Yesterday marked the beginning of the Davidson College men's soccer team's pre-preseason. For those unfamiliar with it, pre-preseason gathers the members of the new Davidson team before official preseason begins. The upperclassmen/team leaders gather the squad together to go stay in a house together for introductions, team bonding, a little bit of fitness and a chance to get to play with each other before the grind of real preseason takes all fun out of life.
For me, this pre-preseason marked the official beginning of a new year of Davidson soccer sans Aaron West. What has become a huge part of my life for four years is now gone with the last season. Although the end of the fall season actually meant I was no longer a Davidson player, the arrival of this year's pre-preseason presents a tangible milestone of my passage as a college soccer player. This summer presented another huge benchmark in my life, being the first time I've never had to actually train for an upcoming season since I was 3 years old. What has been a incredibly enjoyable summer was tempered strongly by the emptiness I've felt through not having a reason to train or work out in eager anticipation for the imminent season. While I've filled the emptiness with some running, kicking the ball around and lifting, I still feel the pang of my loss whenever I talk to current players.
In talking to some of my friends who are still on the team recently, I detected a sad note in my own tone that hadn't cropped up before in conversation. I felt like an honorably discharged soldier eagerly enquiring about all the goings-on of his old regiment, to the annoyance of his younger mates still in the service. I've just recently gotten over the fact that I can't answer the question "do you play soccer?" with the perfunctory response, "yeah, I play for Davidson College", with a little smirk of school pride.
Now that I've moved on, I have other things for which to look forward. Highlights include the Alumni game on August 24th, not having to run during preseason, and never having to worry about studying on a bus on the way back home from a late away game. Now that I'm retired, I can also sit in the stands and watch the games without anxiety, without having to worry about the result on the field.
Who am I kidding? I'll probably stress more now that I can't play.