Author: Elise Devereux
My extended soccer family stands as one of the most eclectic groups of individuals that I know. Currently, we consist of around 25 sisters, at least 26 brothers, and one fiery Irishman.
Those who participate in Occidental soccer can attest to the importance we place on team unity: making bonds that last longer than a single season. We become more than just team mates; we are study partners, friends, and that first phone call you make when you find yourself in jail.
However, this type of chemistry is not just born: it takes practice, literally.We begin every season with the ever dreaded two-a-days. Before most students begin moving into dorms, we are already on the top soccer fields running sprints, working through complex drills, and playing in competitive full field scrimmages.
Everything we have is left on the field, but in just a few short hours, we find ourselves making that trek up the hill once more.
However, as the body exceeds physical exhaustion and mental sharpness begins to waver, we always find a team mate extending a hand to help pull us through.
The tryouts for this season’s teams were more competitive than previous years, making each practice a fight just for playing time. That is not to say our practices turn into a cut throat battle royale.
They fall more along the lines of knocking your own team mate to the ground, then inviting her to 21 Choices later.
With practice held four days a week, and games falling every Wednesday and Saturday, we get to know and love our team. This compassion is not reserved for only players listed on the official roster, but extends through our reserves and injured list.
With a recent string of broken noses and a few torn ACLs, nothing is more heartbreaking than to see these hard working and talented players become sidelined.
Our team cohesion is best displayed during games. We may laugh, joke around, and occasionally dance a little during warm-up, but once we hear the shrill of the referee’s whistle, we become poised for action.
And while we find little concern in knocking over one of our own team mates in practice, the same can not be said when an opponent brings one of your brothers or sisters to the ground.
You may see one of us walking around campus smiling at passersby, but we would not hesitate to drop an opponent into the fence if he or she was going after our team mates.
This same intensity on the field reverberates throughout our entire bench team; their cheers drown out those coming from our entire fan section.
A few years ago, such a statement would seem insignificant considering we only had one fan, whom we have dubbed the “Exercise Man.”
Our supporters are quickly out growing their bleachers, and as the season progresses, it is not uncommon to see fans braving the shrubs and bushes to support the team.
Our men’s and women’s teams take turns switching off on home and away games, but no matter whose field we play on we share the same opponent.
This desire to see a victory from both sides could not be stronger than today’s game against Cal-Lutheran.
Even with Pomona-Pitzer just around the corner, we must approach one challenge at a time, and always as a team.
Elise Devereux is a senior English/Comparative Literary Studies Major and can be reached at [email protected]
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