I'm writing this down for posterity because I have a terrible memory when it comes to sports.
A couple weeks ago a bunch of us alumni lacrosse guys got together in Orange County and played in a little lacrosse tournament. It was 7 on 7, and we were supposed to play 4 games, 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. I guess not enough teams signed up, because we only ended up scheduled for 2 on Saturday. The games were only 20 minutes long, running clock, on a much shorter field. It was nice and hot out. My brother Ben played (Josh was in a surf contest), friend Sean and his brother Kevin played (Buck was there as "coach"), and Tanner, Beef, Bonilla, Tim, Whitey, Joe Lee, and Acker. The first team we played was high schoolers, so we were nearly twice their age. That doesn't necessarily put us at an advantage; there are a lot of really good high school teams in the OC (don't call it that). But we beat these guys 4 zip, I think. I scored one goal, but it was a pretty crappy little goal. No hard zinger, just a light little close up toss. Felt good to score, but I don't know if I've ever had a good rip.
The second game was against an alumni team, but these were high school alumni, so we were still 10 years older than all these guys. We apparently tied 2-2 (but I still think it was 3-2). No goals for me that game. After that game, some of the guys from that team invited us to play with them a little later, so Tanner, Ben and I stuck around. We played one of the really good high school teams that time, and got beat 4-7. Ben scored a great goal that game. I scored none, and got beat three times on defense, so technically we lost because of me. But it was still fun. Alumni game coming up at Biola in a few weeks!
I'm playing intramural flag football at Biola right now, on a team called "Might Men of Valor." It's an old team, made up of old guys (and a few young ones), and they're all great dudes. I knew a few of them from before, but most are new to me, and it's a pleasure to play with them. Solid athletes and competitors, but really generous and helpful with a complete football idiot like me.
We just had our fifth game of the season, and were 2-2 before tonight's game. We're a good team, but we played two really tough teams in our last two, so we were really hoping for a win tonight. I'm playing defensive end, mostly, which means my job is simple: rush in and try and sack the quarterback. That's a position I'm mentally capable of handling, even though there is strategy and technique to it. I've had a couple sacks so far this year, but I'm just a middle of the road player. I always go into games hoping I don't pull a major screw-up (and I've had a few -- fortunately, none that cost us the game, but I've done some bonehead stuff out of ignorance of certain calls and plays). I'm a bit of a pessimist when it comes to my own athletic performance.
So tonight I was in at defensive end again, and in the first half, on the third down, I got inside and sacked the QB! Then the very next play, the other defensive end, Levi, sacked the QB. That felt awesome. My aspirations at that point were for no screw-ups and maybe another sack.
We were up 12-8 in the second half, and the other team had had a good march down the field. They didn't have very far to go for a touchdown. The play started, I was rushing on the left side, my offensive lineman was doing fine at keeping me out. Then a low pass went out to the left of me, and Mac, a linebacker and one of our defensive strategists, blocked the ball! It popped up right in front of me, and I decided to grab it. I'm so glad I didn't just stop there, because for a split second I wasn't sure if the ball was dead or not. I'm just not a fast thinker in the middle of a play. I was just catching the ball because it was there. Fortunately, as it dropped into my hands, I had the tiniest voice in my head (followed by loud voices of my teammates) that said "Go you idiot!" (My teammates did not include the 'idiot' part.) So I started running! At first to the left side, but I was already close to the sidelines and there was an opponent that way, so I dodged and shifted right. There were a few more guys that I got through. Behind me and to the side my guys were throwing blocks and yelling encouragement. I couldn't see what they did, but the only opponent that I ran into was this giant of a man (who apparently was practicing with the 49ers recently! No joke!), and he was the last guy to get through before the end zone. My legs were already feeling like lead, even though I hadn't run very far at all, and the big dude got a hand on my shirt, which jerked me quite a bit. Fortunately, I either pulled free or one of my guys hit him, because I heard a "rip!" and was free and tried to just stay on my feet to the end zone. Teammate Lance was behind me the whole way, shouting "Go go go!" My legs felt like rubber, like they were going to fall out from underneath me, but I made it! Touch down! My teammates then swarmed me and I could barely eek out a smile I was so exhausted. I don't know why that tired me out so much, but I was light-headed for a few minutes after that. I also noticed a big tear in my shirt where the big guy had grabbed me. Boy I'm lucky the shirt gave.
We went on to win the game, but it was close. For the rest of the game I thought, don't choke don't choke don't choke don't be the goat and, fortunately, it didn't happen. So that will probably go down as the greatest play I will ever make in my football career, and it was just luck and the support of my team. And I had to write it down or lose it forever. I'd remember the end result on my own, but not the details, and I like remembering the details.