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Director's Note

We All Have to Work Tomorrow

I would like to take a minute to explain something concerning this coed soccer league.

   Each summer, we gather as players from all walks of life. Men and women. Moms, dads, and young adults. Some are students, and some are business owners, and everything in between. But there is one thing that unifies us, and that is the love of the game.

   We gather our friends and show up for an hour of sweaty fun twice a week because we love to play. Some of us look forward to the camaraderie. Others are trying to stay in shape. Ultimately though we play because we love to. We LOVE the game. Winning is fun but playing is what it’s all about!

And that’s what this league is all about, having fun PLAYING.

   Every year that I’ve been the director, I’ve had to address the topic of rough play. Most people seem to understand that being competitive, and playing strong are different than playing rough, hacking, or being cheap. But there some who don’t seem to know where the line is. Maybe those who have trouble finding the line are just trying to be as competitive as they can be… or always have been. Maybe, they’re out of shape, and are just a little sloppy. Maybe another player has been trash talking the whole game, and has pushed it too far, and they finally lost it. Whatever the reason, whatever the motivation, there’s NO ROOM for rough or dirty play in this league.

   Rough and/or dirty play leads to nothing but problems. Tempers get hot. Words get exchanged. Poor choices are made, and ultimately injuries occur. All of these take the fun out of the game for everyone involved.

   This league has been established to provide RECREATION LEVEL competitive soccer for the adult community in the Oneonta, NY area. This is not full-on high level competitive soccer, where winning is everything. No one is getting paid to play. No sponsorship or contract is on the line. This is not the glory days of old, or some high school rival match. These are your neighbors, your friends, and your co-workers. There’s no need to bring that extra hard edge to play. Leave it at home, or don’t play.

   As a community, I feel it is OUR obligation to maintain the character and purpose of the league. This is OUR league. Some of the players have been in this league for over 20 years! Others like myself have been much less (8 for me). We all have a duty and responsibility to say something when things are beyond good competition, especially when it’s your own teammate.

   What’s too much? When I get complaints from several teams about any given player? That’s too much. Someone continues to provoke other players, game after game? That’s too much. If I am constantly seeing an attitude of recklessness in word or action? That’s too much. I’m not addressing solid play, or the occasional foul that was unintentional. Those things happen. It IS a contact sport. But we all can tell when someone meant it or not. The player that reaches his or her hand out to help the downed player up or is more concerned for the well-being of the other player than the game, shows their heart in the matter. And so does the one who trash talks the player on the ground… As soccer players, we should know what yellow/red card behavior looks like. It’s reckless, dangerous and toxic.

   So, this year I’m calling out our community of players to set the standard of play, especially the older players who have been in the league awhile. Show your teammates what healthy rec soccer looks like. Speak up when things are getting dicey and encourage those that may be pushing the line to dial it back. Hold onto YOUR league.

   As an added incentive, there will be field marshals overseeing the games. These are not refs. They’re not there to call fouls, or rule infringements. They are there to set the standard if the standard gets into a questionable place during a game. Yellow cards given will remove the player for the remainder of the game. Two yellows over the course of the season, and you’re out for the season. Red card and you’re out of the league perminently.

One other thing.

   When I played competitively, YEARS AGO, I never really gave much thought to the other team, or players. I was focused on winning. I was taught to ‘Go hard to the ball’ or I’d be the one getting injured. The testosterone was high. The drive to win was real. Not that I was necessarily trying to hurt another player, but I wasn’t thinking about if I did.

  Well, last fall I got a chance to see the other side of that equation. For those who didn’t know, on August 18, 2021 our team was in the semi-finals (in this league). We were up 9-2, with about 10 minutes to go in the game. I stole a ball about midfield, passed it wide and crashed the box looking for a cross. I was all alone on the 18 with a beautiful cross I was teeing up for a side volley. I figured the goalie, who was on his line, wasn’t going to get to me, and I’d just try and make good contact with the ball, not intending a hard shot, but clean contact. Just as my foot was on the ball the goalie kicked at the ball (to clear it I assume). I spun around and fell to the ground, so I’m told. (I don’t remember how I got there.) It felt like I got kicked in the leg, right on my shin guards. I stayed on the ground for a solid 5 minutes trying to deal with the pain and catch my breath. My teammates carried me off the field.

   I assume that the keeper was trying to clear the ball. I don’t know if he made contact with the ball at the same time I did, or he made contact with my leg, missing the ball. Either way he struck my foot/leg so hard, that he broke my tibia clean through.

   What I never thought about was the other guy who got injured. Well, I’d like to share with you what that can look like.

I spent:

3hrs in the emergency room

 1 night in a splint.

6 weeks in a long leg cast, from my upper thigh to my toes

6 weeks in a short cast, below my knee to my toes

3 weeks in a walking cast (over my knee to my toes)

1 week out of my cast

(December 8 I slipped while walking in the snow, and rebroke my tibia in the same spot)

4 more hours in the emergency room

2 weeks in a long cast

6 weeks in a walking boot

2 weeks with the walking boot on during the day

And I’ve now been in physical therapy for 5 weeks

The first day I walked without a limp was St. Patrick’s Day 2022

I lost 30% of my income for 2021 because I’m self-employed.  30 %!!!

The things you don’t realize is that I needed help for the first 4 weeks to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. Going to the bathroom, I needed help. Sitting up or laying down. Getting dressed. Washing up. I was either sitting up or laying down for the first 4 weeks. I had a whole process for moving myself from one position to another using a sling and pillows, and everything had to be just right. Ever drink too much water before bed and have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? Well that involved me waking up my wife (who was upstairs) to come and help me to sit up, and make sure I didn’t lose my balance while I crutched my way to the bathroom, and then had to wait and help me to get settled again… a 30-minute process to go pee! My leg was so sensitive, that taking my socks off was cringeworthy. The slightest movement of my toes caused excessive pain to shoot through my leg. I couldn’t climb stairs or travel. I couldn’t sit in a regular chair. I couldn’t work. Thankfully my clients were both understanding, and patient.

It took everything I thought I had to get through the first 12 weeks. When I slipped in December, just 1 week out of my boot, and they told me it would be another 12 weeks of recovery. It was one of the lowest points in my life. Emotionally, physically and financially I was at the breaking point. As it turns out, it wasn’t 12 weeks. It was only a hairline crack, and I was up and moving enough to work again in 4 weeks.

Friends and family came together and helped us get through. And I’m almost at the point where I can run again. I’m not sure that I’ll be playing again this year or not. I don’t know if I’ll be physically ready.

But I’ve said all of this to get to this point:

Consider how hard you play.  This is a rec league. It’s intended to be fun, to make friends with other players and continue to enjoy playing the game we all love. In the end, remember, we all have to work tomorrow.

Here’s to a great season!


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