I stood in the warm eighty-five degree weather, wind blowing from the right. I hadn’t been good enough I thought to myself even though I was probably the best there. The man in front of us started listing off names.
“Mike W. John S. Bryan P. and last but not least,” I had lost almost all of my hope, there was no way I was the last name on the list, “Andy T. and that's all.”
I was filled with regret of how the tryout went. I thought I was the best one there but obviously the coaches didn’t think that .
I turned towards the exit gate and started making my way down the field when I heard a coach yell “Hey, you in the red shoes, come over here!” I didn’t know if he was talking to me but I went towards him anyways.
“What do you need sir?”
“You made it, come with me.”
I woke up with sun shining in my eyes. It was the first game of the season and not only that it was the first time Ann Arbor was in the USL and to make that even better the first game in the new stadium, Washtenaw Stadium.
The starting eleven had come out last night, I was on the bench which was expected being only nineteen but the manager told me I’d come on and make my debut.
I was trying to remain cool but I couldn’t contain my happiness. I would be playing in front of 30,000 people, I was getting payed to play the thing I love most.
The match started at 9:30 so I had a whole day of preparation. I had hardly slept at all last night not only because I was my making debut as a professional soccer player but it was also my first night in my new apartment.
Upstairs a big window shined the bedroom of my apartment and downstairs I had a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and an extra bedroom which I plan to use as something different.
I decided it would be nice to invite a few of my friends to my new house even though something strange has been going on with them, they were coming to the game tonight. I sent them a text on a group chat.
I walked to my fridge and got a platter of cheese and crackers and boiled some water for tea. I love tea so much, it is good for any occasion.
It was a perfect day for my first game, under the lights, I couldn’t imagine a better start. My whole family would be there, my four siblings, two parents, and of course Nate and Jason
I went out onto the deck and waited for them to respond. What are they doing? How have both of them not even seen the message I sent to them? I thought to myself.
Minutes passed with no response then hours passed. I had gone through three of my favorite music albums without any response. I knew they wouldn’t ignore me, they’re my best friends even though we’ve slowly been going separate ways these past few years.
I finally came to the conclusion that they were not gonna make it even if they had read the message. They were probably just busy and I was just overthinking the whole situation.
It was 1:00 and I’ll that I have had was tea, cheese, and crackers which seems bad but at the moment my happiness is fueling my body not food.
Happiness can do some insane things. Happiness can heal any wound but only for the amount of time happiness has visited you. Happiness is so extraordinary that it can make you strong in your weakest moments but can also make you week in your strongest moments. Happiness was all I needed right now, and I had it.
“AFC AFC AFC Ann Arbor! AFC AFC AFC Ann Arbor!” The crowd was signing at the top of their lungs. They were all holding up their scarfs, flairs were going off in the ultra section, and the small group of away supporters looked frightened.
It was 1-1 in the 65th minute and I was still on the bench. The stadium was packed and the fans were excellent but I wanted to get onto that pitch, I wanted to feel the grass, hear my name sung by the fans, score a goal.
“Fabio warm up, your on in three minutes,” the coach told me after he took a long look at the bench.
I walked over to where there were two other players warming up. I started counting off my streches “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two, three, then there was silence. I looked behind me towards the field. New York had scored, they were in the lead with twenty-five minutes to go and just before I was getting subbed on.
I went over to the half line and waited for the fourth official to put my number on the board. We could still do this, we could at least get a point from the draw.
I heard the announcers speaker turn on “Making his debut, Fabio Stindl!” the roar of the crowd was louder than I had expected and with that roar came immense pressure.
I felt the cool breeze of wind as I walked onto the pitch for the first time ever. The crowd was even louder when on the pitch. I could have never expected this good of an atmosphere and it almost felt undeserved to have such good fans. I looked up at the sky filled with thousands of stars.
“Boom!” I looked behind me “Boom!” screams came from all over the stadium then again “Boom!” no one knew what was going on.
Fans ran across the pitch and screams rang around the stadium. People were jumping over the fences out of the stadium and out of the corner of my eye I saw two men standing on the top of the hill right next to the east stand with no fright shown, no emotion..
Something bad was happening, something really bad was happening. My vision got blurry and I fell to the ground wishing it was a bad dream but it wasn’t.
One woman yelled it was a bomb others said it was an attack and both seemed true yet hard to believe at the same time.
More people ran onto the field then into the locker rooms. I could hardly hear anything after the loud noises of bombs. My vision was getting blurrier but somehow I made it to the locker room.
People were crying in the locker rooms and when I sat down I noticed I was still shaking uncontrollably. The day had promised so much and ended with such grief and sadness.
Oh how I wish my dreams were just dreams.