**The town names have not been changed...please use discretion, k?Ever witnessed a "baby soccer" game? Blue and yellow socks stretched up over tiny knees? Whole teeny shins kicking the ball with all their might? Course you have...
Protect the innocent, and all...thanks.**
Protect the innocent, and all...thanks.**
The last soccer game for the Trenton Firecats also happened to be the very last game of the season for the whole town. The bright blue sky was electric with excitement, and quite the crowd of "pickle" parents had gathered to cheer, as well as grandparents who had traveled long distances to delight in their star players' achievements.
With a 10-2 record in tow, Trenton's players were pumped. In stark contrast, Benson's extremely little team had yet to score in a game. As the game began, it became obvious that this would not only be a shutout victory for Trenton, but another humiliation for Benson. Trenton's virtual giants were dribbling circles around Benson's little ones, but size had no impact on their determination. The game clock continued to count down, but they never gave up.
Trenton's coach had a problem. How do you teach the kids good sportsmanship without disappointing the grandparents due to a lack of playing time for their star? Finally, every Trenton player had enjoyed some time in the spotlight. Even the Trenton players who didn't usually score had watched their kick push the ball across the goal line. As the whistle signaled the beginning of the final quarter, the parents across the field watched with despair. Still, the little team kept trying, but to no avail.
Filled with sympathy for the tiny team, Trenton's coach developed a plan. Thus, the most memorable game of the season began to unfold. First she swapped the defenders and the forwards. The questioning looks on Trenton's faces were soon squelched by the smile of their trusted coach, but the little legs of the Benson players still couldn't keep up. Then, she completely sidelined the defenders, leaving only the goalie--who had never played goalie before--to guard the net. When the game paused for another scored goal, one young Benson player needed serious "tissue" help, but it was Trenton's coach who ran out to him with the Kleenex. The Benson parents were dumbfounded.
The electricity in the air was almost tangible as both sides waited with baited breath for Benson to score. A girl on Trenton's team was instructed to "throw the ball in" to a Benson player. Her quizzical look vanished as she and the rest of her team began to understand. She quickly smiled and obeyed. Time was running short, so Trenton's coach called time out. After explaining the situation to the ref, she requested that he not call the game until Benson scored.
As one young Benson player dribbled the soccer ball down the field, Trenton's coach yelled for the goalie to get completely off the field. As he started for the sideline, excitement overwhelmed the little Benson players who believed they had somehow made it passed the goalie! The Benson parents were cheering in amazement and anticipation as they watched the last kick toward the goal. When it crossed the line, the eruption from the crowd was euphoric. The game had ended, but the score didn't matter. Cheers mixed with tears on all sides of the field.
Amid all the chaos, one of the Benson grandparents came to the Trenton coach. With tear stained cheeks she explained that Benson's coach had known from the start that they were too small to ever hope for a win. His goal for the team was simply to score one goal for the year. Here, at the last game of the season, they had finally achieved their goal.
Pardon if you've heard it before, but this story resides close to my heart (therefore worthy of a spot on this blog). Mostly because I see it as a portal to my Savior. Pretty sure there have been plenty of times where I'm flailing toward a goal line, naive to the beautiful orchestration of my Father in Heaven making me feel successful and my path seem plausible. And, although I know it is impossible to succeed on my own, He knows the effort it takes for me to continue dribbling...