Fish out of water: swimmer switches from pool to pitch

December 15, 2010 — by Tim Rollinson

Since freshman year my niche has been the pool. I have long been defined as an aquatic creature and my athletic career has (until this point) been contained within the lane lines and the water polo cage.

This reputation is likely the reason it seemed like so many people were staring at me when I showed up for soccer tryouts or it may have been the baby blue socks that had clearly become obsolete since my days as a youth on the soccer field. The question accompanying the stares: “You play soccer?”
The best response I could muster was, “It’s been a while.”

Some of my earliest memories are on the soccer field. I played for the first time when I was 5 and fell in love with the sport. Of course, at that point, it was more similar to kickball than actual soccer. I stuck with the sport through eighth grade, but, coming from an aquatic lineage, I chose to leave the pitch for the pool.

I never quite gave up my love for soccer, but among my many activities, I never thought about returning until earlier this year.

It started as a joke with the water polo team. One day, dribbling a water polo ball on the deck, I told my teammates I was going to try out for soccer. The joke grew and grew until eventually my mind was set. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I figured senior year is the time to tie all loose ends. I figured it was better to try and fail then to regret never even trying.

Some friends got me in contact with the team captain and star, junior Manish Raghavan. Not only was he extremely helpful and encouraging in my odd venture back into soccer, he astonished me with his game skills on the field and his leadership skills off it. Once I had the support of Manish, the choice was simple. I was trying out for soccer.

I showed up to the first day of tryouts ready to burst from excitement and nervousness. Some of the fear faded when I met the coach, Adam Clarke, who seemed to appreciate my character. Within the first 10 minutes of being on the field, I was exhausted. I figured the best way to impress the coach was running until I dropped. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the best shape for that much running and I started to wear down very quickly. I left the tryout anxious and fearful of the embarrassment of failure.

The next couple of days went better. I was becoming better on the ball and more acclimated to the motions and skills. During a scrimmage at one of the tryouts, a ball was played to me in the air. I took a swing at the ball with my right leg before it could hit the ground and the ball floated over the keepers gloves. This goal was not only the confidence booster I needed but also probably what saved my spot on the team.

Did I mention I made the team?

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