Thursday, September 12, 2013

All boxed up

September 12, 2013

My grandson, Jayden, is in high school now. I am very proud of that young man.  I know that I am biased but there are many things of his character that make me feel that he will be a good man.  He is kind, thoughtful, and caring.  Those are all traits that don't just happen.  They are also very good foundations of manhood.
Where he hated middle school, he seems to take his new adventure in high school pretty well.  And his first big test in it is coming in be exact, soccer.  Both Carrie and I encouraged him to take soccer to stay in shape for his favorite sport, Lacrosse.
In his last Lacrosse team, his coach tried him out in a new position, Goalie. Jay hated it.  For many reasons, actually.  But probably the biggest being pressure.  Jay is a quiet young man.  And goalie is the highest pressure position on the team.  When the other team would score on him, he would take it all on his shoulders and he began to not enjoy the sport.
He tried out and made the JV2 soccer team at Summit High.  He enjoys the team and knows many of the players which helped him smooth out his first few days of school.  Because he is so quiet, he sometimes struggles with first days of anything new but his transition to high school seemed to be going off without a hitch.
His first game was last Saturday at Summit against a bigger 6A team, Central Catholic.  Judy and I walked out on the field after the game had already started.  I looked and looked but could not find him on the field anywhere.  That is because I was looking at the wrong place.  He was in the box......goalie.
Knowing how he feels about that position, my heart went out to him immediately.  I spotted Carrie who was over close to him and walked to her side.  She had no idea what was going on also and I could feel the anger and fear in her voice knowing that he hated the position so.
We watched as the team lost 5-1.  We found out later that the coach had asked for volunteers and one of the other boys had stated that Jay had played goalie in Lacrosse so the coach volunteered him.  Jay did what any good teammate should do.....go where the coach tells him to go.
Now, since the varsity team had lost 4-2 and they had a seasoned goalie, we all told him to keep his head up.  Other parents who realized on the sidelines acknowledged his effort also.
So, as I drove him to his game yesterday, we talked about his day....and his upcoming sporting event.  I told him if he knew where he would be playing.  "The coach has been playing me in goal.", he said.  When I asked him if he had told the coach that he did not like the position, he quickly said yes, but he was trying to be a good teammate and go where the coach wanted him to go.
We talked of how some of the other players handled him being in the box since he is not normally there and would have obvious rusty parts of his game.  He admitted that some of them had yelled at in particular.....a junior.
"That one is easy, Jay", I stated, "just remind him that he is a junior on the freshman team.".  Jay laughed and told me that when the guy starts his criticism others have made that same statement.  I told him to offer the others to take his place in the box.  He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.  I could see something that I knew oh so well.  Like any other young man in high school, he wanted more than anything else to be accepted.
"Just play your hardest and you will be fine.", I encouraged as he stepped out of the car.  "I will", he said as he sauntered away towards his teammates.
So, you can imagine how happy I was when I got to the game and found someone else in the box and Jay playing his chosen position, forward.
His team went quickly behind by one but then forged on.  By the middle of the second half, they had secured a 3-1 lead.  I watched and wondered what was going on as the coach subbed out but left Jay on the bench.  And then, I saw why as he subbed Jay goalie.
Now I had been watching the Mountain View team and especially this little player who was quite skillful.  I watched him dribble around many of our players but by brute numbers they had kept him away from the box.
But at the same time that coach put Jay in the box, the Mountain View coach moved his player from midfield to forward.  His first shot on goal was a high arching shot that sailed over the top of Jay.  He had caught Jay just out of the box and it sailed straight in.  If Jay had been further back, he might have been able to stop the shot but only by deflecting it.  I heard at least one of his teammates chide him for being to far forward.
His shoulders dropped as he assumed his position and made ready to defend the next charge.  And he did not have to wait long for it.
Like a slowed down movie, I could see it all unfolding right in front of me.  The young Mountain View player got the break away that he was looking for.  Jay positioned himself, making ready to block the upcoming shot and defend his goal.  His positioning seemed perfect....but so was the shot.   The player popped it over Jay's head, just out of his reach.  As it came back down, it caught the top of the goal and bounced downwards and in.  No goalie, no matter how seasoned could have blocked it.
Seconds later, the final whistle was sounded and I watched as he walked back over to the bench....the final score.....3-3.
As the team jogged over to take their bow, I could see it in his face.  He was taking responsibility and was unhappy.  My heart reached out to him but all I could do was watch.
As the team walked across the field, he walked alone.  The disappointment was evident.  I met him part way and we stopped and looked at one another.  I could see it engraved in his face.
"You did a great job out there, son.  And don't you let anyone tell you any different.".  "Thanks Papa.", he shrugged as he walked on off of the field.
I know that adversity builds character but it can also break spirit.  The path is his to take, not mine.  I am merely just another one of his coaches in his game called life.

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