As the semester concludes I’ve been thinking of the journey this blog has taken me on over the past few months. I’ve shared feelings of excitement, ambition, frustration, and accomplishment, over this complex electronic diary.( I call it a diary, because I’ve basically been posting about things that resonate to my life, and relaying it to all of you in terms of soccer. ) Before I even get started I can’t help but to notice that the most atonshing thing about this journey, is exactly what I just described. Those feelings- excitement, ambition, frustration, and accomplishment. Nothing has ever encapsulated all of those feelings for me in one period of time, except for soccer. And, yet here I am expressing each and every one of them, over homework. But not just homework, a blog.

Blog.. 4 months ago this word meant nothing to me. I thought it was just an irrelevant hobby, that people took up out of boredom or curiosity, which I had neither feeling of at the time this semester began. So as I write this final “official assignment post” I find myself pondering, what exactly has all of this meant to me?

Well, there’s a lot to say, but I think I can explain it best by relating it to one single class visit.

A few weeks ago, in class, we had a guest speaker named Mr. Hines come and talk to us about his experiences blogging. Mr. Hines has been able to launch a career using the connections and skills he’s developed while blogging. During his presentation he said, something that really hit home, and honestly was probably one of the best inspirational phrases I’ve ever heard. Mr. Hines basically told us to blog with a purpose, and blog about something you love. Something you are essentially obsessed with. Something that you talk about all the time even when no one’s listening. Something that your closest friends and family would define as your obsession. Then he said, “share something about your obsession that would help people to better understand it.”

I lit up when I heard those words because that is the exact reason I decided to start this blog in the first place. I wanted the world to understand why soccer is said to be the best sport in the world. I want people in the United States to appreciate this game, and even more so I want the world to know why I fell in love with this game, how much passion I have for it, and understand that unlike other sports, you don’t just play soccer. You live it. You breathe it. You die for it.

Soccer is a lifestyle. It has it’s own culture. And that culture is exactly the same no matter who you are or where you’re from. Although a bit unorthodox, soccer is just like blogging. They share all the same purposeful qualities, they both range anywhere from a hobby to a profession, span across the world, through nearly every culture, and are incredibly influential on a social and political standpoint.

Soccer, like blogging, has the ability to bring people together and inflict heavy conflict. Blogs enable people with similar interests to connect and resonate to each other. People may have mutual blogs they read and follow, or simply share the same hyperlink in a post. Yet, at the same time, they also may cause people to engage in confrontations over different opinions. Soccer is just the same. People from different places, may engage in conflicts because they are most likely fans of different teams. For the most part, this is considered a friendly rivalry, but in some instances violence can break out. However, people who share a mutual respect for the game are also able to connect  and come together through the sport.

A marvelous example, of this is an article published last spring by Time Magazine. The article was on the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World, and one of them was Didier Drogba. Drogba is a professional soccer player for the EPL club team Chelsea, and he made this prestigious list, because he led his county to the 2010 FIFA World Cup last summer. This might seem insignificant at first glance, because tens of other countries qualify for the world cup. However, in this particular instance, qualifying for the World Cup stopped an ongoing civil war in Drogba’s native country, Ivory Coast.

That is how powerful the game of soccer is to the world. It influenced a nation to discontinue years of civil war, so every member of the country could come together, united behind Drogba, and cheer their nation on in the biggest event in sports next to the Olympics.

One of the things we discussed in class all semester was the controversy behind emerging technology like blogs, and the impacts that occur on soceity. Some people feel the use of the technological advancements is going to negatively impact society. But, like Clay Shirky, and Donna Haraway, authors we’ve analyzed in class, I think this technology can be useful, and the only fear we should have, is the extenet people are willing to use this technology for good, or for evil. People like to blame technology for bad things happening, but that’s not fair to judge. To be perfectly honest it would be like blaming a sport for a crazed fan acting obscenely violent. No one would say hey, soccer is bad, because it caused a fan to act in an out of control manner and bring danger to soceity. Of course not, that is just ridiculous, but that is what some people claim with techonolgy.

If there’s anything I learned from this exeperience it’s that people have the choice to use tools for good. Take Drogba for example, he used soccer as a method to end a war and bring peace to his nation. Soccer, was his tool, and through mass media his message was heard around the world.

Well, my goal of this blog is to get each of you to appreciate the game of soccer, and understand why I love the sport so much, and even though the journey isn’t complete  I’m grateful that I can say I’ve had incredible experiences with both. I’ve learned that soccer, like blogs, has the capabilitys to bring people together that very few sports, and other forms of media and communication can.

Before I leave for the day I just want to leave you with this video. This is what soccer, and technology such as blogs give us today. Passion. Excitement. And Unity.

Ya Big Dummy

Posted: May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

My apologies for the title.I’m in no way inferring that any of you all are a dummy, but it seems fitting to give a comical, stress-relieving post for this week’s Word Wednesday, since I’ve been studying for finals for the past 24 hours of my life. So without further ado: the Dummy.

Webster’s Dictionary would define the word dummy as 1. a person who is incapable of speaking, 2. a person who is habitually silent, or 3. a stupid person.

However, in the world of soccer, the term dummy has a much more respectable meaning. A dummy is actually a simple, brilliant skill that has developed in the game, and become a prominent strategic move. It can be used to spin a defender, or keep a pass/cross on-going to create time and space for a teammate.

Definition– a feint, deception, in which you let the ball roll between your legs instead of receiving it at your feet.

Uses- deceive a defender

Execution Process-

1. As the ball approaches, open your legs and let the ball roll between them.

2. Once the ball is through your legs, turn and run onto it.

**Adding a head or body gesture -to simulate a fake run or move as the ball rolls between your legs- increases the effectiveness of this skill.**

Difficulty- 1 out of 10

Here’s a video demonstrating a very basic execution of the dummy.

About a week ago a classmate of mine suggested I make my blog more appealing to people who aren’t as sport-oriented as myself. So, I started to think… “what are some aspects of soccer that a common person, who isn’t crazy about athletics would find really interesting.” After, a couple of moments, a few mediocre ideas, I settled on….music. Music is a great common ground for people everywhere; no matter what the background of the person, what their preference of musical genre, or what their major interests are in life. Everyone likes music, and everyone can relate to music.

phillysoccerpage.net

Keeping that in mind, I figured I’d introduce you all to Clint Dempsey.

Clint Dempsey is my favorite American footballer. I could probably list a hundred reasons why I love him, but here are my top three:

1. He’s hott.

2. He has great goal scoring celebrations, which tend to be the last dance moves.

And, 3. I love his style of play. He’s such a great, hard working, skillful player, and it’s made him a vital part of the US Men’s National Team.

Dempsey played Division 1 soccer at Furman University before leaving one year early to play in the MLS. He played on the New England Revolution for three seasons before heading overseas to play in the English Premier League (EPL). He currently plays on the club Fulham in the EPL, which is the best soccer league in England, and one of the top leagues in the world.

Dempsey was the only American to score a goal in 2006 FIFA World Cup, and I’m sure most people remember his tying goal against England in last summer’s 2010 FIFA World Cup.

However, what most people don’t know about Clint Dempsey is that beyond soccer, he has a passion for hip hop music. When involved with music he uses the alias “Deuce,” and associates with of the Screwed Up Click, along with fellow Texas rappers XO and the late Houston rapper Big Hawk.  In 2006, Dempsey and the Screwed Up Click released a hit song and music video “Don’t Tread” for a Nike football advertising campaign for the 2006 World Cup . After all, what a better way to showcase both the sport of soccer, and the United States team qualifying for the World Cup. 

The song’s video is dedicated to Dempsey’s sister Jennifer, who, at age sixteen, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. At the conclusion of the video Dempsey places a flower on her grave in honor of her memory.

So we’ve heard of musicians becoming movie stars, and athletes making guest appearances in music videos, but what are your thoughts on athletes becoming musicians?

Rainbows

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

I woke up this morning to rain droplets covering my window. Unsure of whether it was currently raining, or if the droplets were just the last remaining sign of a night storm I slept through, I pulled the curtain back, squinted my eyes, and searched for rain droplets. I spotted droplets splashing into a puddle on the walkway outside my window. Then I decided to check my phone to see what the weather was suppose to be like today, and it confirmed another day of spring showers. My first thought was “aw man, it’s going to be a miserable day out”, but then I remembered the saying, “you can’t appreciate the sunny days without having the experience rainy ones.” So I started to think, “hmm….what’s something good about rainy days?” Then it hit me- rainbows! One of the prettiest phenomenons nature has to offer us; the sun coming out after a rain shower, and capturing the beautiful light rays of ROYGBIV.

Flickr: Rainbow Series 1

Then I got this idea, since it’s Word Wednesday, how perfect would it be to introduce you guys to the rainbow. That way even if the sun doesn’t come out later this afternoon, I can shed some beauty on your day: at least for a short moment. So without further ado, the rainbow!

Definition- a skill, in which you kick the ball over your head, so the ball takes a path shaped like a rainbow.

(New this week) Execution Process-

1. Start with the ball positioned between your legs, with one foot facing forward, and one foot angle outward

2. Lean forward so that the ball feels as if it is behind you

3. Using the heel/instep of the foot that is facing outward, roll the ball up the back of your opposite leg

4. Continuing your momentum forward as if to do a hop, kick the ball up with the heel of the planted foot

5. Follow through and land on the opposite leg (the original leg that start the motion)

** The ball should propel over your head and land in front of you**

Check out these instructions and video to aid your execution process:

Uses- beat a defender, ridicule an opponent

Difficulty- 8 out of 10

Typically ameatur players do this move from a still position as more of a skill trick. However, this move can be done in the run of play.

This is a video of a rainbow executed in live action!

Alumni Weekend

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

This past weekend was our annual Alumni Weekend for the Maryland Women’s Soccer Program. It’s always the best part of the spring because the training sessions die down as finals approach, and we conclude with a friendly scrimmage against the alumni of the program. Typically, we usually kill our alumni, because most of them are tired old women, whom have long since hung their boots up, and started families of their own. However, this year they were out to get us.

Many of the alum were still in their early twenties. Most of them were former teammates from my freshman and sophomore year, and some of them were on the team this past fall season. Of course none of them were in really great shape, but their age wasn’t the kicker. The kicker was that they paid off the referees! Not literally of course, although I’m not even to sure about that, but definitely figuratively speaking.

In 70 minutes of soccer (we obviously shortened the halfs so the old women didn’t pass out in the 70 degree sun blazing down at 3pm on Saturday afternoon) the officials didn’t give us one throw in, or corner kick. Every time the ball went out of bounds it was the alums’ possession. Everytime we played a through ball, or found ourselves on the brink of a breakaway, we were called offsides. And everytime we layed a finger or shoelace on an alum, it was a foul.

Even after all of the officials’ ridiculous calls we managed to hold onto a puny 2-0 lead as we headed into the final 15 minutes of play. For most of the game our frustration was dismissed by laughter. That was until an alum shanked a shot wide and fell on the ground in the 18 yard box, and the official called a penalty kick (pk). The call was so ridiculous our keeper Yewande could do nothing but laugh. A perfect pk lead to the alums’ first tally on the scoreboard. Now the board read 2-1. A few stray chances on our part, and more bizzare calls occurred as the clock wound down toward zero. Then, in the last 5 minutes of the game, our possession began to greatly deplete. I knew it was odd for the alum to suddenly gain control of the game so I looked around in bewilderment. I noticed we looked out numbered everywhere on the field. Then I checked the opposing bench. That’s when it all hit me. The alum literally cleared the bench! When I say cleared the bench I don’t mean the slang terminology for inserting all their substitutes in replace of their starters for the finally minutes. I mean they cliterally cleared their bench, and all 19 alum were playing against the 11 of us. Confused and stunned, we tried to just keep the ball for the final minute of the game, but a turnover at midfield lead to a huge counter attack! In the final 15 seconds the alum ran down and scored, tieing the game with only 6 seconds left on the clock. At the sound of the final buzzer our jaws dropped, and all we could do was shake our heads and grin. The alumni, thanks in large part to the referees, had literally cheated their way to a tie. Unbelievable!

After the shock of the tie blew over, we all shared a barbecue dinner and drinks (nonalcoholic for those still on the team) at R.J Bentleys. We shared stories, caught up on old times, and remembered the best moments the alumni had in their Terp days. Despite the unruly tie, it was a fun-filled, and very interesting afternoon that ended with great laughs.

When night time fell, it was time to welcome the freshman into their lifetime legacy of a Terp-hood. Needless to say alumni night is always a great entertaining time.

This weekend was a great end to my final spring season as a Terp, and my only hope is that we get the same officials when I’m on the other side of the alumni game next spring!

Snake

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

For all those with ophidiophobia, or a fear of snakes, don’t worry, this post has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the creepy, scaly reptile! However, it does have everything to do with a pretty sweet ball skill that enables you to imbalance your defender and create space for a shot or cross. To execute a snake you need to take a quick touch with the inside of your foot, followed by a more explosive touch with the outside of foot, all in one complete fluid motion. If it’s done properly the ball will take the motion of a slithering snake: hence the name! Overwhelmed yet? You should be. This is one of the most challenging attacking moves to master, but it can be extremely effective.

This video is a great portrayal of the snake in action!

Here’s a recap on facts about this move:

Definition- an attacking move in which you take a quick touch on the ball with the inside of your foot, followed by a more explosive touch with the outside of foot, all in one complete fluid motion.

*This move can also be done in reverse. In this case you would start with a quick touch on the outside of your foot, and follow with a more explosive touch with the inside of your foot.*

Uses- imbalance a defender, create space for a shot or cross

Synonyms- in and out

Difficulty: 10 out of 10

Happy Practicing!

So this past weekend was Easter weekend, and initially I thought it was going to be great, but to my misfortune, it was actually more like a roller coaster of disastrous events. It all started with Friday’s weather. Despite the fact all week it was sunny and at least 60 degrees, Friday turned out to be rainy, windy, and a maximum of 50 degrees. How convenient, we get the worse weather on the day of our final competitive spring game (first drop on the coaster).

Aside from the terrible weather, things actually turned out to be pretty decent on Friday. We beat Penn State University 2-0 that night, and I must admit even though it was windy and chilly, it’s tons of fun to play in the rain(1st peak on the coaster). The pace of the game accelerates, and a wet ground makes it really fun to slide tackle. Except when you wind up on the receiving end of a slide tackle. I fell victim to a few slide tackles throughout the game, but none more painful than the two footed tackle this girl initiated in the middle of the field. I was tracking back on defense when a ball popped out of our 18 yard box. I was in a foot race with a girl on Penn State to get to the ball first and prevent her from serving it back into our box. Then, just as I extended my leg out to win the ball, she hit the ground and slid at me with two feet, studs up. It happened so fast, but in my head it was in slow motion. I thought, at that moment, I was going to break an ankle or some part of my leg, but luckily she only clipped the top of my foot. I still have the giant lump and bruise to show for that tackle, but it beats the heck out of a broken bone (2nd drop on the coaster).

I retalliated shortly after though, and my revenge was much sweeter than the little bruise on my foot. My teammate Amy O’Sullivan picked up a ball around midfield. She ran at the PSU defensive line, beat one girl, and slipped a perfectly weighted pass behind their back line. I ran onto the ball, took a little touch to my right, and shot the ball back across the left side of my body. The presence of a PSU defender on my left shoulder caused all my momentum to fall forward, and I slid on the ground after my shot. As I picked my head up to follow the path of the ball I noticed it dropping right in the back of the net for a goal. Scoring a goal, on your home field, for your fans and team to cheer for, against a big time opponent such as PSU, is one of the greatest feelings anyone could ever experience. And to add to my bliss, I jogged back to my half of the field, right passed the girl who studded me, and smiled. Ahhh! Sometimes it feels great to let the b*tch out and shut someone up (peak two on the coaster).

Friday ended on a good note, with a victory celebration with my team. Then Saturday started off decent enough. I woke up, packed my car to head home for Easter weekend, and ate a great breakfast with my parents. We left College Park around 1:30pm, for what was suppose to be a leisure drive home with an ETA of about 5:30pm. Of course that was not the case, with a holiday as big as Easter, and traveling on everyone’s agenda. The trip took almost 6 miserable hours! There were patches of heavy traffic in almost every state. Delaware, worst of all, decided to do major construction on their bridge that links the Northeast region of the coast to the South. It took nearly two hours to get from the Maryland border of the bridge to exit 1 on the New Jersey Turnpike. It didn’t help much either that my GPS is very simplistic, and I was trying to follow my parents, whose GPS was giving them alternate routes to avoid every bit of traffic the whole way home. I wound up doing two extremely long and detoured loop arounds to finally head in the right direction home, and eventually got completely seperated from my parents on the road (huge drop on the coaster).

When I finally arrived home, I had a nice dinner with my brothers, played with my dogs, and then went out to visit an old friend of mine. It was a relaxing night after a long days travel, and when I came home from my friends house, I passed out, for a well needed night’s rest (3rd peak on the coaster).

So now, as I’ve said my weekend was a bit of a roller coaster of up and down moments, right? Well right about now is when we slowly start to climb up for the monster drop. You know exactly what I’m talking about. The slow creep up for the biggest drop ever on the track. There’s usually a sign at the top that says something annoying and witty like, “Smile for the camera”, and makes you second guess why you even got on the ride in the first place.

Well, here’s my ultimate drop. When I woke up Sunday morning, I had a pounding headache and my throat was extremely sore. My body was aching all over, and I didn’t want to move from my bed. I called out to my mom, and told her I didn’t feel well, so she brought me a ton of medicine. I eventually fell back asleep for a few hours, and some of my pain subsided, but I still felt sick. Then, the next wave of medicine came, TheraFlu. YUCK! I drank it down, burning my tongue and throat with every gulp, and eventually fell asleep again. By the time I woke up it was a quarter to 6pm, and I had to start packing my car to return to school. I slept through all of Easter! It was so depressing. I missed my dad’s big breakfast, and my mom’s dinner (the best parts of Easter). I was miserable, too tired to drive, and upset I missed all the Easter festivities and my parents cooking. To top off this miserable Easter Sunday, I hit a ton of traffic on the drive back and it was pouring rain, so it took another 6 hours to get back! When I finally got back to school I was too tired and pissed to unpack my car so I walked directly to my dorm, and went right to bed.

After having the longest weekend ever I fell right asleep. I expected to wake up Monday morning feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work, but I felt even more miserable then the day before. Shortly after I was diagnosed with the dreaded tonsillitis. What a perfect ending to the longest 96 hours of my life!