Monday, March 9, 2015

Goalie Extraordinaire

Yesterday, it seemed to be a bit of a grandiose, perhaps even narcissistic, claim on my part. It was posted in comment to a video that a friend shared, and then I shared. It’s an easy video to find. Google, ‘Scott Sterling Goalie’, or just click here.  Here is the story of why I would say that my claim is not grandiose.

As a youth, my parents wanted my brother and I to try sports. All of the sports. Thankfully, my love of sports allowed me to escape the grid-iron for peewee football and I lacked coordination and size for basketball. So by junior high, I had 2 seasons of Babe Ruth Baseball, 2 seasons of wrestling, and the start of 6 seasons of soccer. I really loved soccer.

Unfortunately, the same coordination that is needed for basketball is also needed for soccer. I started, like all kids, wanting to make the score. I tried forward, center and wings. I wasn’t great. Dribbling the ball with my feet was difficult back then, though today I can with ease, as I discovered while coaching. So the coach decided to work my way back.

As half-backs, I still had to do some dribbling, and a bit more passing to the forwards. I had a few passes intercepted. So back I went. Coach Montoya of the John Deere Bucks,  tried me for a game at fullback.  Surely all I need to do was stop the ball so the half back, or goalie can retrieve the ball. Then I moved over to the bench.

Yep, I would spend the next season and a half playing bench jockey. I would play the minimal when the coach thought my damage would be inconsequential, if we were losing or if we had such a lead that I possibly blow it. Sometimes in dire emergencies, like a boy failing to show up for the game, I would find more play time.

I forget the name of the second team I played bench jockey. It was the Allstate Bulldogs led by Coach Watson. He tried to work with me, to help me overcome the reputation for being a poor player. Yet nothing could help. I just ran too stiffly. I moved too gangly, and sometimes just too slow to make a power play.

Then the second game happened. The goalie twisted his ankle and the backup was home sick. This forced to coach into a hard pressed decision. He needed a goalie, but he also needed the second sub to be able to fill in relief for the other positions. Which risk would he take? Hope that the team can keep the ball away from the goalie, or put in someone who is decent all over the field and lose the offense?

He took a gamble and hoped that his offense and even defense could keep the ball from the goalie’s box. His gamble failed. The other team’s offense was on fire. 5 times, they moved the ball past the defenders to the goalie. Five times, the goalie stopped that ball and moved it back out. (Why none of my coaches thought to try me here, who knows?)

You see, the rules for the goalie are TOTALLY DIFFERENT than the rules for the rest of the team. The rest of the team can pass the ball using only their feet, heads, legs and torso. Use of shoulders was iffy because a “hands” call will be heard if the ball hits too low on the arms. The ball can only be dribbled using one’s feet. For the goalie, stop that ball by ANY MEANS necessary. Use any manner to move the ball. I’ve even dribbled the ball like a basketball while waiting for my offenders to get into position. It was a game changer for me.

I no longer had to use my feet to dribble the ball. I could pick it up if it was in the backfield. I could even charge offenders when they stepped inside my box. Kick me? That’s a penalty! I was brutal. I dove on that ball. I kissed that ball. I caught that ball. I punted that ball.

Since the preferred goalie twisted his ankle, he was out, and I was in. In the course of time, the goalie I replaced became my backup. For the next 3 season, counting most of the first season, I would play goalie until I aged out at 17. In that time, the ref has pulled me for medical concerns, or the coach as, so I can tend my mouth (I would use my face to stop the ball, and I didn’t allow my braces to hold me back.)

Now as I enjoyed recalling my journey to being a goalie, I am first and foremost a preacher. I look for spiritual applications, spiritual life lessons as I walk this life. And being the goalie, there is a life lesson.

Goalies are odd ducks because we are not required to play by the rules. We have a different set of rules. We love it. As a Christian, I noticed that there is more than one set of rules. The world has the rules of do what pleases you, as long as you are happy, until it infringes on someone else’s happy. If that happens, do what pleases you and not get caught infringing on someone else’s happy.

The Christian has this rule, “Consider others better than yourself” (Philippians 2.3).  In a world where selfishness reigns supreme, we are called to be different. We are called to put others’ needs first, because in reality, that is what God did for us. He put our needs first.

You see our need is to be in fellowship with our Creator, our Heavenly Father. (This is our greatest need despite the lies that we’ve concluded to be truth because we’ve heard them for so long.) But because of our sinfulness, God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay our penalty for our sins.

When we accept that gift, when we are clothed in Christ, that’s our game changer. That’s when we start living a life with a new set of rules summed up, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And likewise, love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.37).

To think about that, those aren’t really rules. But that is our game changer. Let us live any means necessary to love God and to love our neighbor. (Perhaps I’ve been too oft hit in the head with the football.)

No comments:

Post a Comment