Melany Perez

A bead of sweat rolls down your forehead, cold against your hot skin.

Your breathing is labored, your heart pounds: you think for a second that it might pound out of your chest. You don’t care enough to rest. Rest is for the weak.

Your muscles burn, pushed to their limit. Beyond their limit, even. You know no limits, not when you’re on the field. You remember your middle school swim coach telling you “pain is your muscles celebrating.” He was right.

As if in slow motion, the bead of sweat rolls down your cheek, like a tear — but of hard work. If hard work could cry, it would cry sweat.

You start to move, legs swallowing land, grass flying beneath your feet. The hot air in your lungs is like soup. Adrenaline, after all, is a drug, and a highly addictive one at that. A voice pierces through the haze, interrupting your concentration — it’s shrill, pubescent.

“Wait, which team are you on?” asks an amateur. A newbie. Someone who just doesn’t get it. A first-year.

With a deep breath — your first in minutes — you turn to the bold, inexperienced, audacious and capricious first year. You puff your chest at them and jab at your pecs — your sweat-soaked shirt declares “DAVENPORT IMS.”

“Hopper” is scrawled across their t-shirt. You laugh — their only muscle is their goalie, who doesn’t even run. “What’s funny?” asks the first year. There’s no time to explain. You roll your eyes and push them over with your pinky finger. They fall easily, and certainly not gracefully.

You keep running and call out to your teammates. The soccer ball soars towards you, taking flight.Time slows down once more.

You begin to think a little harder about where you are. You’re on Field C — it’s Wednesday, 5 p.m. You have a 5-6 page paper due, double spaced, Times New Roman due at midnight that you haven’t started. Instead of  working, you decided to go to IM soccer. Davenport hasn’t been doing so well lately, and your job is to save the day. You were assigned a new p-set today that’s due on Friday at midnight. The last one took you 30 hours. Is soccer really worth it? 

You leap into the air and head the ball. Unfortunately, the ball fares better than you. As it arcs towards your teammate, you land on your face. Hard. 

Knees cracking, you pick yourself up and take off running. No rest for the weary, nor the victorious. Davenport has the advantage, you can’t lose this point.

Why did you come to IMs? Was it because you wanted to play soccer? Was academia too much?  

No. You came for glory. And not glory for yourself, glory for your college. Yale College? No. Davenport Residential College, located at 248 York St. 

You consider what it might be like to be a D1 athlete bearing a great big Y on your chest. You think you understand the thrill, pressure and excitement they must feel. You understand the physical prowess they have. You have it too in this particular moment.

Here comes the ball. It’s time, now or never. You deftly take control of the ball and dribble, heading straight for the goal.

That same first year gets in the way — you shove them. Pinky and ring this time. There’s some crazy hand mechanics happening here. There is also no mercy in intramural soccer.

You’re feet away from the goalline. The goalie is legendary in the league: he never takes his eye off the ball, no matter the circumstances. But he doesn’t stand a chance. You swing your cannon of a leg, and the goalie miraculously blocks it: not with his hands nor his feet, no, with his now-broken nose. He’s shaken, not stirred. Regardless, the Yale EMTs  run to quench the waterfall of blood.

The IMs secretary pats you on the back.”This happens every year,” he says. “He’ll be fine. Prop him up on a chair or something. By the way, have you finished that reading for psych?” 

Resigned, you board the bus that delivers you right to the back door of Sterling. You head straight to Bass, where you lock yourself in a sad study cubicle the next 6 hours.

All the while, you’re still thinking about that goal. About that game. The game of a lifetime. You wish every excruciating detail could have been captured in HD perfection. The day when you, an intrepid, slightly egomaniacal Yale student, came face to face with the one and only Scott Sterling