Did I ever tell you my daughter Sneezy plays soccer? I know we’ve discussed basketball and softball, but all truth be told, soccer is her game. It’s the sport that makes her smile even as she tapes her blisters, dresses turf burn, and ices deep purple bruises.
This year she’s heading into high school as a sophomore (our HS here starts with sophomores, and freshmen attend the junior high—but don’t get me started on that) and decided she wanted to try out for the JV/ varsity soccer team.
At the beginning of June, Sneezy had a large tumor (non cancerous, yay!) removed from her neck. The surgery resulted in tendon and nerve damage in her neck and face that has left portions of those areas either in pain or completely numb. As a result, Sneezy has a tough time fully rotating her shoulder (a bad deal for a keeper/goalie), and occasionally when she runs, the insides of her neck throb like they’re going to "fall out".
Within a week of her surgery, summer conditioning started. Five days a week from 8-10:00 am, players proved their dedication by showing up and working their butts off in preparation for the soccer season. Sneezy missed almost a month, and worried about falling behind. Still, she determined she had to try.
So as soon as she could, Sneezy got up early every summer morning and went to conditioning, worked extra hard, then came home and spent the rest of the day with Ice packs taped to her shoulder and neck until she stopped needing the ice, and stopped needing the painkillers, and started to catch up.
Last week was try out week, which meant two hours in the mornings and two in the afternoons, of very seriously difficult work. At the end of each day, the coaches made cuts, and only those who made it through were invited back the next day.
Monday: Sneezy didn’t get cut. But one of her best friends (who is a phenomenal player) did.
Tuesday: Sneezy didn’t get cut. But another of her best friends did.
Wednesday: Most of Sneezy’s friends got cut. But Sneezy was invited back.
Thursday: Sneezy made the team and was given not just one, but two playing positions, ensuring her playing time as both JV and Varsity.
Friday: To celebrate, the team ran five miles around the city before starting their regular workout routine. But Sneezy got both her keeper jersey, and her forward one.
Sneezy still has pain and numbness. And she’s so sad her best friends got cut. But she has dedicated herself to working hard, moving up, doing her best to be the best soccer player she can be, despite any obstacles or challenges that come her way.
We’d all do well to learn a lesson from my fifteen-year-old Sneezy. I certainly have.
**All you Utahns, don't forget to stop by the big event and say hi!