Look at these cuties...
With the amount of time I spend each fall playing soccer, I'm surprised I don't blog about it more. I think a big part of this is because shoot - I'm writing for the admissions website! I feel like I should write about things that make Carleton special, things that make Carls truly different, things that put our humble Northfield abode a step above the rest.
Soccer - well, every school has a soccer team. Across the country, student-athletes juggle the responsibilities of academics, sports, work, friends and family. And so I suppose I decided that I didn't have much to say that would be of particular interest or relatability to the average-Joe reader.
But as my season ended disappointingly early, it dawned on me that we women's soccer players are just as much Carls as the rest, and as such we are simply not just athletes.
We blew up enough balloons to fill a room and them popped them all before a game to pump ourselves up. We cook delicious team dinners together. We tied ourselves together in a big web of yarn to show that we were all supportive and interconnected. We choreographed a dance together and stopped warm-up before every game to perform it. We dressed up in our craziest outfits and ran around campus - to the library, to the president's office, to the student center, to football practice, to men's soccer practice, to the rec center - singing at the top of our lungs. We have dedicated fans - parents, friends, significant others, alumni - who follow us across Minnesota and Wisconsin to watch us play.
The truth is, the frustrations that come with playing sports are very real. And so sometimes, I can't help but ask myself, why the heck do I do this? Why do I - Why do any of us - spend fourteen, sixteen, twenty hours a week practicing, traveling, competing, icing our bodies? It's an easy question to answer after a very successful season - winning is fun. Winning is validating and rewarding and energizing. But sometimes losing happens, and losing doesn't exactly warm the soul. Stepping off the field with the knowledge that maybe you could have done something differently, maybe you could have given just a little bit more of yourself to the game and you would have been able to continue playing doesn't do great things for the head.
We spent a lot of time this season winning. We won the MIAC, but had some unfortunate losses that kept us from going to the NCAA tournament. But here's a secret: it's not every team that has the same amount of team love that we do. Because you see, we love each other whether we win or not. We dance during warm up whether we're playing at our best or not. We study together and give each other life advice and surprise each other with Friday flowers and come early to practice just to hang out. A bad day I had last week was quickly brightened when I found a warm note and handmade bookmark (to facilitate studying, of course) from a teammate in my mailbox. We play soccer together - just for fun - even when our season is officially over.
And we carry on traditions with the utmost pride - always. I'm almost certain it was this pregame ritual that led to our decisive 3-0 victory over St. Olaf last weekend.
(my outfit had a butt flap - yeah, that's right. what could be more exciting?)
And so this post is something of an au revoir to the soccer season and an apology for not blogging about it sooner and a thank you to our loyal fans who, from the slope of Bell Hill, watched us play our best games and our worst.
And Concordia-Moorhead -- we'll be seeing you next year. This isn't over.