Ninety Minutes by Emma Hickson

I’ve never really been one to write…but I have often found myself wanting to express my feelings and emotions through the medium of words, yet having no real purpose to do so, I’ve never acted on this instinct; however after my season coming to an abrupt close and participating in what would be the final game of my sophomore season, I felt compelled to share with you my complicated array of thoughts; To which I have found it somewhat quite cathartic to do so.

This game became the purpose of starting this blog, as to me it served as a true reflection of the whirlwind of emotions one can feel during the 90 minutes of a Football (Soccer) game and how dramatically things can change; especially amidst significant adversity. So here we have it…my raw, uncensored version of events from the close of my sophomore season.

Desolation, emptiness, despair, regret, passion, guilt, shame, sadness; 90 minutes. A mix of emotions that you don’t tend to feel all at the same time. Yet in Football, and in those 90 minutes all of these emotions become very real. I’m writing this just days after my team, Limestone Saints, were knocked out of the first round of the NCAA National Tournament, a barrier we have been trying to break for the last three years (two years in my case) and this time I was convinced that we would. After a positive first half, things looked bright (my mind beginning to think of the unthinkable, could this be the year we make program history?) but in the 68th minute disaster struck. All of a sudden we were down 1-0; fear begins to set in, the daunting reality that our hopes of reaching the second round will be dashed before our eyes once again.

The flashbacks of last year plaguing my every thought; history repeating itself in the cruellest of manners. Surely we’re owed some luck at this point? – Hard work amounting to heartache. I wish I could say that there was a twist of fate (like you so often see in the movies) but sadly, this isn’t one of those stories.

For those who truly know me, know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes it’s this passion and heart that leads me to a place of desperation. I tackle hard because I want to win the ball, I want to show my teammates that I am willing to fight for them; and I want the opposition to know that we’re here to battle. It’s something that’s always been in my nature. Though unfortunately; I allowed negative seeds of doubt to implement themselves heavily in my head and things quickly spiralled. I made the split-second decision to tackle the ball, when it wasn’t there to be tackled. A moment of madness. A red card heading my way; yet by that point I was already walking, I knew that my actions had cost me; I knew that I had let my teammates and coaches down; I knew that I had lost the opportunity to make an impact and help turn the game around, I had let the negative emotions get the better of me, even in my place of sanctuary. I felt like a bad person; I felt like everyone would hate me, but above all, I was filled with instant regret as I believed that those actions aren’t a reflection of my character, yet I had ruined it all in that moment.

We lost the game in the end, 3-0. And I felt completely numb, I entered a space of complete darkness. All of those emotions rushing to the surface immediately, followed by the uncontrollable tears. Sadness that my season had ended in the worst way possible, sadness that for my seniors, it would be the last kick and I would no longer have the privilege of playing with them anymore; yearning for just a simple hug off my parents (knowing that this was impossible) telling me that “it will all be okay” so that some of the pain would disappear. All of this in 90 minutes. A complete roller coaster. That’s Football. That’s what it can do to you. It may be hard to comprehend for someone who doesn’t play a sport but when it’s something you’re so passionate about, it can be all that consumes you; in that moment… and yes, sometimes the world feels like it truly is ending.

As I reflect on my sophomore season, it can only be described as an eye opener; the biggest learning curve of my life so far. From being D2 hero of the week to sitting in the stands on Senior Day; I’ve experienced some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows but I am grateful for it all, as it’s all part of the growing process. I’m still learning, I’m still trying to figure out why things happen the way they do but it’s why I continue to be addicted to this crazy sport. And as one of my good friend’s told me “your struggles are your blessings because they build you into the person you were meant to be.”

With all of that being said, I am already looking forward to starting the challenge all over again next year. A season of new beginnings, a fresh start, a window of more opportunity to develop, a chance to use all of this experience and those mistakes to build me into a better player and person. I’m thankful for this season and all the madness that has come along with it, I will miss being on the field with my seniors; but if I’ve learnt one thing by now, it’s that this is college soccer and the ball will keep on rolling.

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