In life whatever you do you must embrace the journey.
God will bring happiness and stability in your life
Turning to God is the best thing any man can do
Every stepping stone is a great oppurtunity
Soccer has always been my way out, my way of creating my own reality, and expressing myself. From the beginning, the feeling of wanting to win and battling alongside my teammates. The feeling of always wanting to win was there from day one. Losing was something that would define my day, winning always meant everything. Soccer was just a competitive game I played on weekends up until I was 14 years old.
I remember it well, my first day of high school soccer tryouts. I had come a day late, but I had a really good tryout. I had proved that as a freshman, I was one of the best players on my school’s JV team. My first real season of soccer was a unforgettable one. Our first game against Woodcreek, was my first time being exposed to playing a team of tactical mastery. My team almost never had the ball and was watching the other team pass around and maintain possession, Before we knew it we we’re down 8 or 9 to 0. Then the moment came, where I pressed a defender who made a back pass to the keeper, the keeper lost his footing, and I smashed the ball into the net with the ball traveling into the goal regardless. Despite the fact the goal is what is described as a tap in or goalkeeping error, that was my first high school goal. We ended up losing 9-1, but getting a goal meant I got something out of it. The rest of that season was full of all losses and huge defeats, but getting that feeling of representing your school for the first time, is a feeling you never forget.
That summer was a great experience as well, getting the chance to scrimmage with a few Sac Republic players, and joining Elk Grove United. the next two seasons did not go as planned, I was hit with disappointment and failed many of my expectations. Coming into my senior year was when the switch started to finally turn, I had begun to watch and learn Cristiano Ronaldo, I had already known about the player and his achievements, but I didn’t realize how much of a inspiration the player would be to myself. Some of the biggest things I took away from Ronaldo was you got to believe in yourself and you got to work! That summer I began training and playing intense pick up games every day preparing myself. I was fired up and ready for my last season of high school soccer. That summer was my first time in my life being motivated to push myself, For a whole month straight I began doing 100+ pushups a day and began training.
The first day of Varsity tryouts I was ready, I finally showed all the players who thought I could never make it, I was better then them. My varsity coach had taken a chance on me and picked me up for the team, despite other people saying negative things about me. My start to my last season was good, I scored in our first game with my first or second touch. The ball was played to me on the left wing, I burst towards the goal, and right as my defender was closing in on me, I chipped it over the goalkeeper and scored. Never in my life have I experienced a moment where I looked back and the whole team and bench from Varsity and JV we’re running towards me and celebrating. That was one of my greatest moments in my time playing soccer, that was when I proved I could score whenever I was focused. a few game later, I scored turned a rebound miss into a goal, and once again was on top. The next few a games would shadow a very disappointing picture on my season. Coach and I would get into many disagreements over tactics, my partnership with the team, and my attitude. Coach was trying to make me a better team player and told me not to worry about goals, I felt like scoring goals and winning was all that mattered. After I was subbed out in the final minutes of one of our losses a 3-2 defeat to McClatchy High School, coach had yelled at me from the sidelines, and asked me why I didn’t cross the ball. The next thing he said would be one of the defining moments for me he said “If you just learned to be a team player, you would be a great player, you already have all the individual abilities. ” The next practice I thought about that hard and talked to one of my teammates about it. My minutes the next few games began to drop quite a bit, and I was sharing minutes with a player I knew and coach knew, I was way more effective and better then. My relationship with my teammates was quite sour from the beginning due to my past and fact I was very individual goal based.
My moment to finally get something out of a very failure ridden season for myself came against Kennedy High School, I was finally given back my spot in the starting lineup, the game did not start like I needed it to, in the first seconds of the game I was given a yellow card after pushing off a player in a 50/50 ball. I was subbed out and missed most of the first half. In the second half I began to come to life and put together a string of good runs and plays. With about 10 minutes left in a very intense physical game, Our left back kicked the ball over and I received it and launched in yards ahead of me and my defender, We began a 15 yard sprint to the ball, I originally was pushed out and into my team’s bench, I got back in and beat him to the ball and continued to run down the wing with the ball. Right before the next defender closed in on me, I crossed the ball and one of my teammates scored. After the game I had gained respect from my coach for pushing through and making a huge play for our team. The next game would be arguably my best performance for the season, I created chance after chance for my team to score. The last game of the season I had a skill show in the second half, razzling and dazzling the crowd. Heading into playoffs I was ready, I showed up to our practice before playoffs before anyone else. The bus ride to playoffs the next day was rough as a teammate had took a cleat from me and hid it causing me to make a scene, I was not mentally ready as I was angry at my teammate. I did not have a great performance and had some key turnovers, we ended up losing the game 2-1 ending our season. I was devastated and cried on my way back to the bus, that was it, that was how I went out for high school.
That next month I got to work, I began training harder then before every day and was determined to shut up all my critics. One day while doing an intense dribbling drill a man and his son watched me, after I was finished, he stopped me to talk to me. He became a great mentor and ally. One of the biggest things about him was he believed in me and valued my style of play. His first comparison to me was Neymar, in my deceptive way of dribbling defenders and ball skills. Overtime we met a African college player who became a trainer and another mentor to me. He pushed me well beyond my limits and helped me to began unlocking my physical peak. I became better and one step closer to becoming unstoppable. I began showcasing my talent and abilities every day against the top competition in the city, and showed I was the fastest and arguably the most skillful. A few months later I joined a semi-pro team and impressed in my first practice, I am now currently on the team. A 17 year old who never played for a big academy, now a rising star on a semi-pro team full of former college and experienced players.
God has brought me such along way, I was chubby, non -fast, non skillful, and uncoordinated. Through out my childhood I was cut from 4-5 teams from different sports. I remember the old varsity coach saying I didn’t have the skill or awareness to play the varsity level, and then my varsity coach saying” Do you want to be the super sub player who comes off the bench and scores a goal, or a starter and a team player.” I never gave up on myself and God took me beyond levels people told me I couldn’t reach. My journey is far from over, the next step is pro soccer in Europe, and with God and dedication I will achieve that next year.