Never Scored a Goal

Patrick Yoder – Bettendorf, IA

My parents had me playing soccer from as early on as I can remember. I started with the local Park Board and YMCA and continued every fall until I was 11 or 12 years old.

I was very aware from a young age that I was not especially good at scoring goals – something that everyone else around me seemed to place a high importance on. I had a friend whose parents finally bought him a Nintendo (the original Nintendo) because he scored a goal in a game. Even as a kid I remember thinking that was an odd reward for a goal and felt fortunate enough that my parents did not require the same goal scoring abilities from me.

With new coaches early in the season, I would often find myself assigned to the back of the field as a defender. I was always determined to perform well, and did so, even garnering brief cheers from the parents and coaches when I prevented the opposing team from shooting on goal or scoring. But I never received cheers or applause quite like what a goal would conjure up from the crowd.

My parents never once showed disappointment in me, even while my brother two years younger than me was scoring a goal in almost every game he played in for his team. I never asked the coach to change my position and give me an opportunity at forward, as I did not even think that it was something I could ask for. I was not motivated to continue playing soccer once my parents gave me the option to leave the game behind, and that was the end of it.

As a small consolation, I did play small-sided indoor soccer one winter and managed to score a goal in a game. I knew it was not an equivalent challenge to traditional soccer, but it felt good to finally accomplish the feat and experience a small taste of success.