A different type of family

“Seventy-five and back!”

Do not hesitate, just react. You have done this before. Push off your hands, stand up! One foot over the other, look straight ahead. Your destination is the seventy-five yard line for the time being. When you get there, you have a new destination; back to your starting point. Just keep up, don’t trip, and definitely don’t let your knee give out. Finish first and lay back down on your stomach, hands behind your back, face in the grass. You wouldn’t want to cheat.

“Fifty and back.”

Do not give up, Annie. You could just tell the team that your knee cannot take another sprint, the brace in getting loose, but don’t you dare do that, you are better than that.

“End line and back.”

Another long one. Maybe a twenty-five yard line sprint would be nice just once. You should just quit, you don’t need to go through this. Why should we be punished this way for losing just one game? One little goal scored on us and this is what happens? It’s not like you could even play. You just sat there watching your team from the sideline making mistake after mistake, minute after minute until the final whistle blew. It was over and now you are paying. Everyone else is at the football game. It is Homecoming and your classmates are sitting under the Friday night lights. You could be one of them, you know. Do you hear the band playing? Do you hear the crowds cheering? All those happy people are right up there on the field, undoubtedly not sweaty and tired, certainly not muddy and out of breath. No, you do not need this. Walk away. Say “goodbye Coach, goodbye team, I do not need this.”

“Fifty and back!”

Actually, you do need this. You just had a temporary mental breakdown, a momentary lapse in judgment. This team, this family, this punishment, West Essex Field Hockey is all you know. You do need this. Coach does this for a reason, to make us better. We do need to play as a team and this is how we learn. We learn by being broken down as individuals so we realize we need each other to build back up again. She is right again; this is how we are taught a lesson.

“End line and back!”

There is more there, Annie, you have more left inside of you. No, you are not dying, get a grip. This is what she means when she tells us to give it our all every second we are given. We should have just done that from the start. We are winners. We are state champions. How could we let ourselves down like that? We are not losers.

“Seventy-five and back!”

These girls running beside you are the best friends that you will ever have. You are all in this together. They are with you now and will be with you forever, they will run with you forever. Black, white, and red are the only colors in your world. Your school, your team, and your coach who treats you as she does her own children, are all you have right now. Remember that.

“Go home.”

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