"Mom, MomM! Pleaseee?!"
I'm not exactly sure what culmination of factors went into my desperate plea & elevated levels of excitement, but here we were. Second floor of our local public library, where a handful of 3rd graders sat with a smattering of parents. It was in the moments just before, where I had realized my 10 year old's dream of glory/battle, was seemingly doomed before it could begin. The nice lady who smelled good just finished telling everyone how we could join her super-cool soccer league. All that's needed now is a dad to volunteer. I know my dad's out. Small businessman, busy, & quite frankly, he's there 'cause he drove. I did throw a glance his way, the scoff, crossed arms, along with his "me so busy speech" on the way there, had him a long-shot at best. A quick survey of the room & my worst fears were coming true. Every father had taken up my dad's defiant posture. We sat in the middle of the front row, could my dad be leading this insurrection?! Quick thinking, along with a degree of desperation spurned me, one my youth hadn't known since, well the last time I was youthfully desperate for something.
Red bike, banana seat w/flames, trust me, very sweet. Moving on.
So I did what has worked for multitudes of children over the ages, I begged my mother to intervene.
Then, upon my second plea, she did something that even I could not have expected. Something glorious. My Mother raised her hand. Amidst the grumbling, posturing, pompous men she raised her freakin' hand! I sat there, in a mixed state of awe/fear, thinking "holy crap, is she?! NO, surely just a question...but?" of this I knew, in that moment, just before she spoke, I prayed. Let me have this. Soccer. I know it'll be fun. I want it. Maybe the few games I'd seen in person had a greater impact than remembered, or the seeds planted watching Pele via t.v. ( though if you'd ask those who took me, they'll tell you I saw the Cosmos, so long ago & so few times I personally can't recall ). Whatever the reasons, I had a belief, I needed this, strong as the Red bike. Dam that was sweet. A supernatural faith if you will, that this was my destiny. Once called upon I awaited my mothers response with bated breath. Somewhere between my fathers posture, a room full of mutinous strangers & a fair bit of not so shameless begging, she uttered three melodious words "I'll do it." So perplexed by this simple statement the nice lady from the league who smelled good, asked my mother to repeat her question. To which she replied "Not a question, I'll do it. I'll coach." That's when pandemonium broke out. Us kids, gleeful, the parents skeptical. I heard half a gargle about women coaches around the time my mom stood up. She flatly stated "Since no man here has volunteered I do. Is that acceptable?" Everyone silenced in eager expectation, what would the nice lady who smelled good say? No objection, ship righted. She went on to take charge of the meeting, recruiting an assistant coach & setting practices. Forget the fact she knew absolutely nothing about the game, it was awesome!
We then headed to a department store where she bought tactical books on soccer, & read them! We got a sponsor ( thanks dad, although their name got us plenty of ribbing ).
Also lucky enough to have two Iranian imports on our team, along with their Uncles coaching ( think of the movie Kicking-n-Screaming, pass to the Italians, except for us it was pass to the Iranians ).I'd like to think it was our hard work, team spirit & never say orange slice attitude, that propelled us into the championship game that year. Thought truth be told we had Iranians. I loved those guys. They knew very little English, I even less Iranian. They played footie with style & flair. They simply ran rings around our league.
Every team but one.
The undefeated "White" team. This team of over pampered bullies had our number. Such disdain these malcontents had for our team. More so than the usual "your coach is a girl" or "my mom can out coach yours" rhetoric we'd come to embrace at this point in our season. Silent bonds weighing themselves on us, their jeers attached to our bright yellow uniforms, trying to become part of our identity. They spewed vile from the opening kick-off. Such utter lack off respect was evident in this group, hell they couldn't even be bothered to pick a name, just the color of their shirts!
Hack, our play-makers. That was the plan, & it worked. I increasingly became frustrated with our inability to score. Being naturally left footed, & lacking any real skill I was put where I could do the least damage. LB. I would foul often, win the ball less. It was late in the second half, we'd only lost one game all season, our previous meeting, no way was another going to be against these jerks. I recovered the ball. Now to this point in my footballing/soccer career I'd never been past the center line. I didn't think I was allowed to. My coach's English not being super clear & my mom not knowing most, if not all the rules, meant when he said "you stay here" that's what I did.
Until that day.
I went on the most wonderfully spectacular hair flowing golden run, that would rival any 10 year old. The crowd, my mom, both teams, even the referee was yelling at me ( I didn't care if I was in trouble ). "GO, GO!". Never had I found myself before the keeper, ball at my feet, all behind vanquished. Everything slowed, in that place between indecision & fate. With the might of destiny, I struck the ball. At first slowly, then picking up speed, as if reentering the atmosphere, the ball shot off my foot. Nary a whisper could be heard over it's impact, directly into the keepers mid-drift. The rush of air expelled from his diaphragm, did just that, blow away all our chances at a win. Coupled with the dejection brought on by the subsequent end time whistle, having to witness the disgusting on field Championship trophy presentation, all while sitting, in absolute, abject failure.
I'd say, a pretty good foundation for a Spurs fan.
Part 1: To be continued...