In the second half of my rec women’s soccer game, I rolled my ankle. As I tried to stand, it hurt. The game kept going on around me, and I heard someone yell at me, Go down on your knee. Go down! So I did.
That was the first of a series of supports and advice my teammates gave to help me to manage my ankle. Two teammates immediately put my arms around their necks and cinched my sides closely to hoist me up and walk me back to the bench. (I was surprised how easily the arrangement of our bodies helped me to get off the field quickly and with minimal weight on my foot.) A third teammate got me a bag of ice. Everyone checked in with me while the game continued and the lines were readjusted in my absence. After the game, from my teammates I got more compress and elevation ideas, Tylenol, and a drink.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am a relative newbie to soccer, and that apparently includes soccer injuries. So, in the midst of my own self-inflicted discomfort, I noticed the swift dispensing of just the right amount of knowledge, care, and support from my team.
No one on the team made me feel as if I were putting them out. No one judged, minimized, or questioned my “injury” (which quickly became clear was not serious). I also wasn’t coddled or patronized, which can feel awkward. Instead, I got everything I needed–physical support but also a silent assurance–that the team had my back when I was down. I know that I am not one of the stronger team players, but when I was hurt my teammates treated me like I was an MVP.
It’s easy to look at a team that is winning all the games, or playing with the best formations, and think, Wow, that’s a strong team. But that night my soccer friends showed me that perhaps an even better measure of a strong team is how it responds to moments of challenge and weakness. A team that is strong together doesn’t just bring out the best in its players: it willingly brings back and brings up its players, especially when they are feeling at their worst.
And then it keeps playing.
Thank you, team!