A lot has changed in a decade

A lot has changed in a decade. Ten years ago, all four sports teams I follow (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins) were at different points of their history, but shared one common bond: no recent championships. We love our sports in New England, but there was a sort of fear that would come up when there was a glimmer of hope and our teams never failed to make that fear become reality. Things changed quickly though.

What changed this culture of fear was Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Two fearless individuals who just wanted to win. With a little luck aiding their journey to that first Super Bowl, these two showed New England that it was OK to dream, that something good will happen in the end.

The domino effect happened fairly quickly. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years. The Red Sox finally broke through 86 years of disappointment with the most thrilling and unbelievable run I’ve ever witnessed in 2004 and then followed this up in 2007 with another championship. The Celtics, after years of management blunders and bad luck, constructed a new Big Three and won a ring in 2007. The Bruins even got into the act, pulling off an improbable run last year and winning the Stanley Cup.

Now the Patriots are back to the big game and look for that fourth Super Bowl ring in ten years. I cannot wait for tonight. As I learned early in my life, you never know when you will be back to the big game (or even get there). Enjoying this while it lasts is something I will do.

The Return

Just under a week ago, I returned to the soccer field for the first time in 11 years, this time on a team sponsored by my employer. We are a team of players who hadn’t played competitively in quite sometime. We knew it would be a challenge to play up to our standards.

I was part of the starting lineup, which made me joke to a teammate (and coworker) that I would last about 30 seconds before calling for a sub. In reality, it was about 2 minutes and I was COMPLETELY gassed. Sitting on the bench, I could barely catch my breath. Completely out of shape for cardio exercise.

One thing I found is despite a 11 year layoff, I still had my sense of position. Playing my natural position of striker, I found I could still anticipate the play developing and get in the right spot, causing all sorts of havoc on the other team’s defense. The problem was my timing: I always seemed about 1 step too slow. Not sure how much of this was my reaction time due to not playing, lack of endurance, or age, but it frustrated me to no end. Speed was a vital part of my game in high school and not being able to sustain that speed other than short, infrequent bursts really got to me.

We won the game 3-2 and I’m very proud of how the team played. With no one in soccer shape, we did an excellent job passing the ball and getting back on defense. Our pressure on the other team resulted in many opportunities. I also got sick at the end of the game…no pain, no gain!

I have no doubt that once I get into better shape I will be able to contribute some goals to the scorecard. It felt good to get on the field again.