Ambition and the Ball by James Custodio

Honors English 2, James Custodio, Period 5

Letting Ambition Dribble the Ball

“Mark up, mark up!” I remember my teammates calling as the opponent lined for a corner kick. I was ready to knock the ball out and clear it out to our forwards who were eager to score. I heard the ping and the ball was in the air. “I will clear this out the way,” I thought in my head. “I will get this over to Marcus or Daniel and we will get to the…” I wasn’t able to complete my thought as it was interrupted by a metallic bang and being shrouded in utter darkness.

I never once thought I would play soccer, ever. My past experiences would lead me to believe so, and I had believed I had my sports course set ahead the finish line at Track and Field. My walls were adorned with gold and silver medals of important races during my five years of doing this sport of running and running…really fast. Interesting sport is it not? I mean which teen of the 21st century would want to run in the heat…really fast. Me obviously at the time. But as I watched the infamous 2014 Brazil World Cup, my ambition to try something new grew. Running became too easy and repetitive and I just wanted a change. Now understand I was doing it for the sake of my father who saw great things in me in the world of running…really fast. But I always wondered if I could be doing more. I pondered this the whole summer, the whole practices of running…really fast. Then the announcer shouted “MARIO GOTZE WITH THE VOLLEY FOR GERMANY,” I looked at the TV screen and it seems that Germany just scored in the Brazilian final against the Argentines. Then, it hit me. These medals weren’t enough. The speed I run in wasn’t enough. I decided on that day of the World Cup Final that I would run…really fast…with a ball at my feet.

First off I needed to get the hell out of track and its rigorous practice days. I went to one of my so called team mates and told her “I’m quitting the team, I need something more challenging.” And as that was over I needed to tell my dad that I just quit the sport I was doing for five years. I did manage to convince him that I needed something more rigorous, more suitable for my likes. After that we bought soccer cleats and training. Now I was and still am at a disadvantage for starting old. But I do have the ability to run…really fast. My training was bunch of small kids and about two other people my age. Jude and Victor. Both experienced but wanted to retain control over their footed gifts. Me being the amateur would have to learn pretty quickly. It took a while for me to even get the ball off three feet from the ground. Let alone hit the crossbar. And I failed to hit the ball correctly causing damage to my front toe. But after weeks of training I slowly grew and grew into the basics of the sport and with help with my outer friends at a nearby soccer field, I grew more fond and as I grew more fond I grew more ambitious to play officially. Jude, Victor, and I parted ways on the beginning days of the season thinking we’d never meet again. But who knows, soccer unites people is what I learned from the committed fans of the World Cup.

I walked into the hall of the AYSO, or American Youth Soccer Organization, signing for a team to join. Oh but I had to do an assessment session. At that session I tried as best I can to score before the assessor got there but I kept missing and missing and missing. Everyone knew I was the amateur. When our guy did get there he had us do drills that involved running to the ball…really fast. As it was my turn against my opponent opposite in line I knew I was going to give a show worth watching. “GO!” this dude said. I bolted like the speed of a bullet towards the ball, rolled it behind me and got back in line. Simple as that, but boy oh boy everyone was astonished. Knowing the power of my speed I knew I could stun anyone just like that. I recall one good looking blonde girl at one of our track meets back in the day insultingly complimenting on how deceptive my shortness was compared to my speed on the fast sprints. That gave me the ambition to have everyone think or say that to themselves or to me.

Assessment was over and in about a week’s time, I was called to a team at last. At practice I was astonished on how good everyone was compared to what I normally see. This was spring season and the games were fastly approaching. We had a scrimmage set for our coach to assess our skills. One side wearing red pennies the other whatever they wore to practice. Now me, not knowing my official position was everywhere at everytime on the field. But boy oh boy were they astonished by my speed. Being quick to defend and ready to bounce on the attack within a matter of milliseconds. I managed to grab the ball off from my friendly opponents and run…really fast to the goal and I kicked it over the goal keeper but to my surprise it bounced off of the post. I was determined to score, determined to make up for that embarrassment of a shot, determined to…”Alright guys bring it in,” coach said. Next we got our uniforms, white with a blue and black stripe going across the collar. My number: 3. Because I was short the smallest numbers are up front. Our league team LA Galaxy was a mix of great skillers and really fast paced runners. I was ready to make a name for myself to my team…really fast.

First game, a Saturday morning at 8am with the sun beaming at our backs. I was put on the position of right midfield, I was told to cover that area completely. The whistle blew and kick off began. Our forward and most anticipating player Erick, easily in the start dipped in and out of the enemy defense and blasted it in through the net. From that alone I was confident in winning the league…really fast. The ball found my feet and I made a fast paced run along the side outrunning my defenders and crossing it inwards and PING, we scored again as wild haired Steven scored a well timed volley. At the end I did astonish everyone with my pace and we won 4-2 that day. From that game on, I would dedicate myself completely to the game of Futbol. I wanted to add the trophy to my wall of gold medals.

A night game, Tuesday was the semi finals for the playoffs. We were up against a formidable team. As the game started, without our lead scorer due to injury, we earned a penalty almost immediately. We obviously scored so I thought it would be easy. But no did I think wrong. Our goalkeeper got the infamous, game changing, Red Card. It was for a petty tackle that could’ve been passed off as a false dive but we had to put our secondary keeper up. Unfortunately the enemy scored three on him. It was over I thought. But we managed to get a useless corner. But no, I thought to myself that we still had time to score and move into the finals. I was determined to show my old track mates that I quit for a good reason. “Mark up mark up!” I remember my teammates calling as the opponent lined for a corner kick. I was ready to knock the ball out and clear it out to our forwards who were eager to score. I heard the ping and the ball was in the air. “I will clear this out the way,” I thought in my head. “I will get this over to Marcus or Daniel and we will get to the…” I wasn’t able to complete my thought as it was interrupted by a metallic bang and being shrouded in utter darkness.

Was I dead? What happened? I heard distorted voices all around me. Blurry figures moved and carried me. I was confused. I saw flashing lights, I never thought my ambition would take me this far…the damn ER for the third time within a year. I awoke on a hospital bed with needles pierced into my arm. My coach and dad were there, telling me I had my head pushed against the crossbar giving me a concussion…meaning I wouldn’t be able to play for a long time. We lost the game, which meant I lost my trophy. On the following Saturday I saw my team play for third place…which we lost a staggering 10+ something with more than half our team injured or carded. That season was over and so was mine for quite a while. A month later I was trying to survive on codeine pills for my head and not doing what I loved…soccer. But by God I managed to convince my dad that it was time for my recovery.

I signed for an international training camp with British folk to try to bounce back from my injury. Funny accents, a decent looking chick, and making runs with a ball…really fast, was the summary of that week long course. A miniature world cup, an extra shooting course, and a load of British slurs was enough to help me get back on my feet. I was ready for the next season. Still ambitious for my trophy. But until then I would need more training. To do that, I started going to the park with my outer friends to play soccer almost every day even after a hard core work day. The sport was popular among us all and we would encounter many individuals to play with on the field. One day was the day I was determined to turn every minute of my training to a full blown game with my friends and the entire Upland Soccer Club. Oh boy oh boy I showed what I have improved on. The ball found its way in front of me as I gunned across the line and tapped it into the goal a surprising 6 times during that game. The Upland coach walked up to me asking for my age and proceeding to offer a part in the club. He was astonished like everyone else by the way I can run…really fast. I denied his offer, for the reason that I would be the youngest of a team made of 19 year olds.

At long last, I was called in August by my old coach from the previous season. This time we were travelling all across the IE to play. My table still awaits for a trophy for it to support. Our squad seemed and still seams unstoppable with a 3-1-1 record so far with me giving all I got despite a petty injury involving a car and shin splints. I expect to be shouting our team name, Mexico, at the final…really fast.DSCN0214DSCN0215Screenshot (1)Screenshot (10)Screenshot (4)Screenshot (7)Screenshot (9)

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