your love of life, and to how God sustained you through it.

~That grace is bigger than all of that. You said, "try not to get into trouble today"-- and that's an exhausting way to live life. Too many of our good friends from college lived that way, and crashed. God's grace is so wonderfully sufficient. Our sanctification is based on our justification, not the other way around-- and look how that grace not only sustained you then, but sustains and delights you now.

Anonymous said...

You NEVER,repeat, NEVER in your life ever disappointed me. And I have always been so grateful that God chose me to be your mother. Someday I hope to completely forgive the person who I believe took my beautiful, self confident daughter and made her feel like she could not measure up.
The RiRi

Jill Rutland said...

might i also add what a terrific friend you were/are. you were/are a fantastic YL leader and i was privileged to walk along side and serve with you. you by far where one of my favorite people in cola!! i praise God for healing days and for YOU!! i have no doubt that you will hear the sweet words of our Saviour whisper to you...."well done good and faithful servant!!"
love you girl.

David and Alana Joyner said...

Is that a Freeze girl on the Left? I played with them in high school...well she was a SR. I was a Freshman!

This makes sense if it is Jennifer or Jessica, sorry for the random comment if it is not, haha!

lesliesloan said...

Thanks for all the great comments! I don't quite know what to say in response except that Ed is right. But I had to operate out of a place that someone else was in charge of how my day went (good or bad) every day for four years. My contentment with that was within my faith and the trust that I knew that God had me in His hands. But it wasn't always the easiest.

And yes Alana, that is Jessica Freas. She broke my elbow my junior year of college. Sorry Freas. Had to do it...

gooddog said...

that was amazing Leslie. nothing else I can say except it really made me think about what I may have shoved down for a few years and where God is in all of it. THANKS for your blog! heather bland