Back in first, second, and maybe third grade, I played soccer on a local soccer team. While out team consisted of a vagabond group of kids (I imagine us as soccer’s version of the Bad News Bears), we had one outstanding player: Brian Olea.
Brian Olea hit puberty sometime around the age of seven. In our team soccer photo, he could easily be mistaken for a coaching assistant. Brian was the only kid in sixth grade with a moustache. During soccer practice, I can remember Brian hanging from the top of the soccer goal, doing pull-ups for fun. He was a giant of a kid. He was also our goalie. Brian was pretty much the equivalent of a 20-year-old athelete — totally unfair to everyone else, but we loved it. I can’t remember anyone ever scoring a goal against Brian. Maybe they were afraid of being eaten by our giant, who knows.
And so, guess what? At home, out in my garage in a worn cardboard box full of old memories sits a first place soccer trophy. It’s small; just a tiny faux-marble slab with a faux-golden soccer ball attached to the top of it. On the front is a generic plaque that reads something like, “Yukon Soccer, First Place, Pee-Wee Division.”
And Susan thinks it’s hers.
Susan is the same age as me, grew up in the same town as me, and played soccer in the same league. And, she swears up and down that the trophy is hers — which is ridiculous. How could she forget our ten-foot-tall goalie? Brian was so huge, when he got bored at practice he would make the coaches run laps! One time during recess, Brian kicked a soccer ball that hit me so hard that it knocked the wind out of me and I thought I was going to die. As I was laying flat on my back and trying to gather enough air to cry, Brian grabbed my belt with one hand, lifted me up and said, “you’re going to be okay.” I can still remember the image of Brian standing above me, blocking the sun, looking like a Greek hero standing before me on the playground.
If Susan says that trophy is hers one more time I’m going to have Brian Olea kick her ass.