Stacie’s Story ~The Blessing of Soccer~

Stacie is a daughter of Bethel Skinker, MEANS volunteer. She will play soccer for the next four years at Calvin College.

Here is her story.

When I think about soccer I remember the first time I laced up my own pair of cleats and joined my best friends out on the pitch. I remember the excitement of scoring my first goals as a little girl, the cheers erupting from the crowd. I remember the satisfaction I felt after finally beating an opponent with a step-over move. As I look back on old photos, the joy soccer brought me as a kid was apparent by the jubilant expressions on my face.

Soccer has positively shaped me into the person I am today in innumerable and invaluable ways. I know friendship because of soccer. I know sacrifice because of soccer. I know mentorship because of soccer. I know the blessing of soccer.

Growing up as a rambunctious little girl, soccer began as a way to expend some energy. My parents would drop me off at practice in the infamous soccer mom van and I would join several other girls with similar amounts of energy. We learned, we thrived, and we grew together in our love for the game. This common bond sparked immediate friendships. As we won together, cheered together, lost together, cried together, I was able to experience true friendship at its finest. Soccer has given me the opportunity to bond with a vast amount of people from all backgrounds — people I never would have had the chance to meet or get to know otherwise.

Soccer has taught me sacrifice. My most used phrase throughout my youth soccer career was undoubtedly, “I can’t–I have soccer.” It wasn’t always easy missing school events and turning down social events for soccer, but when I stepped off that field a better player, as I placed a new medal around my neck, every extra drop of sweat, and every extra hour of practice was suddenly worth it. There’s a famous quote that goes, “sacrifice is being willing to give up something good for something better.” Without soccer I would not have been able to personally experience the truth in that saying. In life, when I’m ready to give into immediate desires, I will remember the satisfaction that comes from working hard and sacrificing good things, for greater things. I now know it’s worth it.

Displaying talents for everyone to see automatically opens up a field of opportunities. Younger athletes look up to you, amazed at your superior size, speed, and skills. From the stands they watch in utmost fascination. You’re a role model in their eyes. Soccer allows you to make a difference in younger athletes’ lives, both on and off the field. Last December I visited some family in the Philippines. One day we stopped at a local orphanage and spent the whole day with orphaned children. When the kids saw that I had a soccer ball with me, they overflowed with excitement. In the front yard of the orphanage we played soccer–hours and hours of soccer. I taught each kid how to properly kick the ball, I taught them how to head the ball, and I witnessed the smiles on their faces as they realized that someone had just spent time and energy on them, something they so seldom experienced beforehand. Soccer provided a common interest through which we were able to connect and it gave me the opportunity to make an impact in those kids’ lives. It was as much of a blessing for me as it was for the kids.

Throughout my youth career, soccer has helped me as an individual by teaching me the values of friendship, sacrifice, and mentorship while broadening my eyes to the cultures and backgrounds of different people soccer has the power to bring together.

Stacie Skinker

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