Reliving old glories (with pain)
Times Staff Writer
Last week, I was at home drawing pictures of mountain tops. With a little extra time between seasons, it’s been more common that my wondering mind gravitates towards various creative pursuits — some good, some bad. While there was once a time I could control myself in these situations, nowadays I’m more willing to throw caution to the wind and just roll with whatever (potentially) bad idea I’ve come up with.
So, I decided to partake in the Mountaineer Indoor Soccer Classic. While there’s a saying in boxing about a boxer “coming off the couch,” that statement was literally applied to me — I hadn’t touched a soccer ball in years, nor played a game since I was 14. But I wasn’t totally in the dark.
When I was 10 years old I dreamed of starring on the U.S. Soccer Team. I traveled throughout the southeast of the country to various soccer tournaments, donning the infamous bowl haircut while collecting the coveted patches for my soccer bag. It was rare that a game would go by in which I didn’t score and raise my arms in a “V” — and if it did, I’d make sure to score twice the next game.
While my soccer days have long since passed, and I no longer sport that embarrassing haircut, I wanted to return to the pre-game anxiety-filled pool that athletes I cover in the Gunnison Valley endure nearly every weekend — so I could better understand the subjects of my many stories.
As is my typical trademark, I like to dive into the deep end of the pool, whether or not I can swim.
I suited up for the tournament at the Mountaineer Field House this past Sunday, hoping to relive old glories — and of course score goals like the young bowl-haircutted Bobby. I teamed up with Western State Colorado University soccer player Kim Bourelle and Mountaineer basketball players Collin Smith and Tom Folsom. While Bourelle stood five-foot, two-inches, the trio of Smith, Folsom and me gave our team a size advantage — all three of us were over six-foot, three-inches. Had the game been decided by height, there would’ve been no contest of which team would claim the title.
Unfortunately, the game — all four that we played — would be decided by goals. While other teams had substitutes, multiple soccer players, and were all nearly a decade younger than me, our team — called “Athlete of the Week” — only had four players. This meant we’d be playing every minute of every game.
Despite our disadvantage, it didn’t take long for our ragtag team of one true Mountaineer soccer player, two tall ginger giants and me, to become the little-tugboat-that-could; we were proof that effort could equal talent — at least for a little while.
Perhaps adding to the smoke and mirrors we put out as a team was the fact that Smith and Folsom warmed up for each game by dunking the soccer ball in the basket above the goal — and they covered their opponents as tightly as basketball players do.
Two minutes into our first game I found myself already looking at the clock… This would be a long, long day. We went down a goal a few minutes later, but there was still a lot of time to play.
Bourelle — better known as SlimmKimmie, her rapper name — scored with four minutes remaining to tie the game 1-1. She carried our team, dribbling the entire court with her long blonde hair flowing behind her. Meanwhile, the three giants on her team just made sure we were out of her way.
With two minutes remaining in the game I found the back of the net to give us a 2-1 victory, and a sliver of excitement went through my body as the Bobby of Old was back. Unfortunately, this would be the highlight of my day.
As the day wore on, I faded like a dying star; I felt like a member of a failing band that had long since passed their prime but still attempted to play on — like the Goo Goo Dolls or Smash Mouth.
The second game went much like the first, with our team once again coming from behind to win — this time 6-5. The third game, however, was the first true challenge. The opposing team consisted of Mountaineer soccer player Sophie Fear, who’s last name became a verb on the field, as it was quite accurate when you’re battling her for the ball. To challenge her was to unleash a lion.
While I’ll chalk up the third game to the beginning of my physical downfall, we dropped the match-up by one questionable goal, and if the third game was tough, the fourth game was about as disastrous as it gets.
The Barce-Loners fielded an entire team of Western’s athletic all-stars. There was Mountaineer quarterback Brett Arrivey, who was clearly better with the ball in his hands than his feet, Western basketballer Will Duggan and Mountaineer soccer players Izzy Engeman, Courtnee Urrea and Katelyn Mardeusz.
Beforehand, I had already pegged us as the underdogs. This was even more of a David versus Goliath match-up, and unfortunately, there would be no happy, Disney-themed ending where the Big Green comes back to win.
Adding to the struggle, my extreme lack of fitness jumped on me like a bear on my back, and it was as if there were only three players on my team rather than the four.
Engeman, Urrea and Mardeusz toyed with our trio of giants while Bourelle was the only player up for the challenge. Eddie Vedder lyrics rang through my head as I realized I was definitely reliving old glories — with pain, this time around.
Bourelle once again carried our team, as the three giants quickly faded into oblivion. Despite her efforts, Athlete of the Week was destroyed, and I even thought about swapping out the “e” on my shirt in “Week” for an “a” as I couldn’t run up and down the court anymore.
But while my legs were giving out and I could no longer tread water in the deep end of this pool, I had survived long enough to tell the tale — and endure a considerable amount of soreness that plagued me in the days following. I am currently out of ibuprofen.
The experience sent me back to drawing and painting — something a little easier on the body to kill the small sliver of free time I have before spring sports kick up...
(Bobby Reyes can be reached at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)