Trial = Opportunity

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We all look forward to 3 day weekends. They usually represent more opportunities to sleep in and watch Netflix all day. At least that’s the dream. Many of us set out to do these things until we get ambitious with events with family, friends, and projects. And before we know it, we have to go back to work and we are more tired than before. I call that needing a vacation from your vacation.

My 3 day weekend for Memorial Day was pretty low key. I drove down to Salem to visit my family for my mother’s birthday. I don’t get to see them as often as I used to since I moved up to Seattle so I try take advantage of when I can. I came back up mid Sunday and went to a team barbeque which was fun. Monday night I had practice. After practice I was facing the exhaustion of the weekend as I parked my car at my apartment complex. I normally take my football bag out of the car. However, I must have been tired and distracted and completely forgot it as I went inside and quickly passed out.

The next morning I woke up groggy and got ready for work. I went outside to my car. As I was approaching I noticed a lot of glass. At first my tired mind thought, oh someone must have broken a bottle. Then I realized there was way more glass and saw my back driver’s side window busted in. I looked around the car and the radio and everything was fine. I then felt like I was missing something and it suddenly hit me that I had left my bag in my backseat and that it was now completely gone.

The moment of shock turned into a oh, my, god. How am I going to replace everything by my game on Saturday?! Followed by the realization that not only was my helmet, pads, cleats, and gloves in there but also my All-American Jersey from last year. The practice jerseys we ordered are smaller than I thought so mine is about the size of a belly shirt circa early 90s so I prefer to wear my All-American Jersey because it’s my favorite and it fits. But this is something I can’t replace. They don’t just sell them in stores somewhere. It’s an honor to earn one.

Then I snapped back into action of what am I going to do? So I had to call work and let them know I’d be late. I called the 911 to report it and they gave me a website that I could report it to online. I called my trusted teammate to let her know so I could try to get ahead of what to do about finding new equipment. I called my insurance company. I then went outside, took a towel, and knocked out the rest of the glass the best I could. Then I drove to work feeling more chilly than normal.

I called my parents. They are great at giving me perspective and advice on what to do with things like this. I went to work and tried to take care of everything and work at the same time. I filed the police report.  I posted to my team on Facebook to see if people had extra gear I could borrow. That’s when something interesting happened.

The support was tremendous. My phone was blowing up from people wanting to help and offering equipment left and right. A couple people suggested a Gofundme site. I found out my team was going to help me order a helmet and pads but I knew I would need to pay them back so I thought a gofundme site couldn’t hurt. The response was ridiculously amazing. Several people from across the country either reached out to me offering help with equipment or donating funds.

I found myself feeling like I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I really honestly didn’t care much about my window. That’s what car insurance is for. And for people outside of football it can be difficult to understand the connection you have with your gear. But by the nature of the game, you need a lot of equipment. And each piece of equipment you need to break it and adjust to your particular likes. It involves a lot of trial and error. You will adjust your helmet many times, get on the field, and realize it doesn’t feel quite right, take it off, and adjust again. Shoulder pads are similar. You know exactly which notch on each side to pull the straps to where it is tight but comfortable. You know exactly how tight to tie your cleats. As I spoke of before, football players are mostly creatures of habit and to mess with that is irritating to us.

The time restraint was daunting. To order a helmet usually takes a couple of weeks. And you have to make sure it has the right facemask and it’s the right color. And to be honest, this equipment is not cheap. If you play long enough, you realize being comfortable is worth the price and you start to add nicer and nicer pieces. Also, better equipment means less injuries. I’d rather pay a higher price to protect my head.

The response from everyone in their understanding of these issues and their quick action to help, made me go from one end of the roller coaster to the other. It’s humbling that people took time out to care.

That is why I push so hard for this sport. It’s a natural fraternity. It doesn’t matter if you play on completely different ends of the country or even the world. You could know absolutely nothing about someone personally except that they play the sport you love too, and you have an instant bond. It also doesn’t matter that you could be fierce competitors on the field. After the game we are all on the same team. We take care of each other. I don’t think you see that often in many sports. It truly is special.

I am truly honored to be part of this. It kind of leaves me in awe.

Thank you everyone.

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