|Photo Credit: "B" Gordon|
Last year, his team went in dead last, rec players with some tournament experience and extraordinary coaching, marked as shark bait in the silver bracket. They lost the first game, but scored a goal, keeping their dignity. Second game, they played their buddies–the other half of the team that is coached by the same coach, and won, but without a sense of total satisfaction. Then, in the third game, they turned. They played harder than we had ever seen and won by a single point, near the end. We were elated. They were elated. Somehow, our team of rec players had won against a competitive team! Going into the fourth game, magic happened. Parents were falling off of their chairs, screaming hysterically. Kids with obvious injuries insisted on playing through. The team gelled. They were one organism, forged to attack. And they shut out their opponents. 4-0.
When we accompanied them to the awards stand, the boys were hopeful that they had won second place. And then, someone came out with the first place medals. Tears rolled down faces. Coaches looked like the new fathers in the delivery room. I kept reminding everyone of the Jamaican bobsledders who won the Olympics.
This time, his team is ranked as third of four in the gold bracket. Success may have taken away that moment of utter shock, that "Who me?" forever, as now they are winners, and great things seem par for the course.
But, as I drive up with the center mid-fielder who only recently threw off his crutches, who wanted to go and be there with the team that is like a family to him, whether he could play or not, I know that no matter what happens there this weekend, it will be a miracle.