I am not an athlete, but I was so proud to be a Hoosier last night. The Butler bulldogs were incredible. Duke was great also. Yes, they came out on top but I love a team that doesn’t give up. There was not one moment on the floor last night when Butler ever looked defeated, bored, or ungrateful. They just played ball all night. Nothing phased them. Yes, the game got physical, but there was never any “I deserve this” attitude. It was more of a “let’s get this done!” type of game. I am sure it stings like bee right now and their hearts are hurting, but the whole state and country is still in awe of their poise, grace and yes competitive side. Thanks for a great run Bulldogs!
Now, every time I have seen a bulldog hat here in Indiana I have done a double take. My town Hewlett, where the Hewlett High school bulldogs reign has a great tradition of high quality basketball teams, football teams, and soccer teams. Actually one of my brothers played on the state championship team for soccer. So somewhere in the back of my mind, I always felt I had a shot to be in it, to be competitive. I saw videos of Pele floating on the field. He made it look fun and easy. I would jump over the ball and think if Pele can do that, so can I! I would do one move over and over and say “Hey, watch my Pele move,” even though I had never seen him do it nor did I know whether the move was effective. I just knew it was fun, felt good and kind of made me look like I knew what I was doing. I would practice in the yard, do drills, run sprints, and had a great growl. If you listen closely enough you can still hear the echo of my grunts as a much better player out scored me. “That will teach her! If I make noises maybe that goal won’t count!” In elementary school every Saturday was like an adventure to the same three fields where are our parents would cheer us on, teammates would critique each others shin guards and we would enjoy our post game victory/loss at Mc Donalds. One weekend we were playing at the number 6 school field and I was lucky enough to be in goal. Really, they put the shortest, smallest, least coordinated kid in as the goal tender. It must of been the growl, very deceiving during the selection and coaching process. It had such a ring to it that I think it might have made me vibrate and “look” bigger and stronger. So there I was about 4’1, stylish shorts, flowing locks of stick straight hair and eyes like a hawk. I actually had great focus so I knew when danger was coming, I could sense it like a fox. That moment before the eagle swoops in to claims his fish, I could see it a mile away. So when a girl was coming left, I would always go right, because she was just tricking me…right? Or when a ball was high in the air I would a do football kick off return fair catch signal as if that was going to help dissuade our competitors from moving in. I did really try, I guarded the goal like that hawk. Every inch of it mine, the net, the white chalked dirt lines and the bars, all mine. Oh yes the bars where mine. They were so much mine in fact that when I did finally get a great save, I hugged the ball and did the best punt return kick ever! The ball went straight up in the air, not out, but up and hit the bar, went over my head and scored a goal for the other team. I saw all of the parents hands hold their heads in disbelief like a stop motion scene from The Fantastic Mr. Fox. One group “Oh!” came out as the ball made it’s home in my home. The referee was too kind and didn’t count it as a goal. Maybe he was scared of my growl, maybe it was because I had openly had a crush on him all season. Either way I still remember that slow motion feeling of extending my leg, the ball leaving my foot, entering the air and thinking “Wow! This is awesome! I can be a champion and have winged bangs, all at the same time!” But as the ball hit the floor and splashed its way through out the net, Only one thought came to mind, Hey I really do look like Pele doing that! Hey we all have to start somewhere.
Come see Finer at Birdy’s next week. No soccer balls will be hurt or mishandled during the show.