Dear Diary

July 2, 2014

We know what you’re going to do this summer (because you just told us).


I lie still in the wet grass, panting, sweat rolling down my brow in beads. I’m on a roll—more than twice as many as last week, I tell myself, referring to the set of push-ups I just did.

It’s not quite seven o’clock in the morning, and the air around me is thick and humid and rapidly approaching 80 degrees. One of my dad’s friends, a soccer referee and cyclist, is watching me from the bench where we do triceps dips. Three times a week, he arrives at our doorstep at 6 AM sharp to put me through whatever intense workout he’s chosen for the day. It’s always killer.

Later that day, my mother says, “Sometimes I hear you laughing outside and wonder what he could possibly be putting you through.” I tell her everything we did that morning and she shakes her head. “At least you’ll be ready for club season in the fall,” she says.

For years, playing soccer for a statewide team/club seemed like an unattainable dream. Those teams were for the really talented girls who entered the program long before their teenage years. But now here I am, despite that fact that my years of “training” took place in totally recreational, noncompetitive contexts—the most official “coach” I ever had was my dad. I had little hope when I tried out for the team, but I tried out anyway, and I made it. And for the first time, I feel like I deserve it.

Whenever I start doubting myself, I think about Ella Massar. My family used to go to see her play for the University of Illinois back when I was still too young to focus on the game for more than a few minutes at a time. I was lucky enough to meet Ella last year at a soccer clinic she held in my town, where I learned that she didn’t start playing club soccer until she was 15, the same age I am now. Not long after that, she joined the Illinois team, and now she’s playing professionally for the Houston Dash. The night before a tough practice, I often write Ella’s number, 30, on the back of my hand.

When I walk into the kitchen after my next workout, my mom says, “I think you live and breathe soccer more than any of your teammates do.”

I say, “I try.” ♦


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  • gvantsa-goes-by-wendy July 2nd, 2014 7:24 PM

    damn, Lilly, it’s so cool that you have soccer, I mean that you have something you love so much and are good at and try your best to reach more succes, at only 15. I’m a bit jealous – in a friendly way – coz there are so many things I could’ve pursued and been quite good at but didn’t, so much stuff I missed out on. But your entry made me smile, and I’m glad for you, good luck!

  • gvantsa-goes-by-wendy July 2nd, 2014 7:27 PM

    oh, and I forgot, the fact that it’s soccer AND that you’re a 15 year-old female, there’s something quite badass about it. I know it shouldn’t be considered badass and it’s because of our patriarchal society, but that’s the way it is and what you do IS inspiring for many girls, I think. Even for me, who is 3 years older than you. :) x

  • weetzie July 2nd, 2014 8:27 PM

    ANANDA the Once More With Feeling soundtrack was like the only thing I listened to for 4 months last spring when I was depressed, hearing it referenced here is so special because I probably know all the words and would watch the episode once or twice a week all throughout the end of the school year when I was in such a bad place.

  • Mimi7 July 2nd, 2014 10:35 PM

    I don’t think that getting your ears pieced has to be because you’re trying to be fashionable or pretty to other people. It can be just because it seems fun to attach jewels or cute objects to yourself. Earrings are like glitter or body stickers.

  • Kilani July 3rd, 2014 9:26 AM

    Ananda I love that you are listening to the Once More With Feeling soundtrack. That is my favorite episode of Buffy.

  • Paola July 3rd, 2014 4:56 PM

    uh oh Ananda you just got a recently-initiated Buffy watcher really excited for this “Once More With Feeling” ep. Also, Lily, I’m on my school’s soccer team and I’ve been trying so hard to try to get up and start preparing for the season; last season was kind of a bummer. I can’t seem to find the motivation until now; I guess it’s not a good thing that I can’t find motivation within myself but when I hear about what other people are doing… let’s just say thanks to you I’m going to work really hard tomorrow morning.