after a huge fall of soccer that included pulling double duty as a starting Varsity high school player as a freshman and helping the club team go undefeated in league play to make the jump up to the next level for spring, the spring has rolled into early summer with reward(s) for all the hard work. a cup, the U.S. Youth Soccer, Kentucky State Open Cup to be exact. for all the success in soccer, the trophies, the medals, the t-shirts, the atta-boys this item has been elusive. but no longer. great coaching, super commitment and a winning, positive mindset are all huge parts of this whirlwind run of the last 10 months. but it’s isn’t over yet…more for sure…
a quick tale of two boys who achieved the first part of a late spring/early summer goal. one (not pictured here) made it to NYC, as an intern at Hearst Publishing, settled into a room at NYC and will spend the next 3 months becoming something he wasn’t before he left Lexington. my heart is full for him. amazed at his guts and talent it took to get himself in the position to be there. he’s already won and doesn’t even know it. the second, pictured above, helped his team make it through the first round of the Kentucky State Cup. his team had a tremendous first weekend, executing 15 goals while giving up zero, zilch, nadda. he finished with a pair of goals and 3 assists on the weekend and some massive center midfield play in some important matches. so for a pair of boys, a nice weekend on the way to bigger missions as the summer progresses. forward they go. i just try and get a few pictures of it.
in a little more than a week, old boy #1 moves to NYC for 11 weeks for an internship in the very real world of publishing. proud, oh, I am. amazed at the courage he has, oh, i am. this week i am going to cram in a bunch of photography, it’s been awhile since i actually took a photo of him that wasn’t hurried and with a phone, some words, but only about what an adventure he will have and maybe a hint of things hidden in the cracks of the city. i can’t wait for him to live and learn in what is the greatest city in the world. i know his dance card is full and his life is transitioning to one of his own, the way it should be. but none of that ever lessens the size of the lump in my throat.
13th century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas explored human transgression, notably the seven deadly sins. of the sin of pride, he said, “inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin…” which some few centuries down the line can best be described like–we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we feel we really can’t be judged and don’t really have to go by the rules–and once we buy into that most of our transgressions are just written off not as sin but as freedom of choice. i’m not a religious sort at all and basically scoff at organized attempts at worship and the way that religion is used to control simple minds. but i do understand the need to put things into an order when it comes to life lessons explored in some of the writings related explaining sin, redemption and being a better person. these writings are worth pondering even if i don’t claim to be an expert on either side of theology. i think pride is something that us, Americans, have maybe way to much of, and so few of us have actually earned the self-love we shower upon ourselves. have you seen any campaign ads recently?
so many different scenarios during the struggle are what truly make it “the beautiful game.” it’s never just goals or magical touches, sometimes it’s just about strength, will and physics.
when you have the ball in soccer, basketball, football, well, in any sport where you have control of the ball and you dupe the opposition with a move, a fake, a feint and they fall for it…we call it “breaking ankles.” you know, like “hey, i just broke that kid’s ankles.”
i have a thought pertaining to art, music, sport…
if you are any good at all, then you know that you can be better. i played some football in my youth, screamed in a band, took some photos, talked for hours a day on the radio, made some art, wrote some words, basically i failed at a whole litany of “things.” i can honestly say i was never that good at any of those “things,” but i was good enough to understand that i needed to improve, and that i could. now with young boys, there’s an ego, there’s a “i’m the best at this” attitude that helps drive them. you never want to smother that, but you do want them to understand that there really never is a “best.” you are in charge of pushing yourself to this unobtainable notion of an invisible measuring stick. now, you can use stats, or the eyeball test, or success as a gauge in anything your are doing but none of those things truly can give you a scale to mark your personal “better.” i am proud that boy #1 and boy #2 manage to push themselves to be better in so many ways. there’s maturity there that i didn’t possess at their ages when it comes to drive and fortitude. that’s kind of a big deal. it’s serving them well.
when i snap a frame at a soccer match, i think i am trying capture a story in 1/500th of a second that speaks to “getting better.” i doesn’t always work, it maybe never works as a public narrative–but to me, what i see here is a boy, who looks more like a man, compared to the opposition. he is running towards a ball not in the frame, and he has already beaten a pair of kids mentally, they are giving up, he isn’t. he doesn’t know they have, he doesn’t care whether they have or not. he has focus, he is finding a maturity. he sent me a text the night before a full weekend of soccer matches, it said, “i don’t even care. like i literally could be playing against college kids or a 2-year-old. i really don’t care at all.” he is making his soccer game, about his role, not about others. he’s getting better.
in a mere two days, the struggle begins again, Spring springs into soccer season. the fun, the pain, the joy, the want, the jubilation, the disappointment. i would not trade some of these moments for anything, here’s to hours in the car for a few moments of beauty. the first weekend, the Cincy Elite College Showcase, can’t wait.
this is a late Fall image, against the #1 team in the country at our age group at the CASL tournament. there’s only one way to get better, play the best.