Category Archives: Sports

A Little Help From Grandpa

            Going into my junior year of high school, I had a lot of expectations. I was excited for the upcoming soccer season and colleges were starting to seriously recruit me. It was an exciting yet stressful time in my life that I had been looking forward to the entire summer of 2013.

            As preseason came to an end that august, our first game of the regular season was approaching and I had never felt more confident in myself. I was kicking ass and I was ready for anything; except for the voicemail my dad played for me when I was eating breakfast during the morning before our game.

            My uncle had called our house late in the night to tell us that my grandfather had passed away in his sleep. My world was shattered. My grandfather had played a major role in my soccer career growing up. He taught me how to defend, inspired me with his stories of when he played back in Scotland, and always told me to never be average.

 Hearing that he was gone felt like someone had just taken a soccer ball away from me forever; all I wanted to do was stay home and keep my cleats out of sight so I wouldn’t have to look at them. After the voicemail had finished my dad sad to me, “You’re going out there and playing for him today, ok?”

Fast forward through tearing up in the hallways at school and unsuccessfully keeping it together during the warmups before the game, my coach told me that I was going to be starting. When the referee blew the whistle for kick off, I was in another world. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Needless to say, it was the worst half of soccer I had ever played.

When I came off the field at halftime I was hoping that my coach wouldn’t put me in for the rest of the game. He came up to me and said, “Something’s up, I can see it. You don’t have to tell me, but I need you to use it as motivation to be the best you can be.”

As I walked out onto the field for the beginning of the second half, I looked around to see my family standing alone. My dad had just lost his father, yet he still made the 45 minute drive to our game. That was all I needed to get my head right; and after an uneventful and uninspired first half, my grandpa helped our team out a little bit. Our striker took and shot and hit the hand of one of the defenders inside the 18 yard box, the ref blew his whistle signaling a penalty kick, and my entire team looked at me to take it.

I have a usual routine when I take PK’s. I place the ball on the PK spot, take seven steps back and one step to the right, and I look in the opposite corner of where I want to shoot in order to trick the goalie. This time was different. I put the ball down, turned completely around to look at my dad, took one step, and placed the ball perfectly in the back of the net, and we walked away victorious.

Now not every game that I’ve played since that day has turned out like that. But now, I write my grandpa’s name on my wrist before I step onto the field on game day, because I know that if it weren’t for him and my dad, I wouldn’t be where I am today as a player, and as a person.

A night to never forget

Loving and playing sports my whole life has taught me many things. Play with heart, respect others, and trust your teammates. The biggest thing sports has taught me is to live in the moment and be spontaneous. One thing that is evident in all sports no matter what is not everything goes as planned. Yes, you can guess what your opponent might do, and yes you may be right once in a while, but never is anything for sure in sports. There is one story that will forever be in my mind that would have never taken place if I didn’t live in the moment and wasn’t spontaneous.

Villanova was playing for a chance to be National Champions in 2016. All the games up to them making it to the big game, the announcers would always talk about how crazy Villanova’s campus when back in 1985, the last time they were national champions. It was a Monday and all my friends at Etown planned on watching the game together. My best friend Ben and I joked around for weeks about us going to the Villanova to riot on their campus like they did back in 85′. Well, 3 o clock rolled around on that Monday and we looked at each other and smiled. 15 minutes later, ben, my 4 friends, and myself were all piled in my car on our way to Villanova. Within that night so many unbelievable things happened that I will never forget. When we first got there, we got lost and ended up having police dogs come after us. Then we got to watch the National Championship game with all the Villanova students in their gymnasium. We witnessed a buzzer beater and game winner for Villanova. We then rioted the streets with all the students like we went there and ended the night by getting tear gassed by the riot squad.

We left Villanova the next morning around four o’clock and made in back in time for our eight o’clock classes. We went to class in the same clothes that we wore while rioted and smelled like beer and tear gas. One professor even asked what that smell was and Ben raised his hand to tell him that he was the one that smelled and then began telling the story.

The Villanova trip is by far the most outrageous and fun night of my life. I don’t know if anything will ever top it. I got to experience such havoc and fun all because of just living in the moment and going with the flow. Ever since the trip, I try to make less plans in my life and just do things on the go. So far, I have found this to make my life much more fun and interesting. If I were to give anyone advice today, it would to be as spontaneous as possible and just live in the moment.

Memories made with Soccer

Today I went to a men’s soccer varsity game at Elizabethtown High School. It was the first high school men’s game I’ve been to since the fall after graduation. Watching the seniors’ take the field under the scorching hot sun, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental. The blistering mid-day sun and the smell of the fresh cut grass on the pitch were where I spent most of my fall season senior year. For my friends and I, soccer was what we looked forward to at the end of every day in season or out. All the hard practice we put into it wasn’t something we dreaded, it was a challenge to see how much progress was made on a day to day basis leading up to game days.

Being a part of my high school’s soccer team gave me some of my best memories growing up. During the season, the best part of game day was being able to get out of class early to go prepare for the game. Every time we had an away game Coach would always give us the same speech as if we had forgotten from the previous time. While he would explain that we play for the love of the game, Coach would also warn us that if we lost a game we should have won we would be doing sprints as soon as we got back. Although he was stern and uptight most of the time, he was a very sympathetic man. If anyone looked down or upset he would always pull them aside to have a one on one with them to brighten them up. During the offseason, he would regularly check in to make sure we were all playing soccer year-round to prepare for the next season.

Countless times after the soccer season was over, my friends and I would go to our soccer fields to play pickup games when school let out. These games were the best, most of us enjoyed playing these fun games more than we enjoyed playing for our school during the soccer season.  Sometimes it was as if we played with more intensity and emotion during pickup because it felt natural. No one was watching us or critiquing how we were playing which made it a blast. However, we were always careful to do our best to not hurt each other while playing.  We could just play the game and not keep score because we were just having a friendly competition.

Playing soccer is one of my favorite pastimes and in a way kind of made me into who I am today. Growing up, soccer is one of the sports I played every year. It was where I made lifelong friendships and learned the values of teamwork and discipline. I miss the game a lot but am content with the spectator relationship I have with it now. Hopefully, someday I’ll be blessed with children of my own who want to get involved with sports to have similar experiences of mine.

Entertainment As a Sport

          Everyone has their opinion about everything. It seems like the one thing that everyone has to have an opinion on is the WWE. Or like some like to call it, “fake wrestling”. Then there is the other side to the argument that thinks that while its “scripted wrestling”. I lie on the side of scripted wrestling. I love watching the superstars every week put their bodies on the line as they jump off 20 foot high structures or fall through tables. While it may be scripted it most definitely is not fake. I get asked the same questions almost every time I tell someone I watch the WWE, “why do you watch that, do you know it’s fake?”, or “Do you consider the wrestler’s athletes?”

       I watch the WWE for a lot of reasons. One of them, is to escape stress. The WWE has always been there for me when I needed it the most. From humorous promotions and very bad storytelling at times, to the return of my favorite superstars at the biggest paper view of the year. The WWE finds ways to keep anticipation high whenever they are performing. Last year when I was showing WrestleMania to my residents in the lobby, I was approached by multiple people saying I shouldn’t be watching the event because it was fake. My reaction was always the same back to them. I guess you shouldn’t be watching any of the TV shows you watch because that is also fake, the WWE is scripted and even after that, the superstars still need to put their body on the line for the fans enjoyment.  In the 2016 WrestleMania, Shane McMahon took on the Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match. Towards the end of the match, the tired out Shane McMahon put Undertaker on a broadcasters table and proceeded to climb up the cell which is 20 feet tall and was going to jump on the Undertaker, who at the time was in need of a lot of surgeries. As Shane fell through the sky intending to land on the Undertaker. The Undertaker quickly rolled off of the table and onto the ground where he watched his opponent fly into the table and smash his ribs into the hard wood. This is just one of the many examples of superstars putting it on the line for the viewers enjoyment.

         The other question I get is if I think these athletes should be considered athletes. My answer is always an absolutely yes. Like I said before, the superstars put their bodies on the line every night for crowds. On top of that, the WWE has a wellness policy which prohibits the superstars from using steroids or any performance enhancing drugs. So the strength you see on Dwayne Johnson and John Cena is real strength and none of it was acquired by drugs. Also, a minor argument could be, ESPN gave WWE its own tab on the ESPN website, meaning there is regular coverage of WWE.

        While the WWE, is filled with corny story telling and Championships that get passed around because Vince McMahon likes a superstar or the fan’s love the superstar. The WWE is filled with skilled athletic superstars that put their life on the line every time they go to the squared circle. One slip up and their neck might be broken.

Drive, Determination, Respect

I have dyslexia. For those of you who don’t know dyslexia, is it is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

I was diagnosed with this learning disability when I was in first grade. During reading and writing assessments, my first-grade teacher noticed that I was not performing as strongly as I could. She brought this to the attention of my parents and made the recommendation to have me tested to see if, in fact, I had a learning disability. Through this testing, it was discovered that I have dyslexia.

Dyslexia forces me to learn in different ways than other students. Traditionally, it takes me longer to finish class readings and to complete writing assignments. Throughout the years, I have learned to deal with dyslexia and sometimes use it to my academic advantage. I do not let myself allow the disability to get in the way of my education. I look at dyslexia as a motivator in academia rather than an excuse. I admit that it gets frustrating at times when it takes longer than it should for me to fully understand a reading assignment or complete a writing assignment, but I don’t let that get in the way of the overall goal I am trying to accomplish.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who can read their way through a book or write a story to perfection with little to no errors. I have more respect for the sports writers and reporters off the field than I do for the individual athletes on the field. These professionals are turning several stories during a single game. On top of that, they are keeping track of the event and updating social media as they go.

Some may say, “big deal, their job is easy; they get to go to professional sporting events for free and have to write a story or two, piece of cake”. What those individuals don’t understand are the long hours that are put in before and after the event such as getting to the complex at three o’clock for a seven o’clock start time and not being able to leave until twelve or one o’clock in the morning. This job is taxing not only on the reporter but also on their family. Admittedly, I would have a difficult time if I had to do the job of a reporter for a living because of the disability. However, I want to be able to do what a professional sports writer does, so I want to improve my writing. I want to get quicker at reading. There is no reason to let something like dyslexia get in the way of my becoming a better writer, a better reader, and a better professional. It may take me longer than the average person to achieve the same result, but there is no doubt that through perseverance, I’ll get there.