by cam smith
Playing soccer is a lot of work. It’s a constant sport which requires plenty of strength, agility, focus, and perseverance. The training is difficult and the practices are strict. In short, it’s a tedious game to play and the defeat hurts worst because of the effort that has gone into it. However, this is nothing to people who love soccer. People who truly love the game are able to overlook the hard work in favor of the thrill it brings to them.
Craig Paul was one of these people. He loved soccer with all his heart even though it took every ounce of energy he had to play it. The thing was, Craig suffered from a mild case of Multiple Sclerosis which made playing on his high school soccer team very complicated for him. He had been diagnosed early for his age. Some days he just felt so tired, like he just could not run another foot. Other days everything seemed bright and he felt perfectly healthy. Craig’s doctors had told him he would feel this way and there were certain rules he had to follow in order to ensure that he would be safe from further harm such as taking cold showers after practices and games, doing extra stretch trainings to counteract muscle spasticity and shortening, and more. Also, Craig’s play time was limited. His coach never allowed him to play a full game due to his condition. At first, Craig had a hard time coming to terms with this decision, even though he knew it was for the best. He knew his body could only take so much now, but it didn’t really hit him until he played his first game. That game began like normal. Craig felt a little fatigued every now and then, but he still felt good and he kept on going. He pushed and pushed himself so hard, ignoring his body’s eventual protests, and defying his mind telling him to stop until when in the sixtieth minute his body hurt so badly and he was so tired and overheated that he had to be rushed to the hospital. After that night Craig had felt incredibly discouraged. He loved soccer so much that he had ignored his body’s cries hoping that the extra strenuous activity would only strengthen him, and yet, instead, it had hurt him. Craig would be forced to recognize his limits. As he lay in bed, he thought this over until he felt tired again and fell asleep. The next morning, Craig’s mother had a few words for him. She had noticed how down and depressed he felt about what happened and had brought him an article to read. The article was about a basketball player who made Pro with MS. He started in the lower league, but had recently been picked up by the NBA. He didn’t get to start yet, but he was in training and would be able to play soon.
“You see,” his mother told him, “you don’t have to let your limits limit you completely. I hope that makes sense to you because it is crucial.”
It did make sense to him. It also inspired him. If there were others out there who had made it that far, then he knew he could make it too. Just because he had now been limited to only forty minutes a game, doctor’s orders, didn’t mean he had to give up. He would play this forty minutes with everything he had and he would not let his disease define him. Once Craig had recovered, he couldn’t wait to get onto the field again. Now, two years later, Craig was a senior and was ready to graduate. He was also ready to go to college and hopefully get his forty minutes a game. He couldn’t give up on soccer. If his body could do it, he would do it. He wanted to be an inspiration to other kids just like the basketball star he had read about. Nothing can define you unless you let it. This was the lesson he wanted everyone to learn.