Crack! I can still hear the sound my knee made when my body turned to hit the soccer ball, while my left cleat remained firmly attached to the ground. Crack! I fell on the green turf, and even though I felt no pain then and there, I knew something was wrong.
It has been nine long months since I tore my ACL. Nine months that included having surgery in a foreign country, walking with crutches in the snow, and enduring painful physical therapy sessions. Nine months during which I was not able to play soccer, and had no other choice except to contribute from beyond the white sidelines as a coach.
Each quarter, the Booth Soccer Club participates in a soccer tournament competing against the top MBA schools across the country. We usually fly two teams to Los Angeles, Austin and Hanover, to play seven games during one intense weekend. These tournaments have been my greatest experiences at school, so far. Not only because of the positive achievements on the field, but also because of the fun we have off the field. Many strong friendships were forged playing side-by-side with my band of brothers, and many more sharing a drink or two after the games. During these weekends this tight-knit soccer community becomes even closer, and the moments we share will remain forever etched in our memories.
This year we had the difficult job of keeping the Booth Soccer Team on top, after winning two of the three MBA tournaments last year. Many great players graduated before the summer, and naturally left the team, and now a new batch of up-and-coming first year students have the responsibility of filling that gap.
We arrived to a warm UCLA campus with high hopes, but knowing it was going to be a very tough tournament. After winning every consecutive game (including an 8-0 against our northern neighbors), we reached the final game against the UCLA Alumni team. It was a very, very tight match, and our players were exhausted after a very competitive weekend. That game finished 3-3 and unfortunately we lost the Finals in a penalty shootout…
We are now looking forward to taking our revenge at the UT McCombs tournament next quarter. Needless to say, I am personally very excited about this tournament, as it will be time for me to put my cleats back on, and cross the white sidelines, back to the field, where I belong.
While the Thanksgiving mood is still in the air — I am very thankful for all of my friends and my mother who helped me out through the recovery period: buying my groceries, taking notes in class or simply by cheering me up.