Student channels passion for soccer into service opportunity

It’s cold. I want to give up, but I can’t. There are only two minutes left in the second half and the game is tied 1-1. A goal is a ‘must have’. The opposing team sends the ball out of bounds. They kick it over the fence. The referee calls for a corner kick. I chase the ball. I must keep running because time is short. With just seconds on the clock, I throw it to the player ready for the corner kick. She kicks, makes a stunning goal. The crowd goes wild!  JBU Lady Eagles soccer team wins!

Okay, so that never happened. But it could. What can I say? The life of a ball girl is exciting. I get a close-up opportunity to see my team win and have a small part in the game. Some games are intense, hanging neck and neck in the last few minutes while others are scoreless in the second half. Some games are just plain boring because it’s a lopsided win. Whatever happens, I enjoy chasing the ball for the team and I sure will miss it when I graduate.

It all started my freshman year when the designated ball boys left for practice. I was asked to help. I said yes, I loved it, and I have been doing it ever since. I’ve seen heartbreak losses that cost the men’s soccer team a championship. I’ve also seen our women’s team win a championship on that same field.

Playing in Arkansas where the seasons seem to change every day, the weather sets the tone for the game. Water, Gatorade, and sunscreen are required when the weather is hot, but by October, warm clothes and rain gear are musts. I wear three layers of clothes, a hat, gloves and a parka and just hope I don’t end up frozen by the end of the game. Rain, sleet, snow or sun, I will always be there, not only helping the team, but cheering them on as well.

Being the team’s ball girl is fun, and I enjoy it, but it does have ups and downs. Losses are tough and weather is hard. Balancing the games with homework and social life can be challenging as well. If there is an upcoming game, I work on homework in advance. Nights are late and multitasking is a must when trying to make it to a game on time. I also carve out time to spend some part of the day with the team. Lunch, dinner and occasional study sessions are some of the ways I spend time with the team. Some of the players have been in my classes, which also helps build relationships.

Helping chase balls during the games makes me feel, in some small way, part of the team. I love being up close and personal to all the action on the field and getting to know and build relationships with the players and their families.