Back in December, I signed up to play indoor soccer at the MAC. On Monday afternoon, I got the email that the first game of the season would be Tuesday night. Monday night, while trying to avoid stepping on a very twitchy and indecisive cat, I managed to kick a planter in our front hallway and do some serious damage to a toe. So come Tuesday, with all the snow, I was hoping the game would be postponed. No such luck.
So I headed off into the wintry weather to play soccer on a freshly injured toe. I’d done some research about how to handle such a situation, and got some good advice on taping, to keep my toe from killing me, and to keep from injuring it more. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put on any of my soccer shoes with my foot all swollen and my toes wrapped. So I’d have to play in my ancient skate shoes with the tread worn down to slick. Fantastic.
I was nervous beyond belief. As the girls started arriving, it was obvious they all knew each other and had been playing together the previous season. And they all had the same colored shirts: one team orange, one blue. The turf at the MAC isn’t like Stankowski at all, it’s really truly artificial grass. So most of the girls were wearing cleats.
So there I was, in my gray Shakespeare’s t-shirt and crusty skate shoes, with a broken toe. I got even more nervous. I got assigned to the team with fewer players, and was immediately tossed into the game. Once I started playing, I couldn’t even feel my wounded foot. It was just like the old days. Crazy.
I haven’t played regularly since high school (11 years ago now), and the last time I played anything resembling a game of soccer was 5 years ago in Camalote, Honduras. So I was super surprised to find myself falling into the flow of the game fairly easily.
I didn’t play amazingly well, but well enough. I got plenty of touches on the ball, and surprised myself with a few aggressive challenges. I was a little wary about getting too aggressive in close quarters, because even though I was able to ignore my injured foot, I was aware of it and didn’t want to get it kicked or stepped on. I was able to do some decent passing, assisting with a shot on goal that was, sadly, saved by the goalie.
I learned a thing or two about indoor soccer. The biggest being: I LOVE the boards. It’s like hockey. You can run someone up against the boards and battle for the ball. Awesome. Also, if you’re pressed against the boards & can’t clear the ball one direction, a well placed shot at the wall might get it around that annoying defender for you.
There were eight girls on the team, and only six on the field at a time – the number I was used to from my tiny high school team. so we subbed frequently to let girls catch their breath and let other girls on – something I was NOT used to, but was grateful for.
I ended up playing midfield at one point, which I’m apparently not so good at. I never had any idea where I was supposed to be at any given moment, and the more vocal members of my team were always asking me where I was and telling me where I needed to be (which never made any sense to me given how the play was going). I’m a lousy shot when it comes to actually putting the ball in the net, but I still feel most comfortable in front. I AM pretty decent at getting the ball up and passing to someone who can take a shot, so maybe I’m not totally useless.
Most of the girls were not super intimidating. But there were a few that were scary to challenge. One of them took me down, but it wasn’t too bad. I was surprised again that I didn’t freak out, just jumped back up and kept going. Found fake grass in my shinguards later, kind of like the good old days.
All in all, I felt relatively comfortable. My vague memories of playing crappy soccer in high school apparently don’t do justice to the actual impact it apparently had on me. My brain knew what to do, my body knew what to do, even if I couldn’t always follow through with that knowledge.
I was glad for the week I’d spent at the ARC before this game. Even just one week of conditioning left me so much better prepared. Granted, I was glad to take subs when offered. I played a lot the first half, but spent more time on the bench in the second.
The pizza and Pokey sticks I’d had for lunch started to feel like a rock in my stomach after about 40 minutes, and after half-time, I started to feel my toe throbbing, and found it harder and harder to ignore The air in the MAC was cold and dry, and I hadn’t brought enough water. So I was trashed by the end. But I came out hard after each sub, and gave it my best.
By next week, hopefully my toe will be much improved and I’ll be able to wear my cleats. My skate shoes weren’t terrible, but the floor outside of the field was wet. So each time I subbed out, I’d have wet shoes when I came back on. I think I’ll be able to maneuver better with cleats.
I’m also going to try to do more sprinting during my training sessions at the ARC. The constant sprint, turn, sprint, stop, sprint stuff was torturous on my lungs, especially in the second half. My legs felt pretty good though, and even today I don’t feel terribly sore.
All in all, I’m glad I signed up. I think it’s going to be fun. The team I played with last night (the Cougars) might not be my permanent team, so hopefully once I’m assigned to a team, I can get to know my teammates – not to mention show up in the right color shirt!
P.S. My team did win. Not sure of the final score. Maybe 5-2?
And for your amusement, some pictures of my high school soccer team. I present to you, The Central Visual and Performing Arts Lady Eagles…