(read at her final high school varsity soccer banquet)
It seems so long ago and yet just yesterday when we held you in our arms for the first time… when you giggled at the nurse as she gave you your first shots…when your big sis, barely able to see over the bed herself, reached over very gently to give you a kiss and you smiled… when you and that same sister “danced” around the living room for hours—which really meant running around in circles and doing little kicks that would unbalance you enough to set you on your bottom…when you, age 2, and she, age 3 carried your three-week-old twin siblings–by their heads, feet dangling between your legs–to the front door because they were crying, so they “needed to go outside”…when naptime became art-time with bottles of Desitin—smeared all over every inch of your rooms and everything in it—including the two of you. When your sister was doing her kindergarten lessons, and you sat quietly through every lesson, soon learning to read by the age of 3. And from that day on, no one ever saw you without a book.
Fast forward a few years to the first time you stepped on the soccer field in 3rd grade, rather tentative at first… But while it was your sister that kicked the ball through a double-pained window and across to the other side of the house, the event seemed to awaken a fire in you as well. Suddenly, you were ready to take on anyone. And while we couldn’t get you to move faster than an inchworm OFF the field, you were quite the firefly ON it! One thing the coaches said is that you had a natural ability to figure out where the ball was going to be long before it got there. And while you were great at blocking, defending, and moving the ball down the field, coaches soon realized the incredible asset you were in the goal.
The first game with you as goalkeeper, they scored on you twice. You cried—not something we saw happen very often! After the coach called you to make sure you were okay, it seemed to set a resolve in you to make sure you never again had to deal with the feeling of the ball finding the back of the net.
It wasn’t always easy being your mom and dad, seeing you give your entire body to stopping every ball. You’d get kicked in the head, cleat marks across your temple. You’d get kicked in the ribs, hunched over, fighting for breath, and barely able to speak. Yet, when the ref came asking if you needed a break, each and every time, you gasped out “No! I’m fine!” We were always proud of your tenacity and perseverance and the way all that spunk and creativity from your early years played out in the goal. We wish we had it recorded when we overheard the other rival team’s students yell, “Holy moley, what a goalie!” after you made an amazing save.
However, with all your saves and accomplishments, the neatest thing of all for your mom and dad was this year, seeing you taking a knee in prayer with your teammates before every game. It has not necessarily been the easiest season but we have seen you grow in skill and maturity through all that you have experienced on and off the field. We are so proud of everything you have become.
Just remember, as you leave here and head out to life, always be willing to jump, dive, and come out for the ball; but through it all, PLEASE—protect your head!
Mom and Dad