To My Teammates, Thank You

Holly Cornille – Northbrook, IL

We were in sudden death overtime against Indiana University in the opening round of the 2005 Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament. My teammate had the ball on the end line and I was at the top of the circle cutting towards the goal. She hit the ball to my right; I saw the goalie come off her line leaving the far-side post wide open. I barely got to the ball in time, but as I did, I dove and shot on net knowing I had the goalie beat. Time felt like it slowed down. As the ball flew past the goalie, I thought we had won the game to advance to the next round, keeping the season alive. But no. The ball hit the inside of the post and bounced out. Indiana 2, Northwestern, 1 – season over.

In the post-game huddle, my teammates and I were devastated. We had given it our all and still felt like we let ourselves down. I especially felt awful missing the game winning goal, but to my surprise, I never felt that my teammates were disappointed in me because of it. I knew, as did they, that we were in it together. Win together, lose together; we were a family.

This loss was one of the team’s lowest lows. But just the week prior, we experienced one of our highest highs, defeating the University of Iowa in sudden death overtime to cap the end of the regular season. I’ll never forget sprinting to the other side of the field with my teammates and piling on top of our goalie. While this time around I was fortunate enough to shoot and score, it didn’t feel like I scored to win the game, but rather we scored as a team. My teammate who beat two players one-on-one to get me the ball in front of the net was the one who I felt deserved the credit.

We survived the lows and celebrated the highs together. We showed up every day for each other on the field and off, enduring brutal three-a-day practices and supporting each other through challenging life events. I still remember lining up on the end line not knowing how many sprints we were about to run, but just knowing that with my teammates’ support, encouragement, and unrelenting belief in one another, we could get through it.

A handful of successful and unsuccessful plays have stuck with me through the years; plays that I can still remember in detail, including the emotions that immediately followed. However, I can’t tell you any season records from my field hockey, basketball, soccer, or ice hockey days. I can’t tell you what years we won State in high school, or how many points, rebounds, steals, or goals I had. But I can vividly remember every teammate I ever had and the bonds we shared that will never be broken.

I am beyond grateful for all my teammates. I know that no matter how much time passes, if a teammate were to ever need me, I would be there for them, just as I know they would be there for me. I am so thankful that sports gave me the opportunity to build my own lifelong team of best friends and supporters. What more could anyone ask for?

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