Catching Up With A Cardinal - Morgan Hendrickson
I wake up early Friday morning, August 16 to check in and help the freshmen move into their dorms. Throughout that day the team is thrown into a trail of meetings. No soccer for today, but no one can shake the constant reminder that fitness testing is creeping around the corner to welcome us the next morning. With 20 incoming freshman, a number that is basically equivalent to a brand new team, all players knew the competition was going to be intense. Going into preseason, everyone has a feeling of nervousness because we don't know what to expect. There is overwhelming excitement of starting a new beginning to a new season. We have the task of trying to carry on the legacy of Coach Koons and fill the big shoes of the past players accomplishments. I feel every player is stepping up to do so. It is bittersweet to say it was my last fitness test merely because I do not have to run another beep test in my life, Hallelujah! But, the downside is that it's my last preseason, ever. I will soon be ending the 19-year relationship with the beloved game of soccer. The season picks up quickly and before I can realize it, our team is back on the field again. We are playing and fighting to make each other better. Throughout all of the physical and mental stress of starting a new season and preparing for a new academic year, it is nice to have the stress relievers of team bonding. No, our team bonding does not consist of our players sitting in a circle introducing ourselves and giving an interesting fact. It more so consists of watching a movie on top of the science building at night, salad bowl or a rendering of Hollywood game night. Throughout these games you find out your players quirky talents. You find that some of the quiet players are actually quite witty, one of your players can actually sing, or someone's knowledge on celebrities. After all of the team bonding is over and our first season game is quickly arriving, it starts to register that this is my last year. It was an eye-opening statement when Coach Koons explained in a meeting that the freshman class has roughly 80 games left to the senior class only having 20. At this point, I have nothing to lose. I never really grasped the concept of my coach always telling us during practice to play like a senior. I thought it meant to play quicker, smarter or more physical. But, it is not that. It is to play with more heart. To play like every match is your last. Because, when the time comes for the last season of a sport that you've dedicated your life to, all you can do is leave everything on the field for your team, your coach and for your love of the game.