Chapter 55: EXIT STRATEGY – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
As important as it is to leave your baggage off the soccer field, it’s equally important to leave your soccer on the soccer field.
As a college soccer player, you compete against your best friends and your roommates every day. Some days you’ll beat them and some days they’ll beat you and sometimes it’ll probably get a little bit heated and when practice ends, your pot will still be boiling. You know what? That’s fabulous! That’s what soccer should be! What makes soccer worthwhile and memorable is all the emotion that it brings out of you. Imagine if soccer didn’t do that. Imagine if it never made your heart race or it never made you jump in celebration or cry in defeat. If it never did any of those things, would you love it so much? Of course not! It would be about as satisfying as cooking a reasonably good omelette.
In a strong soccer culture, the players compete and they compete to the utmost of their abilities day in and day out and they battle their teammates with the same conviction as they would battle their opponents. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And when it does, sometimes nerves will get a little bit frayed.
When soccer is over, it’s over. Don’t take your individual battles back to your car or back to your dorm room. Again, you’ve got to compartmentalize soccer to keep it from dripping into your non-soccer world.
You want my advice? At the end of practice, if there’s a teammate who really pushed your buttons, go shake her hand. Look her in the eye, shake her hand and tell her, “Great job!” It might seem strange to you and it will probably seem even stranger to her, but as soon as you do that, you’re going to feel all of that anger drain right out of your body and you’ll be able to move on with the rest of your day as the happy, socially well-adjusted person I know you to be.
When you take soccer home with you, it’s a catalyst to backstabbing, and we’ve already discussed what a disaster that can be. That’s why it’s so important that you leave your soccer where it belongs – on the soccer field.
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