Family Matters


Family Matters

The Oldest Guy on the Team: Running for Your Life

January/February 2017


My teammate, Mara, is the picture of youthful vitality, especially tonight, as the other players maneuver through the rain during our coed soccer league game. Now in my late 50’s, I’m the oldest member of the team and surely the only grandparent on the field. Mara, still in her mid-20’s I’d guess, is probably the youngest. Swift, fierce, and determined, she tirelessly whips from one end of the field to other, zipping off sharp passes along the way with an uncanny ability to get her foot on the ball, wherever it may be.

I played goalie on my high school team. In fact, my junior year I set a county record with six consecutive shutouts. But while I was good, with quick reflexes and a sure grip, I was never great—and I was never going to be great, because I was never fearless. The thought of taking a cleat in the jaw or a knee in the groin kept me from sprinting out of the box and bravely disrupting developing plays. On more than one occasion, I was a sitting duck, left to watch the ball, untouched by my human hands, whir past me into the back of the net.

I consoled myself by noting that there were advantages to staying put and patiently reading the onrushing action. And often there were: one of my defenders would sweep by to stymie the attacker, or a shot would wind up arriving right where I’d strategically positioned myself. In these moments, with the ball cradled securely to my thumping chest, I’d silently pat myself on the back for my restraint. But…

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