(Publish early and Publish often....some basic rules when you know your connection is tentative. Over here on a remote site at the State Department, the Verizon guys are working on the lines.....I had worked this story in a direction that it made sense...it all came together and now it is all gone.....no draft saved...nothing but the skeletal beginings.)

In the mid-70's there was a soccer explosion and I was a part of it. The soccer invasion process was not at all gradual, it all grew rapidly into a grand monster. Pele was king and all the kids wanted to be number 10. Well, nearly all of the kids. My personal 'goals' as a soccer player were slightly different...Franz Beckenbauer was more my model player. Lacking the golden touch for putting the ball into the net as well as being devoid of the grace, speed, and agility to dance like a gazelle through a pride of lions I concentrated on defense, making me lion...the one who hunts, not the hunted. At a young age, like third grade, I moved from team to team....until finally our team had tryouts and cuts; we had gone select. With Mr. Flannery as the fitness stressing coach we ended up having an assortment of assitant coaches along the way. Assitant coach may be an over exaggeration of the situation, these were actually parents of some of the players who had a desire to coach, but respected that that position was already taken or perhaps did not have the time to devote to the tasks of a fulltime coach. Ariel Sabban's father was one assistant coach and John "Hilmay" Emikle's father was another. Each had a European background and had grown up with the sport of soccer. John's father was a stern man with dark skin that some of the parents called "Turk" in reference to his Turkish heritage. It was Mr. Flannery that stressed fitness, hustle, and focus while it was Turk Emikle that stressed forcing the man to the outside, get the ball, and why not take out the man.

These were the building blocks of sport for me. I played with these players and these coaches for many years and many more games all the way through grade school. As High School approached I foolishly quit my select team to allow myself to move from fullback to center half, and allow myself a little more glory as one of the key players. In the open league playing for Mr. Nolen we lived a soccer version of "The Bad News Bears." Each game was chock full of mishap and folly. Eventually, the Nolen team was no more. High School had begun and many of us had expectations of playing for our various High School teams. This of course is easier said then done. At this point in time Bethesda Chevy Chase's varsity team was on a roll. The had achieved near legendary status as a soccer powerhouse. It was niave of me to think that I could just walk up to tryout and become part of this team. Many of the would be players had spent time at soccer camps while most of the rest spent the summer afternoons playing pick up soccer and running drills. I showed up cold. Not in my best running shape and certainly not having a touch on the ball

No comments: