It was about 10 p.m. on a weeknight my first year when the EMU wellness center doctor called me and recommended I go to the hospital. After visiting the Wellness Suite, athletic training room, and multiple other doctors over several weeks, everyone was stumped. Why was I losing feeling in my fingers, having trouble with coordination and talking, and why did I feel so dizzy? It was nothing major, of course; it had to be some weird phase I was going through due to stress, or so I thought. But I could not even run without feeling like I was running on a cruise ship in the middle of a storm, so it had to be something.
That night, against my will, three teammates took me to RMH. Despite thinking that it was a waste of time, because the doctors would probably not find anything, the drive was serene. Bob Marley playing on the radio did nothing more but improve my positivity that everything was going to be all right. Three days later, after many probing tests to my brain, spinal cord, blood, and even cerebral spinal fluid, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I remember sitting in the hospital bed, an 18-year-old, college freshman, 250 miles away from home. What in the world just happened to me? The opportunities that everyone promised to me growing up were suddenly taken. At that moment, I was doomed to a life of hardship, limitation, and reliance on others.
Now, as a senior, I realize that I was wrong. Was it the time that all of my teammates made me “Get Well” cards and visited me in the hospital, or was it the time they cheered me on and held me up when I could not stand in the heat of the moment? My team has been here for me, through thick and thin.
The seniors graduating this year are not just good role models, good athletes, and wickedly smart. They are some of the best people I have ever met. They know how to genuinely love, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to play with them. These seniors, my friends, have changed my life and saved me from walking down a very dark and lonely path.
The sweat and blood we shared on the turf, south practice field, Bomburger, the track, in the Fitness Center, and on the numerous fields of other schools we played at were not in vain. The training we put in during the offseason was not a waste of time. The care we took for each otherto hold one another up, to love each other, and share life’s special moments with each other, created a bond between us that will never be broken.
Speaking for all the seniors, it will be hard not playing college soccer. Will any of us ever play at a highly competitive level again? Only time and hard work will say. But, perhaps what is even harder for us, is knowing that we are leaving each other.
I remember tearing up during many of our huddles this fall, knowing how much I would miss it. Now, it is gone for me, but our legacy lives on in the hearts of our teammates. The love and joy and sacrifice that we gave is thriving and creating new relationships between the teammates that we are leaving behind.
Our legacy is one of determination and strength, and, with God’s grace, has the potential to be the cornerstone of a new legacy for the EMU women’s soccer team.
This journey has been unforgettable. Not just playing soccer, which, I admit was awesome and fun, but the part where I found life-long friends. They are the ones I will think of in five, 10, 15 years when I think of playing soccer.