Being a wild card is my glory.
I joined a recreational, indoor, co-ed soccer league (how many more adjectives could I have needed there?), and went to my first game late Monday night. The game was so late, in fact, one of my new teammates commented about how much he enjoyed Tuesday morning soccer. When you are the fresh meat on a team that has been playing together for any length of time, you have two options:
1. Be intimidated.
2. Work it.
The intimidation factor is natural. Everyone else knows how they are going to play, and how to play with each other. They can anticipate moves, motions, and skill, and react appropriately. But this fear can be crippling to your game, and not allow you to play to your ability. Being timid on the field for any game is no bueno; it does not help you, and more importantly, it does not help the team.
Working it makes much more sense. Grab that T-shirt that you infused with self-assuredness (for me, it is my Buffalo Bill’s Pulque shirt I got while waitressing) and wrap yourself up in it. Play like you grew up playing with the team, like you all ran around playing Cat & Mouse at youth league soccer practice together back in third grade. Working it also entails more than on-field confidence. Developing an off the field rapport is essential to the team environment, and to understanding how everyone plays.
When I hit the field for the first time with a new team, I like to warm up by myself for a few minutes, then join in with what all the old-timers are doing as their routine – taking shots on goal, or one-touching the ball around. Chit-chat, keep it low key, and asking a few questions is a gold mine. If you can be comfortable with them, they can be comfortable with you. It makes the whole team play a lot more exciting and inclusive.
But I have to admit, while I am not a diva soccer player (or anything close to it), I revel in the notion that for the first half of my first game, no one knows what to expect of me. Not the other team, and not even my team. I might be the best freaking soccer player they have ever seen, or I might be pittier than cherry pits. Freedom from a pigeon hole, from being a known as the Queen of Spades or the Seven of Diamonds, gives me the chance to reinvent myself, and be anything at all.
The Solo Soccer Club has not disbanded; just added a few collaborative members for better productivity, and definitely more fun.