That afternoon, the air was crisp and ripe with the smell of autumn. A cold wind pushed against me as I sprinted down the field, my legs searing from exhaustion. I glanced at the glowing clock that towered right above the goal. Three minutes. I squinted into the sunlight, panting lightly as my eyes fixed on the ticking numbers. We had just scored our third goal, putting us in the lead. An overwhelming sinking feeling spread through my body, a kind of nervousness that comes when change is near.
All at once, the reality of my situation hit me hard. In one hundred and eighty seconds my first varsity field hockey season would be over, and I found myself unprepared. Something told me this game was meant for us, a sort of premonition that convinced me of our abilities, and I wasn’t ready to give that up in the last pending moments.
I watched the ball ping-pong between my two teammates on the opposite side of the field, as it gradually moved its way towards me. I held my breath, watching them intently. I had never seen so much determination. Each one of them was simultaneously dribbling, sprinting, and anticipating the other, without a hint of doubt or hesitation, as if they’d been waiting for this exact play to unfold. In fact, as I looked at all of my teammates, I saw a tenacity that must have stunned the other team. They lunged and dove as if they had no tiredness and no injuries. Three minutes was the only thought driving them.
It was then that I realized the sinking feeling still echoing in the pit of my stomach was something they had felt too. I knew what they were all thinking. How did I want to remember this game? At that moment, I had never felt more part of a team. The anticipation of our last remaining moments followed us as we played alongside each other. As I ran I heard their footsteps coincide with mine. I heard my voice in theirs when they called across the field. Their strength challenged me to run to the ball just out of my reach and to push down the exhaustion I knew was there. Our purpose had never been so clear.
In the final ten seconds, as it became apparent that we had won our last game, our team continued to sprint because we wanted to. I didn’t let myself watch the dwindling numbers on the board, in hopes that time would continue endlessly with us playing like we just had. Sweat glistened on my exposed shoulders, and I secretly wished I could relive those three minutes. As the whistle blew, and cleats stopped short on the turf, I knew that every girl had seen this moment coming, and I smiled to myself. We leaned on each other as we walked off the last field we would play on for months. Together, we exhaled those lingering feelings of uncertainty and let reality settle in.