People say that right before something catastrophic happens, everything slows down. I am here to contest that.
Last week, I began playing intramural soccer. I am playing on two teams (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and have had four games so far. Currently, one team is struggling (0-2) and one team is cleaning up (2-0). Just like the team that is performing better, I am also cleaning up (7 goals and 2 assists). However, the game itself is really trying to drag me down.
In my first game, I already had a hat trick in the bag when I took the ball from midfield and sprinted towards goal. A defender was bearing down on me from the right, so I stuttered stepped and, with the outside of my right foot, cut it back and megged him, apparently making him quite angry. I was about to shoot and score when he brought his trailing leg around and chopped me down. I flailed as I crashed to the ground, attempting to chip the ball over the oncoming goalie, but the he made a brilliant save as I crashed to the ground in a heap, knocking the wind out of my chest. It happened so fast, I didn’t realize that I may have actually injured myself. Twelve days later, it is clear that I have two deeply bruised ribs. Ouch.
Two days after that incident, I took the field again with some sore ribs. After just five minutes of play I came up behind an unwary defender and stuck my right foot around him and stole the ball. Unfortunately, as I was planting my foot, my cleats got caught in the turf, but my ankle kept going. SNAP! Tendons and ligaments stretched to their limits, and I crashed to the ground. I hopped off the field and motioned for a substitution. I had a sprained ankle. Perhaps unintelligently, and almost incredibly, I jogged off the initial pain and played the entire second half. For the next three days, I hobbled around school and my ankle swelled to the size of a mellon. Ten days later, it is still black and blue.
After a few well-needed days of rest, I hit he pitch again for my third game. Fortunately, I came out of that game with only aggravating my existing injuries. I considered myself lucky.
The following night I had my fourth game. I was working on a 2 goal 1 assist performance and my team was working on securing a 5-1 victory, when I came into contact with my worst injury to date. With only a minute left to go in the game, I went to pressure an offensive player who was receiving the ball. I got right up on his back and knew that if he tried to turn and go around me, I would stick him with a big right foot and send him flying. Unfortunately, he decided not to go around me, but just right into me. Before I knew what was happening, the player attempted to move past me by throwing his head back with as much force as he possibly could, and it was in the general area that he did this, that my face resided. The back of his skull came rocketing back and made direct contact with my face, knocking me over. The next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the ground and holding my hands over my face. I stumbled off the field as quickly as I could and then looked down at my hands. Blood was flowing down my arms.
“I think I broke my nose!” I said. A few teammates came over to inspect, and their facial expressions confirmed the fact that my nose was indeed broken. I spent the next two and a half hours in the ER, getting x-rays and making sure that I didn’t have blood build up inside my face. The x-rays confirmed that my nose was broken in two places, and this Monday, I have to go back to get it reset. Can’t wait.
Within the past two weeks, I have accumulated more injuries (and a much wider variety of injuries) than I did my four years of playing college soccer (that was just a whole lot of ankle sprains). And during every injury, it happened so fast it was like a blur. It is the moment right after the incident, whether it is while gasping for breath on the ground, or hopping off the field in pain, or watching as blood pours down your hands and arms, where everything truly slows down.
I think I may retire from intramural soccer before it is too late – who knows what is in store for me next game.