Personal Heroes

by ambergalore

The wind blew through the trees, tapping the branches gently against the glass.  Andre looked outside and said aloud, “Today is perfect!”  A smile was plastered on his face, grinning from ear to ear.  Today was the first day for soccer tryouts.

“But Baby, isn’t the wind back for your game?”  Andre’s Mom asked with a confused look upon her face.

“No, ma, not when you know how to use it to your advantage!”  Andre replied as he jumped down from the stool he was sitting on.  He began stretching out his arms, pulling them back behind his head before going into a set of lunges.

“Be careful, baby!  You can’t injure those million dollar legs before they even get a chance to start!”   His Mom said with a soft chuckle.

“Oh, Mom, I have to stretch, I need to be at my best today!”  He replied with pure enthusiasm.

When he was done Andre ran into his bedroom and stuffed his soccer jersey into his backpack.  He wasn’t on the team yet, nor had he even been on any team, but if he was going to try out, he would look the part!  He started to zip up his backpack and whispered under his breath;  watch over me today, Ronaldo!  I need all the luck I can get.  Cristiano Ronaldo had been Andre’s favorite soccer player since he was a kid.  He begged and begged until his parents ordered special channels on TV so he could watch the Spanish games, which he could not even understand.  It didn’t matter though. To him it was all about the sport, the technique.  It was exhilarating to watch Ronaldo play.

“You’re going to be late, Andre!  Let’s go!”  he heard his Mom yell from the living room.

Late!  I can’t be late for tryouts, he thought to himself.  He quickly threw his backpack on and went racing out to meet his Mom by the door.

On the drive over there he couldn’t help but let his nerves get the best of him.  There was a permanent lump stuck in his throat, his mouth was like a desert, and his stomach had been invaded by butterflies.  He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, trying to relax.  Just as it was beginning to subside his Mom rang out in a singsong voice, “We’re here!”

All hope was lost.

Andre pulled his bag out and waved to his Mom with a shaky hand.  As he approached the field he could see the two intimidating coaches surrounded by the captain and various other higher ranking seniors.  His stomach turned at the thought; watching the other candidates practice while they waited for their turn only made him more anxious.  How did they get so good?  He thought to himself.  His worry was starting to turn into pessimism.  I’ll never make it past those guys, they’re all too good, he said to himself, the negative feelings beginning to overwhelming him.

It took some time before his name was finally called.  At that point he was feeling so dejected, wondering why he was even trying out at this point.  As he made his way down the bleacher stands he remember something, “my backpack!”  he said loudly with everyone turning around to stare.  “Sorry, just one second, I need to grab something,” he told the impatient judges.

He opened up his bag to reveal his treasure Ronaldo jersey.  What would Ronaldo do?  He thought to himself.  He knew what he needed to do.  Everyone had to start somewhere, right?  And rejection was a part of life, he pondered.

He shamelessly put his jersey on and ran out onto the field.  One of the assistants rolled him a soccer ball.  There were no introductions just a simple, “Let’s see what you got,” in a very apathetic voice from one of the judges.

Andre closed his eyes for just a second and thought of Ronaldo on the field.   He opened them and began moving in ways he didn’t even know he could move.  He kicked the ball back with his foot, captured it, tossed it up, and bounced it between his knees.  Kneeing the ball back to the ground he began running with it and around it, letting himself get it and then interfering.  Finally, he topped it off with a kick that sent the ball high into the air.  Right before it got too close to him Andre jumped up and hit the ball with his head, sending it flying into the goal.

It took him a few minutes to come back to the world around him but when he did, he saw the judges faces, in a similar blank stare.

“Thank you, Andre, We will give you a call when we have made our decision,” the head coach said in a flat tone.

Andre wanted to yell out, that was it?  No smile, no feedback?  But he resisted, knowing it would only hurt his chances in the long run.

With a quick nod of his head he walked back home instead of calling his Mom.  He felt like he already knew the news, how could he not?  Their faces told him everything he needed to know.  It was a five mile walk back to the house, but he needed time to think about it and let it go.  “Next year,” he said trying to reassure himself.

As he approached his house he saw his Mom outside with the phone, looking around.

“ANDRE!”  she yelled loudly across the street.

Andre jogged over to her as she mouthed, “It’s about the team!”

Is this some sort of we regret to inform you non-sense, a courtesy call?  He thought to himself.

Regardless, he took the phone with a sheepish, “Hello?”

“Andre!  It is Coach Harper.  I must say, and I don’t do this often, you were one of the most talented players there today.  I haven’t seen anything like that in years!”  The coach told him with amazement in his voice.

“But… I,”  Andre was speechless.

“If we were allowed to favor players publicly you would have gotten a standing ovation from me!” the coach continued on, “I insist you join our team this year!”

“I don’t know what to say…” Andre let slip out.

“Well… I hope you say yes!” he replied.

“Oh, yes! I’d love to.  Thank you so much, sir!  You won’t regret it, I promise!”  Andre said, practically yelling into the phone.

“Great.  Practice starts Monday at 4pm. I’ll see you there.”  Coach Harper finished before hanging up.

Andre looked down at his jersey, still flabbergasted.  “I knew we could do it Ronaldo, I knew it!”

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