The weekend was over.
We had just finished finals.
We threw out numbers and voted on a spirit score. I ripped my cleats off. Sat in a pathetic pose that probably looked to nobody like I was stretching. And to everybody like I was pouting.
And I think it was Gwen who said, “Alright, it’s everyone’s favorite time of the day: Appreciations!”
At the end of each day of games, after spirit scores, random chalk talks, and logistics, we open up the floor to everyone to appreciate anyone or anything.
“I appreciate the leadership.”
“I appreciated the moment you filled my water.”
“You gave me a totally crucial hug that made my weekend.”
“OMG, that D!”
“I was totally hoping you’d call that timeout.”
But after this game; I wanted out of there. I was pissed. I hated everything. And everyone.
I wanted my mom to take me home; like I was ten again striking out in the bottom of the 7th. She’d buy me ice cream and we could forget that anything happened.
I wasn’t mad at anyone or anything in particular, I just wanted to forget about it. Go away. Be alone. I was in a place. I didn’t care about spirit scores. I didn’t want to stretch. And I didn’t want to do Appreciations.
I couldn’t help but remember the last time I was in that place.
At Worlds on day three or four, or ten… We decided to eat at the fields and do Appreciations at the house later. The team split up; we were all taking care of ourselves. After going out of our way to get back to the house in time for Appreciations, it became clear to my car that this meeting wasn’t happening. Some people were out eating, some went back to the fields for trade night, some were… I don’t know.
Texts went out, notes went up, but communication in a foreign country is spotty. Geli and Smalls weren’t bothered. At all. I had silly reasons, but I was mad. Half the team was just blowing off Appreciations!
People were doing their own thing and I was in a place. I needed a shower. So I went.
Sure enough, as soon as shampoo was in my hair, everyone at the house crashed my shower. I remember telling everyone to leave. “Nope! We’re doing Shower Appreciations!”
“Your huck was sweet.”
“Your voice on the sideline was perfect!”
“Thanks for helping figure out the schedule.”
And sure enough, it was helping. I couldn’t help loving these girls. Including the ones who weren’t there. I don’t even remember who all huddled outside my shower stall: “I appreciate you going out of your way to make me a part of this team by hanging out in the bathroom.”
After Sunday’s games at ECC I was back in that place. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.
But here was the team again, shoving their love down my throat.
And again, it was amazing.
I started to feel love for everything again.
Coming back from a rocky start on Saturday to play tough games in quarters, then semis, and then finals, was definitely worth appreciating. Same with the work that each person put into the tournament and games, not to mention some standout plays, hugs and high-fives.
Jill really took it home when she appreciated “Future Riot – for being able to learn from this weekend. Loving and supporting each other to come back stronger.”
Sometimes loving each other isn’t easy. Breaking a mark, taking away the live side, and endzone offense need time and practice. So does loving your team.
There are days when that around forehand draws block after turf after block. That one pass can be a frustrating struggle. You start to hate forehands. You’ll never touch a frisbee again. Then finally a perfect break pass gets around the mark, because of all the time, work, and failures put in before. Like that break, loving the team or the situation can sometimes feel like a struggle.
But we all know how amazing it feels to get it right.
Which is probably why Appreciations are now my favorite drill; anytime I go to a place, Riot sends a search party.
Anytime we face something tough, together we get through it. With love. Whether you like it or not.