October 28, 2016
8:00 am – Leave for Incarnate Word. (11 hours until kickoff)
- Waking up was surreal. This was it. This was the day that I had seen looming on a calendar since I started playing soccer at ACU in 2013. 18 years of blood, sweat, tears, injuries, love, friendships, coaches, teammates, bus rides; everything had led to this day. I had just boarded the bus for my last game ever. My best friend sat behind me and we could barely speak to each other without getting emotional because we knew what was coming at the end of the day. All I could keep thinking about was the journey that got me to this point. From when I was four playing for the Honey Bees, until now at the age of twenty-two playing for Abilene Christian University. I invested a lot into soccer and I knew this ending was going to hard, but I knew it was going to come at some point.
12:00 pm – Stop for lunch at Subway (7 hours until kickoff)
- The infamous stop at Subway for lunch. Out of everything I knew I was going to miss from soccer….game day Subway sandwiches were not one of them. Lol
2:00 pm – Check into the hotel (5 hours until kickoff)
- Things were starting to set in a little more. This was the last hotel I was going to stay at with my entire team. This was my last night to room with my 2 best friends that soccer ever blessed me with. I was trying to take everything in, but it was all too much. I knew when I woke up the next morning, my soccer career would be over.
5:30 pm – Leave for the field (1 and a half hours until kickoff)
- Last bus ride. Last pre-game jam. Last time stepping off the bus to head into a locker room to prepare for a game. This was it. Time was closing in. This game was happening whether I wanted it to or not. The coaches gave us our last pre-game talk. We could not go on to playoffs and we had already lost our chance to get first in conference, so this game was the best opportunity to just go out and play for fun. Everyone wants their last game to go perfectly and I knew if I stressed out about it or tried to play perfect, that I was not going to get the ending I wanted. I tried to play it cool and act like it was any other game, but inside my heart was pounding. 3…..2…..1. Warm-ups were over. This was it.
7:00 pm – Game time
- I remember stepping on to the field for the last time. I remember lining up and then turning back to look at everyone else surrounding me on the field. I looked to the sidelines and saw the rest of my team. I was soaking it all in for the last time. I wanted to remember what everything looked like. This was my last time to play with these girls. Last time to play for my coaches. Last time to put on my jersey and represent ACU. This was it. I closed my eyes for a second and just took in all the sounds. The pre-game cheers. The parents cheering in the stands. Then the whistle blow. 90 minutes was all I had.
8:50 pm – The end.
- The final whistle blew. The game was over. In my mind, it was just the end of another game, until I saw Allie in tears. Wait…..this was the end of everything. In an instant, tears welled in my eyes. Walking back to the sideline, I had my 2 best friends next to my side and we were all crying with our arms around each other. That was the last time we would ever play the sport that brought us together. Then came what seemed impossible. Our fans lined the bottom of the fence, cheering us on for the last time. We turned to walk towards them to thank them and I couldn’t get my feet to move. I didn’t want to go over there because that was signifying the end. Somehow I got over there and more tears followed. I waved up to the fans for one last goodbye. Time seemed to stop. Everything fell silent. I couldn’t hear the fans anymore. I couldn’t hear what my teammates were saying. It was just me. Alone. Silent. This moment will forever be ingrained in my memory. We stayed awhile on the field greeting our parents and taking everything in for the last time. I remember turning around as I left the field and the stadium lights went out. Everything was dark. It was over. This was the end.
The only word to describe the end was bittersweet. I URGE EVERY PERSON STILL PLAYING TO READ THIS. Take in every moment because before you know it, this day is going to come for you. In the future, whether it be in 4 years or 1, your soccer career is going to be over. Don’t take one moment for granted. God blessed you with an amazing talent, so don’t waste it. Use it to its full potential. Soak everything in. The bus rides. The locker room hang outs. The practices. The games. Your coaches. Your teammates. When the lights go out, don’t be left with any regrets because you will never have this opportunity again. Make a name for yourself. Be the best player and person you can be on and off the field. When your last game does come, I hope you can remember how you got to that day. Thank your parents for everything they have done, for they did more for you on this journey that you can imagine. Soccer will always be apart of you, as it is to me, but just in a different way. Be proud of how far you have come. And at the end of the day, don’t forget to thank God for giving you more blessings through soccer than you deserve.
For me, I don’t know what to expect in this next chapter in my life, but I know all good things must come to an end. I have put my trust in Jesus that this is only the beginning for me! “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”