Once I entered high school, I could not wait to tryout for the school team. I played JV my freshman year and was always one of the first to sub in. I started my sophomore year and had a really good year and scored a few times. I moved up to Varsity my junior year and once again I was one of the first subs to enter the game. I was a very fast player and played one of two forwards. Our Varsity team was outstanding. Parkview had won back-to-back state championship and we were seeking our third. Expectations were high for us and really our team matched it. I played with superstars Jason Moore and Josh Wolfe who went on to Olympic and MLS careers. The team was stacked with some really great players who went on to compete at the collegiate level.
I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I believe I started to develop independent tendencies. I somehow felt I needed to make a firm separation between me and the other players which in turn made me start to feel that everyone was against me. I justified that this was the Christian thing to do. Our team was very competitive, which made each player great, but I started to lose my confidence and my joy for the game. I hated studying the game with the team and just felt overall out of place.
Later that year, we were in a game and the assistant coach was yelling at me to get on the other side of the player I was defending. With a bad attitude, I mouthed off that I was. I was immediately pulled from the game. I never played more than a few minutes the remainder of the season. This led me even further down the rabbit hole of self pity and self denial. We made it to the state championship and I remember sitting on the bench. I was embarrassed by what my behavior had caused to happen. I was frustrated in my personal life. I was angry with the coach. I was embarrassed for myself and my family that now never got to see me play. I wanted to play, I wanted to contribute and help us win. But, self pity got the best of me, I regrettably prayed under my breath that we would not win the game unless I was put in. I was never put in. Looking back, that was an incredibly selfish prayer to pray. At that point, my heart separated from the team and I was void of the team mentality. We ended up tying the game and sharing the championship. At that time, state championships did not go into a shootout to determine a winner. So, my prayer was somewhat answered, and I felt awful. The next season, I was released from the team and did not play my senior year. At that moment, I was okay with the dismissal. My heart was far from the team. It felt somewhat like a relief. I never went to any of the games after this. At the heart of the matter, my pride robbed me of the opportunity to be with a team, win with a team, and ultimately support a team I was not on.
In the Fall of 1994, I went to Lee Day at Lee University and tried out for the soccer team.
I had an amazing tryout and was offered a scholarship that day. The coach wanted to come see me play at Parkview. I knew I was in danger of losing the scholarship if he didn’t see me play. However, with God’s grace, he did not rescind the offer. I was still going to play soccer at Lee University.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2