Shortly into my career as the net minder for the franchise Expired Milk, I quickly became a fan favourite. There are numerous explanations for this happening: 1). People generally cheer for underdogs and we were “underneath a poodles paw” per say. 2). People pitied my inevitable ridicule. 3). People actually enjoyed seeing balls being kicked at my face (humanity is sick!) 4). People liked seeing me leaping and diving for balls, as my style of goaltending is “interesting”. 5). The crowd was actually a select few individuals who could be as noisy as they wanted to be without being written up. 6). Insert personal opinion here.
Now, I shall let you pick the option that you feel led to believe. However, I will build on two of those choices: Numbers three and four. Hopefully this will add to my story without taking away from the point that I hope to get to at the end of all of this.
Part of my reasoning for number three is that my face has had many opportunities to have itself rearranged by the soccer ball. These unwanted services always is the result of someone who was talented, and, as a result, had a kick that would hum as it passed you. Have you ever seen a ball break the sound barrier? I have seen it on a few different occasions; oddly enough, most of those times I have had an intense burning in the general area of my head. Anyways, from my first week playing net to the more recent weeks I have had a target on my face. Forget the gaping iron and mesh contraption behind me, personal points are scored for ringing one off of my moneymaker. I have the honor of being hit in the face by Matt Thiessen, Ivan Desharnais and Lindsay Anderson. I also got hit in the chin my some kid named Luke the other week, but I managed to stay conscious. If you know anything about the first three of the players I mentioned you would know that they are all somewhat talented and can pick corners easily. My question to them is, “Why my flippin’ face!?”
The explanation to option four is simple: I played too much floor hockey and was clueless for the different stances you needed for soccer. Oh sure I was good down low and shocked people with my flexibility, but I was nearly useless up high. To compensate for my utter lack of positioning and my teams low scoring I became an entertainer to help give us a boost of energy. I often would leap in the air to save a simple shot, contort my body and flop around on the ground like a pretzel having seizures or run the ball up the court and use my mad moves to stun the opposition (you have to see it to believe it). These self-sacrificing moves could get the crowd into the game or repulse them, along with getting me hurt.
The most memorable experience of my facial injuries came in my first ever week of playing net. We were playing the formidable I.T. United in one of the many mismatched games that season and it showed. I was doing a decent job playing the gruelling job, and my defence was clogged up in front of me. I was sitting on my knees in front of the net and was waiting to see the ball pop out of the fray. I mean seriously, how can you see a ball when there are seven bodies in front of you all kicking and screaming? I think the correct answer in you can’t. So this fray was making me edgy, as the ball tends to squirt out and somehow it always ends up on foot of one of their players. This was no different than any of these times, as the ball squirted out and it headed straight to the man I didn’t want to see before my life flashed before my eyes: Matthew Thiessen.
Now imagine your in my position: A wall of pink and red jerseys in front of you while you are bobbing your head everywhere trying to find the ball. Then, silently and smoothly, the solid wall in front of you parts like the Red Sea and you have a clear view of the ball. Matt Thiessen is running to the ball. Everyone is watching him run towards the ball. The world is silent and in slow motion, stunningly gorgeous in my opinion. Well, I mean that was until Matt struck the ball and the world shattered into its fallen state once more. The ball, moving at about three thousand miles an hour, hit me square in the face and mashed my nose into my spine. My glasses, which couldn’t be supported without my nose, leapt off of my face into the netting in the back of the yawning cage. I collapsed backwards with fireworks bursting around my face and no clue with what was going on with the outside world. I opened my eyes moments after realizing that I still alive and not going home to see my new house in heaven. Turns out that the ball went straight in the air and was bouncing in the crease before one of my teammates grabbed it to stop play. I lived, although I am probably suffering from severe brain damage.
Now, I have been hurt playing soccer. I have often been asked how I haven’t hurt myself with some of the awkward moves I somehow ended up in by my net. To this question I simply answer “Ah, but I have injured myself.” It’s not just soccer balls and shoes that have hurt me, but my own self. In fact I harmed myself so bad I thought my soccer career so all but over…let me explain with more depth and meaning.
I had a bad back coming to school as a result of a summer mishap involving a house beam and myself. In fact, this was the excuse that I used to get myself out of being suckered into playing outdoor soccer that year…I was grown up enough this year to make the decision this year. Anyways, I thought it had healed enough when I signed up for indoor soccer and this turned out to be a bittersweet thing for me. I suffered immensely throughout the soccer season, sometimes having to lie flat on the hard floor to breathe. I tried to play through this pain, but I missed numerous games as a result of the issue. My problem? I had dislocated ribs, or so the chiropractor that I went to told me (I have no question that it was, as the chiropractor is an elder at a local church). I didn’t get to play PAC soccer as a result of my injury, but I did find out was wrong with me, which I probably wouldn’t have done if I didn’t play soccer. So, as I said before, it was a bittersweet victory to play last year. Again, soccer isn’t all glory, but it can pay off. So kids, get checked out at a local medical professional if you are hurting before playing soccer!