Leaving the game I love


Executive Sports Editor Robbie Fraser plays soccer in a game against Glenbrook South on Sept. 28, 2017. Robbie is a three-year member of the Glenbrook North Varsity Soccer team and loves the game. Photo by Sydney Stumme-Berg

Robbie Fraser, Executive Sports Editor

Déjà vu. It’s supposed to be a fleeting feeling, something that catches your drifting mind for a mere moment in time.

Not on October 28, 2017.

I experienced déjà vu for 80 intense, amazing, horrible minutes. I had spent the entire soccer season with my mind bent on not repeating the past year’s failure: a loss in penalties to Evanston in the sectional final, dashing our hopes of competing for a state title.

But when the 28th finally came, it just wasn’t our day.

We lost to Evanston in the sectional final. Again. I had so much faith in our team, but that feeling of, “Have I been here before?” seemed to be hiding in the back of my mind, on the edge of consciousness, slowly building as the clock ticked on. Then, with eight minutes to go, that feeling hit full force. Evanston took a long throw in. Bodies crashed with the ball flicking off the top of a head directly in front of me. With no time to react, all I could do was helplessly feel the ball skim off the top my head and fall to an Evanston player who scored what would be the winning goal.

I had spent every second on the field that year preparing for one game, and it wasn’t enough. My coach’s words that soccer can be a “cruel game” rang in my mind. I was completely burned out.

Just like that, my soccer career was over. A few weeks earlier I had decided to not play club soccer in the spring. I was alright for a little while, but after weeks without the daily routine of practice and the motivation of the next game, some of the purpose and direction in my life had vanished.

Glenbrook North has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my passion. Every single day, I knew I had 120 minutes to get lost in the ball at my foot, to savor the permanent bond between my teammates and to have all of my nagging worries fade into nothing.

But there is always that last game, that last competition, or that last performance, and when the inevitable occurs, do whatever you can to continue enjoying your passion. The biggest mistake you can make is forgetting your passion, the thing that makes you who you are.

I made that mistake, and I paid for it, losing a part of what made me myself. But the mistake doesn’t have to be permanent. Make up for it. I did by forming a spring soccer team with my friends and deciding to get on the field whenever possible, for as long as possible.

Sometimes, I can still feel the ball skim the top of my head as it did on that day in October. But then I feel the familiar grooves of the ball in my hands. I feel the soft thumping of the ball on the top of my foot while popping it in the air back and forth. And I feel the smooth strike of a shot taken on an empty net in an empty field under a blue sky.