I remember it well–the day a Chevrolet ended my soccer career. It was a brisk, Saturday morning in early October when my dream came to a crashing end. My course of my life was permanently altered that day.
How I got here
It was 1987 (I was 11) and I was in the prime of my life, performing like no other keeper in league history. On this particular day, dad was attending Boy Scout Scoutmaster training. Mom was caring for my brother who was being fed intravenously in preparation for chemotherapy. For me, it was the day of the big league championship soccer game. As keeper, I had led my team to an undefeated season–averaging just one goal allowed every 3 games. I’m won’t deny the strength of the offense and defense, but it’s common knowledge that the keeper is the most important position on the field and I excelled! All of the high school recruits were going to be there and I was ready! As my normal drivers were all unavailable, so my grandfather drove me to the game.
This would be one of the few times that I would be playing without my dad in attendance but I still wanted to make him proud! So, I put on my game face, got in the car and headed to the game of my life!
When we got to the stadium (A soccer field behind Greenfield Elementary School), my grandfather stopped the car. (He and grandma were going grocery shopping during my game—they didn’t plan to watch history in the making) As I got out of the car, I realized that I was still wearing my glasses (At this time, I could see without them to play, but not to read or anything else) and I turned around to hand them to my grandmother. My grandfather always had an impatient streak and as soon as I had opened the car door and stepped out, he let his foot off the brake. He did this–he said–to help close the door. The problem this time is that my left foot was in the path of the rear tire.
My foot was in the path of a 1986 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon–a 4,000 lb beast with its sights on me! The rear tire rolled up on top of my left foot and I immediately gasp and my eyes popped out on to the back seat. Seeing these events unfold, my grandmother grabbed my grandfather and he STOPPED THE CAR! There I’m standing with a car sitting on my foot and grandma says “Edwin, I think you’re on his foot!” He realized immediately what happened and backed up. He got out, ran around the car and put me back in the car. I initially resisted but realized that my foot hurt too much to play.
My game ended before it ever started. At the hospital we learned that the heal was cracked and would require a cast and 6-weeks on crutches. While I spent my Saturday at the hospital, my backup led my team to the league championship allowing only one goal. (I’d have stopped that one too) That Chevrolet ended my soccer career. I spent the next weeks on crutches, hobbling through the halls while I watched my former backup take all the glory. The next season, I spent 3 games riding the bench behind him as I rehabbed. When he got injured, I came in and performed admirably, but my mobility was hindered. The last game of the season I sprained the ankle and sat out the championships again.
When the season ended, I was traded to an expansion team (All my teammates were older and went to the next age group–I stayed behind with a bunch of rookies). That first year we ended the season 0-4-4. The rookies on my team did not grasp how to play offense or defense so it was only my skills in the box that kept us from going 0-8. In one game, my teammates even scored twice on ME. (They also didn’t know that when you pass back to the keeper, you don’t kick it over his head)! My final year, at the age of 14, I severely sprained the ankle two more times and we went 2-6. (I wasn’t dumb enough to admit to anyone about these sprains–I was playing!)
What was and was to be
After 8 years on the soccer field, I finally retired. I had to decide to either retire or move on to the high school league but I knew my ankle wouldn’t hold up. I remember many of those games fondly, but the time the Chevrolet ended my soccer career is not one of them. In later years, I considered becoming a place kicker for our football team. I even attempted a comeback with Rose-Hulman (intramural) football, but that dream ended 15 minutes into the first practice with another injury. I have since hung up the cleats and now I’m a programmer!