Pain and loathing spread across their faces. The sweat, mud, and tears mix together hiding their expressions. Their muscles are worn and tired. Their arms too sore to reach up and wipe away the sweat from their brow. Their fingers pulsing to the sound of their running steps. Their bodies ridged with suffering, but maintaining to carry their body weights through the field.
But they never surrender, and they never will give up. They push through their misery with great gusto because they love the game. The game drives them, pushes them, finds their inner beast. Rain, sun, or snow we continue this game.
Normally, I play alongside them. The adrenaline scorches my blood and sends currents of electricity through to my muscles. The chase is the best part of the game. Everything seems to blur into each other, and you fly through the chaos to success. Everything moving a mile a minute. Never slowing, always a steady fast pace, but only your breathing quickens.
I stand here immovable, watching them play. My eyes can’t leave the field. My body yearns to join them, and every muscle is tightening ready to burst into action if need be. But now as the coach, I must let them discover the love of this game. My body is stone cold and stiff. No sweat drips down into my eye line. No tears pour from my eyes in fury and excitement. No mud mixes onto my flesh turning me muddy. I am perfectly clean, and I feel incomplete.
But watching this game from the edge of field, causes it to slow. I can see the stopping and falling. I see their bodies actually move at a normal pace. Every athlete is wincing in pain, but I witness that smile creeping through the layers of mud across their faces. I see the high power leaps into the air towards success. I see the collisions in slow motion, and then the bodies slowly cascade dowards collapsing into the mud. I see the small gestures to their teammates as they have done well, or are losing.
No one really ever losses at this game. You only lose if you give up. You only lose if you quit. You only lose if you don’t try. You only lose if you believe you did not give it your all. If you do everything you physically and mentally could then you have won. That is why I play this game. You must work as a team to score. You must put in the work to succeed. You alone must decide if you want to play the game or not. This game is challenging but still through all the pain, hurt, tears, sweat, mud, and effort you might catch a glimpse of a smile or smirk if your mind slows down their movements.
Even though my body is aching for more than to just stand here on the sidelines, I need to give them the chance to love the game. I also get the chance to slow down my mind and see the dissimilarities between the athletes who want it and who don’t. Also, I have another source of knowledge to help them understand our true sport. This game is our outlet to team bonding and self-finding, but our true passion happens elsewhere.
But without this game, we would not know what it feels like to have sweat, tears, mud, dripping into our eyes. The water masks our expressions and exhaustion. I only truly see it in their faces during this game. When we swim there is no slowing…this only happens in the game.