Friday, October 3, 2014

Family Friday: Hanging in There

When I was a freshman in high school, my sister and I decided to join the soccer team. At the time we joined, there were A LOT of girls on the team. My sister (who was a year older) and I, both made the team.

I love soccer.
The practices were super-intensive. We ran a lot, alternating between sprinting and jogging. By the end of the training, I was probably in the best shape of my life.

However, because there were so many talented girls, and quite a few of them were seniors, I ended up riding the bench quite a bit. For the first two games, I don't think I even got to play at all. That was very frustrating for me.

I'd played basketball for the past two years, and I rode the bench quite a bit in that sport, but I knew I wasn't that good at basketball, so that didn't bother me. However, I LOVED soccer, and it was difficult for me to just sit on the bench when I just knew I could make a difference.

It was so challenging for me, that after the first two games I really began to wonder if I could spend the whole year on the bench. It made me want to cry with frustration and I talked to my mother about quitting.

She and my father told me to hang in there. They said that being part of a team often meant that you didn't always get to play, but they reminded me that I was a freshman, and I still had four years to go. If I could just endure and not quit, I would be given the opportunity to play. It was important to be there to support the teammates who were playing and show the coaches that you were dedicated enough to keep coming.

I decided not to quit the team.

Shortly after that, I began to get more playing time. In fact, in many cases I was playing nearly the entire game. Many of my friends (and sometimes my sister), continued to ride the bench. I always really admired them, because I never heard them complain about not playing. They never quit. They came to every game and eagerly played when they were given the opportunity.

I look back on those feelings that I had, and I feel like a real pansy. Yes, I loved soccer, but I don't think I struggled any more than any of the other girls. I was really blessed to be given the opportunity to play, and I think when it occurred I kind of took it for granted. That year we ended up going to state and placing third! I was able to play in the state games, and I really enjoyed myself.

After my freshman year, the number of girls dropped dramatically. We barely had enough for a full team. We usually got to play the entire game.

I often think about what would have happened if I had quit. I wouldn't have been able to play at all, and it would have set a bad precedent for my life. Maybe I would have learned to quit when things got tough.

As it is, I've learned that if you hang in there, things will get better.

Everyone has challenges, but if we stop when things get difficult, we will often miss out on the best experiences of our lives. Sometimes, because we struggle, it makes overcoming those challenges that much sweeter.

I loved playing soccer in high school and I think back on my teammates with fondness. I have a special place in my heart for those girls who sat on the bench my freshman year.

They did what I don't know if I would have been able to do.

So, whatever your situation, hang in there. It WILL get better.

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