Sports: such a wide topic. But very little is talked about in the category of freedom and prison. How I found my way out of being trapped in a box.
A little girl from Colombia who came to America at the age of 6 was nothing but an athlete. Her mom wanted her in sports. She tried many sports that brought her joy, but only soccer made her feel at home. She decided to pursue soccer. Her mom signed her up for Joy of the People. She was thrilled.
Practices were always fun to her. As soon as she stepped foot on the field, all her problems would go away. She would be able to use soccer as a way out of situations that were holding her back. She was happy to have found someplace in this world where she felt lost.
As soon as sixth grade hit, two things happened. One was that she decided she wanted to play soccer forever, so she began to play for JOTP year-round. And two, she was starting middle school. Middle school is a challenge for everyone, but it felt especially challenging to her because she was different — different in a good way that she did not understand yet. She was at a predominantly white school and being the only girl of color in her grade made her feel misplaced. But despite the bad and lonely days, she always knew soccer was going to be there at the end of the day.
She pursued soccer because of all the compliments she got, and it was great until it was not. All the pressure to be the best player on the field got to her. Wanting to be the greatest, she began to overwork herself. But something was miss-ing; how was she to become the greatest if she couldn’t find the missing piece?
As she got older, she started to put hate on her performance during soccer. After all, she knew she could execute better. In fact she was determined to. Although she had bad performances at times, every-one always praised her. But when people boxed her into one thing, it started to feel like a prison.
Being trapped in one thing, ruined her. As soccer became a bigger part of her life, she was starting to fade out of the little things: friends, family and, most importantly, her-self. She did not know how to have a balance between reality and soccer. She would always choose soccer over anything else, despite it pulling her away from things.
As she got older she lost the love and joy she had for soccer. This dream of becoming one of the greatest began to fade away. Junior year she began to make friends and stopped making soccer a priority. She began to skip practices, hoping to let herself be free from soccer. But it was the opposite. No matter where she was or went, soccer was always there. Deep down she began to regret losing soccer and became depressed. The more days that passed without soccer, the more she started to lose herself. Piece by piece, until she had nothing more to give.
She knew she needed soccer in her life but also needed people. She slowly began finding ways out of being trapped in a box. She learned to love soccer again and be a part of a community that was not just one thing. She realized life is not all about one thing, rather about many little things that will help her move forward.
This little girl’s story was my reality. I was finally content with something I thought was my everything. Love can turn into hate. But hate can turn into knowledge. I learned in order to be the greatest, I had to stop defining myself as one thing and focus on being someone other than an athlete.