The game was on.
Everything coaches had told me from my diaper league through my crotchety-old-farts’ fantasy play began running through my head.
Run as hard as you can when you hear the whistle.
Grasp the ball with two hands.
Drive through the hit.
Dig, dig, dig.
My mind was swirling with life lessons.
Practices that tested my mettle.
The ignorance of playing through pain.
The embarrassment of overzealous celebration before the outcome was determined.
The elation of success.
The dejection of loss.
The calm satisfaction of knowing nothing more could have been done, that every ounce of sweat available was left lingering for someone else to clean up.
So there I was …
Every muscle firing as the shrill sound of competition beginning reached my ear.
My mind slowing the action around me into a workable puzzle to solve.
I pull my prize tight against my body as hands reach to pull me down.
Crouched like a powerful beast the jungle opens before me.
The first wave of defenders hardly slow my forward momentum.
I read their minds through their helpless expressions as I push through them.
Legs churning, arms protecting the lifeblood of my run.
The goal line looms ahead.
The biggest obstacle has ignited his charge towards me.
His size builds with each step as the distance melts away.
Human, car, truck, semi, oversized Mack truck … and like thunder we collide.
For an instant the world shudders.
My first-ever coach feels the hit from his rocker in a retirement home in Florida.
Then the spin reverts, the world continues on.
First one step with his body crumbling underneath.
Then another step, and his flailing hands grasp at air.
Dig, dig, dig!
I lunge forward.
My prize is now extended in one hand.
I break the scoring line.
My first purchase of Black Friday is safe on the cashiers’ counter.
Only 25 shopping days until Christmas.