At the end of every soccer season - amateur, college or pro - I always feel like that guy in Forrest Gump who follows Forrest along his coast-to-coast jogs across the country. For years, this guy just follows Forrest across the country jogging with him. That is, until the bearded Gump stops suddenly, presumably somewhere in the southwest, and turns around to his disciples.
"Quiet, quiet! He's gonna say something!"
"I'm...pretty tired. I think I'll go home now."
After a dramatic pause, Forrest turns around and starts walking back to Greenbow, Alabama.
"Great - now what are we supposed to do?"
With the Anchorwomen season over, that dude is me right now.
Chuck Culpepper, one of my favorite sportswriters, penned a booked titled "Bloody Confused!"*, wherein he moves to England and becomes a Portsmouth fan. At the end of the EPL season, he states that "final days haul some pretty heavy emotions that grip even the insouciant creature, the sportswriter." Count me in as well.
(*Curiously, the title of the UK edition of his book is christened "Play Up Pompey!" Two very different titles for the same story. If I ever publish a book on the Anchorwomen, I will be sure that there are at least two variations of the title in an attempt to appear more worldly.)
One thing that made the season seem hurried was the fact that the first home game of the season wasn't played until September 20th, which surely didn't aid their early season success (they went 1-6 before finally playing at home). Yet, the same schedule also afforded me a wonderfully concentrated month and a half of Anchorwomen soccer.
Throughout that period, I met Coach Mike Koperda after I e-mailed him about my feature writing assignment for Advanced News Writing. His understanding, hospitality, and kindness unquestionably helped me ace the assignment. As a result, I was inspired to do a greater story on the team as a whole for my Advanced Creative Nonfiction class. Coach Mike allowed me to speak to whomever I needed to in order get the assignment rolling. My hope is that the story itself is an accurate reflection of what I, as well as he, already know: that this year's team, despite its record, was a special group.
I'm also thankful to Christina Tavana, who allowed me to speak with her to get that little feature done. The grade I received for it is just as much hers as it is mine. Coach Jessica Knobel, Kayla Fleming, Maddie Pirri, Danielle Martino and Kristina Haughey all took the time to chat after training and matches throughout the year. They are directly responsible for the miracle in itself that I'm more than halfway through the once-dreaded 20-page paper that's suddenly morphed into something I'd love to expand beyond twenty pages.
There are many things I'll miss. I'll miss cheering this team during midweek and Saturday afternoons. I'll miss the sudden RIC goals. I'll miss Maddie's incredible saves. I'll miss Christina's incredible seeing-eyes free kicks. I'll miss Kayla sneaking under defenders and putting quick shots on goal. I'll miss watching the backs come together as the season progressed. I'll miss Coach Mike shouting encouragement to his club from the sidelines, calling them "young guns" and "young bloods." I'll miss watching all of this under the picteresque foliage that is quintessential New England. I'll miss seeing that homely white sidewalk signs posted on each end of the campus proclaiming "Rhode Island College Athletics Event Tonight: RIC Soccer".
Most of all, I'll miss the people. I'll miss talking with Bob and Lisa Childs, whose daughter Jenna is turning into a fine left back for the team. I'll miss the post-game and post-training chats with Mike, Jess, Christina, Maddie, Kayla, and Danielle.
I have trouble believing that the Anchorwomen season is finished. Somehow, it doesn't seem right. I just saw them play their best match of the season. There has to be more.
It can't just stop - right?
For anyone near a radio tonight between 7-8pm, Revolution Recap's Sean Donahue has invited me to join him as the in-studio guest for tonight's show. We'll be discussing the First Leg of the Revolution-Fire Eastern Conference Semifinals, as well as Thursday's Second Leg.
The show can be heard live beginning at 7:05pm on WNRI 1380AM.
Feel free to submit your questions to Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you happen to miss the live broadcast, I'll post the link for the archived podcast on Monday.