Why I Stuck With Soccer

Darian Ruderman – Long Island, NY

When I was in middle school, I had a falling out with a group of my best friends — all of whom were on my soccer team. I had always loved soccer, ever since I started playing when I was 5 years old, so the feeling of the game being unenjoyable for me was a foreign one. Warmup jogs where we used to gossip about the earlier school day became quiet and lonely; my former friends didn’t choose me for passing and shooting drills anymore. During games, those girls would ignore me on the sidelines and on the field. I didn’t just lose my best friends; I lost my teammates.

I started to come home from practices and games upset, and I thought I would be unhappy for as long as I continued to play soccer. After seeing my sulking continue, my parents sat me down and told me if I wasn’t enjoying the game anymore, I should quit.

The “Q” word?! I had never even thought of that. Did I really want to give up something that took up so much of my life — the game that made me happy for so many years?

My parents talked with me about trying out for another town’s soccer team the next season and starting fresh with a new group of girls. I would give myself the last few weeks of the season to decide whether I would stay, leave for another team, or quit soccer altogether.

In those few weeks, I started participating in drills with teammates that I hadn’t really gotten to know off the field in the years prior. I found new partners for drills and the long warmup jogs around the field before practice didn’t feel so lonely anymore.

I still loved soccer, and I realized that my parents sitting me down and reminding me that I had options — to stay on the team, leave, or quit — let me be able to enjoy the game again. I had the power of choice, the freeing power of choice, and the power to decide what was going to make me happy going forward. Although my problems with soccer didn’t start on the field, outside factors had affected my love for the game, something I never thought could happen.

It's okay to waver in your love for sports, and knowing that some days (or weeks, or months) will be harder than others. Playing one sport, or multiple, can be extremely time consuming. For something that takes up so much time and so much of your childhood, make sure that you are doing what makes you happy.

I ultimately stuck with soccer because after having the choice to walk away, I couldn’t see my life without it. I really did love it and it really did make me happy. Find teammates who will stick by your side, both on and off the field, and remember to have fun.