When I was younger, my parents always suggested I take up an individual sport. “You can still play team sports, but you can play table tennis or martial arts or racquetball on your own,” they would say.
And while I may have the genes to play everyone’s favorite game involving a ping-pong table (my grandma is in the Table Tennis Hall of Fame, after all), I never ended up picking up any sort of paddle, or sparring gear, and I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t.
I’ve played on teams throughout my whole athletic career, and have come to find that there is nothing better. A team is really so much more.
Half way through my senior season on varsity soccer, I’ve realized how true this is—and how little time I truly have left to enjoy it all. The two soccer teams I play on (school and club) are two of the closest knit groups I’ve ever been in, and unfortunately once the seasons end, worse than not winning the league, (although we will be winning CCS this year), will be losing the friendships and relationships I’ve built.
While the benefits of playing on a team seem apparent —contributing to a larger goal, learning to work with others, and making friends out of teammates—it is really the third part that lasts the longest. No matter how much I care about winning this year’s championship, next summer’s tournament, or finding a way to help my team win each game, I care most about my team and teammates. Plain and simple.
It is the daily practices, the tournament lunches and the game day bus rides I look most forward to. Post-practice jokes, half-time hand shakes, and chest-bump celebrations remind me why I never followed my parents advice: You just can’t replace a team.
This year’s varsity boys soccer team epitomizes all of these feelings. I can honestly say I’ve never been on a closer knit team. From the bench to the field, the support is unprecedented, the competition is friendly yet intense and the love is always there. Teammates rely on one another, whether it’s to pick you up when you’re down, cover you on a play, or simply pat you on the back after a loss. The entire team laughs when another player gets pegged at practice, and the entire team cries when we lose a game we know we should have won.
To the teams I’ve been on, the teammates I’ve been fortunate enough to have: Thank you, for the best memories I may ever have, the best friendships I may ever make, and the best experiences of my life.
Now let’s go win CCS.