The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Writer Challenges Sports, Learns from Failures

I always thought I’d look tough in pads. I mean, even without pads I felt tough enough to challenge kicker senior Brett Serviss to a kicking contest and tell captain center-mid senior Teresa Fabbricino her backhand shot had no chance with me in goal. Both of them agreed to put me to the test, promising to make me eat my own words.

Three points never seemed so far

The time on the clock reads :04, and a physical, bruising game of football comes down to this one play. The level of noise in the stadium is so loud that it rumbles. The whole preparation for the kick seems to take twice as long as the game, and the kicker is all alone. He has one shot at three points; points most people call a ‘gimme,’ but if he misses he’ll let everyone down. And since nobody really knows what it’s like to be a kicker I had to give it a shot…err, kick.

Wearing borrowed equipment, I held the ball for Brett, and he demonstrated how to kick as he took a few confident strides, looked up, and nailed a kick from the point-after mark, approximately 19 yards away.

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I did my best to copy his procedure: line toes up, take two steps back, and … screw it. I rushed forward, half stumbling, and watched as the ball I kicked spun sideways and rolled off the turf. I was 0/1, and my first kick probably never left the ground.

On my second try I was able to make the kick and save myself some embarrassment. My excitement was short-lived though, as we moved the ball back to attempt a 30-yard kick. With more focus, I made my attempt, and with far less focus, Brett made his.

We moved back to attempt a 40-yard field goal. Brett yawned, sent a text message, and made the field goal all at the same time. I spent extra care prepping my kick only to see it flop eight yards short of the field goal. At just 30-yards I had maxed out my potential.

Here’s the “kicker”: I made (and missed) my attempts under the nearly overbearing scrutiny of an empty field. Brett will be under the pressure of both teammates and fans.

“I can only imagine myself being put on the spot in front of a stand full of people screaming at me, putting their faith and trust in me,” Brett said.

So maybe this season when the game is on the line and Brett’s the only thing between a win and a loss, we should take a second to realize just how hard it is. Either that, or you should volunteer to give it a shot … err kick.

Boy in full pads loses to girl in kilt

Twenty-five pounds of gear is a lot heavier than it seems. Ninty-five degrees is a lot hotter than it seems. Playing goalie wearing 25 pounds of gear in 95-degree weather is a hell of a lot worse than it seems.

The first thing I noticed in my new challenge was the amount of gear I had to wear: from a plastic helmet and thick chest piece to cumbersome shin pads and foot guards to awkward gloves and a large stick. By the time you’re done dressing you look more like Iron Man than an athlete.

After being coached on how to put on the gear, I waddled to the goal. I was already sweating, and when I got there a line of balls and Teresa awaited me.
Teresa fired shot after shot, determined to make me as tired and embarassed as possible. Some of the field hockey players started to come out for practice and laughed as they saw the rookie goalie getting worn out and beaten time after time.

Teresa backed up a few yards, and as she began to fire shots, I began to use more instinctual reactions. I used my gloved hand to swat shots, ignoring the all-important use of my stick and feet, while looking more like Shaquille O’Neal than a goalie.

At one point I decided to chase Teresa, and inevitably ended up on the ground watching a shot roll into the goal behind me. I had the agility and mobility of a boulder, and I paid the price for even bothering to move.

For someone who had never played goalie, I had apparently impressed Teresa.

“You were actually pretty good in goal,” Teresa said. She even flattered me by saying I had the potential to be effective in a game.

The one thing our shootout lacked was true pressure, a factor which Teresa believes weighs heavily on a goalie.

“Goalies [deal with] amazing amounts of pressure in the game,” Teresa said. “[Goalies] need to be the leader of the defense and take charge in the back.”

I could barely deal with the weight of the gear, much less the pressure of an in-game situation. I’ve been told I ought to try a goalie race—a race between two fully geared goalies from endline-to-endline that is used to break a tie. After dealing with the heat, the gear and the embarrassment, sadly I’ll have to decline.

And Brett thinks he has it bad.

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