The Cliche

I have the potential to...

Forget for a moment all that you’ve heard about the student athlete. Forget about the dedication and determination one needs to compete on a top-level team. Forget about the teamwork, the almost insidious way an athlete learns the value of unselfishness. Forget too about how all the grace notes of being a top high school athlete often transfer into the academic side, creating an organized student who won’t back down from a challenge. For just one moment, put aside the paragon of skill and good character, because just briefly I want to introduce you to another character.

Here I am, right where I’ve been most of my life, in Port Townsend, a small town on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. If I walk a few blocks from my house, I can climb the Fort Worden bluff and look across the Straits of Juan De Fuca to Canada. The wind will no doubt be blowing; the cold Northwest rain misting. It’s no place to be a soccer player. And yet there I am, day after day, on a field at Fort Worden. I am six, then seven, eight, nine. The grass is sopping wet, and I think that sliding in the mud is almost as fun as scoring a goal. Ten, eleven…I’m playing now on another field, this one surrounded by a ten-foot blackberry...

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