A Season on the Brink of Old Age: Part One

As a high-level (of age) athlete, I am fortunate to take part in several recreational sports activities in my community.

And in order to benefit humanity, I have decided to document my sports season for 2018 here on this blog. You’re welcome.

Actually, I thought the blog would be a good way to motivate me to get into better shape this year, play lots of sports and share some fun experiences. I am often involved in recreational soccer and softball, along with the famous Athens Jogging Club. We are trying to get a basketball game going again, too, and I plan to start exercising more in the summer, so this series will look at interesting (I hope) aspects of those events, as well as a few others from 2018.

For my first entry, here is a look at the first week of spring soccer.

Saturday, April 7 – Opening Day for Adult Rec Soccer

In the Athens Community Soccer League, I play with the well-known (by the team members) Blue Meanie Soccer Club. I am one of the “more seasoned” players, as we have players ranging from teens to some in their 50s.

For the opening weekend, our regular field was under water from some recent flooding, so we played on the turf field out at the high school. Usually, a muddy and bumpy field plays to my strengths, as I don’t have great speed and I like using the bumps and mud as excuses about why I missed the ball or kicked it out of bounds. This week, though, we played on the artificial turf, and it had snow on it to start the game.

I was a little nervous about slipping and was not looking forward to playing in the cold, but once we got started, the game was great fun. I made a few decent plays, got burnt several times and enjoyed spending the morning with my teammates again. Also, once we started running around, we didn’t worry much about the cold.

I had one pretty exciting moment late in the first half when my team was down by two goals. I ran up from my spot on defense, stole the ball and tried to pass it to another player, but it went out of bounds near the goal.

“Rats,” I thought to myself. ‘That was a terrible play. Why did I kick the ball there?” And then I ran back to my spot on defense hoping no one had really noticed.

“Great shot Nick,” I heard from one player.

“Wow, nice move on that Nick, you almost scored there. Good shooting,” another said.

This was repeated by a few other people who didn’t realize I didn’t mean to kick the ball at the goal and actually had no idea where the goal even was at the time. I didn’t realize it at first, but the ball somehow was fairly close to going in. And when you understand that I didn’t actually score in 2017, that made it a pretty big shot for me.

That was probably my best play of the day, and may be my highlight for the season.

As another example of my outstanding field awareness, later in the game I was defending a player from getting toward the goal when I realized I was actually standing out of bounds and was defending the area behind the goal.

The most memorable moment of the day may have been when I subbed out (often my best move). After subbing out, I was getting a drink and noticed my friend Scott walk up to get ready to play in the next game. I waved at him and he gave a little wave back.

When he got closer, I gave him a “Hey, look at this guy!” remark that I always think is funny even though I’m not really sure what it means. He smiled and I was looking forward to catching up with him since I had not seen him since the fall season.

And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t Scott at all, but instead was some guy I had never met before.

And that’s when I thought about how I had just said to him and the other players around me “Hey, look at this guy!”

Why did I say that?

Did he think I was a bully? Hopefully he just thought I was a moron.

I tried to think of some way to cover myself without actually explaining what had happened.

“I like your hat,” was all I could think of.

He smiled.

“How about this weather today,” I said. After that, he did what I should have done earlier and introduced himself. He added that it was his first time playing soccer in our league and he was wondering how it would be.

“Well, at least the first person you met down here acted like a jerk,” I thought to myself. “That ought to get your day off to a good start.” After that, though, I tried to make small talk with him and told him the league was fun and very friendly.

I was also rather embarrassed by my sideline conversation, so I tried to sub back in quickly so that I could instead embarrass myself with my play on the field.

I got back into the game and we lost, but it was a lot of fun.

The best part of the day was when my friend Don scored on a header off of a corner kick from his teenage son, who was playing his first game with us. It was a great moment and a reminder about why rec sports can be so much fun. Don was very happy and the whole team was pretty excited.

It was also a reminder of how Don has gotten so much better than me at soccer in the past few years. How did he score like that? It was a perfect shot. Do you think he knew where the goal was when he did that?

4 thoughts on “A Season on the Brink of Old Age: Part One

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