Like any new mom, I anxiously awaited my daughter's first word. "Mama," I would say to Avery. "Tree." "Sky." "Hi." Finally, at around eight months, it happened. She crawled across the mat in our Manhattan apartment, toward a pile of toys and said, "Ball." (In fairness, it sounded more like "Bah," but I knew what she meant.) From that moment on, it seemed like Avery always had a ball around — beach ball, nerf ball, tennis ball, beach ball and, eventually and most significantly, soccer ball.
Fast forward six years, we moved to Massachusetts and our backyard slowly but surely became a makeshift soccer field with two nets and no fewer than a dozen balls always strewn about. Avery played for our town and joined a club team, which meant that on any given week, I had to drive her a different soccer field somewhere in New England. Just like it seemed like she never got enough soccer, our car never seemed to have enough gas and we refueled our tank like we refilled water bottles.
So I shouldn't have been surprised, I guess, when not too long ago, I got an email with our latest training destination: "Buckingham, Browne and Nichols, Gerry's Landing...." I didn't need to read anymore nor did I need Waze to map our route. "MY OLD SCHOOL!" I exclaimed. "You're practicing on Friday night at BB&N, on the soccer field I played on!" Avery gave me a side eye. Sure, she'd heard me talk (and talk and talk) about attending BB&N. She'd met many of the friends I'd gone to BB&N with over the years. And she had heard, vaguely, in an ancient history kind of way, that I'd once been a soccer player and not simply a soccer mom. Still, I'm pretty confident she didn't think I'd be this excited to go back to my alma mater. Needless to say, this was one drive I could not wait to do. The dreaded Friday night carpool slot? Bring it. I was so ready.
As we pulled into the Upper School parking lot that evening, I did a silent cheer when I scored a coveted space close to the cafeteria. (Old habits die hard.) We walked back to the field together — and I stopped and blinked twice. It felt like coming home... to find your house completely renovated. Gone was the grass, gone were the sideline bleachers, and gone was the giant mud puddle that seemed ubiquitous in the rainy, cold New England fall. It looked small — yet at the same time huge — and instantly so many memories of playing on Mr. Deveney's team came rushing back.
All the practices, so many games — and suddenly it *almost* seemed like I was back on the field at Family Day in October 1988 as we faced a fierce Nobles team. Fans squeezed together on the sidelines to watch an incredibly tight game that ended in a 1-1 tie when the Nobles striker missed a penalty kick in the final minutes. The crowd was cheering, our team was screaming, and the adrenaline rush I felt that day was truly one of the first sports highs I'd ever experienced. It was a moment I'll never forget — and now, upon reflection, it's helped me understand one of the reasons why Avery is so hooked on soccer: the joy you feel playing the game you love and the shared bond you create with your teammates. I have BB&N to thank for giving me the opportunity to experience those things 30 years ago — and again now for helping me understand the passion that drives my daughter.