Thursday, June 21, 2007
We finally hit the road today at 6 PM. First stop was Lewis University in Romeoville to pick up Robbie from practice at 8:30 PM and then to a hotel so we could get a jump on the trip to Des Moines.
Those of you who have been reading my blogs are well aware that I have a car that may not make it to Des Moines and a brain that may not remember everything I need to get to Des Moines. So today I took my car in to have the brakes checked, the tires rotated, and the oil changed. The latter is my ""soccer trip"" ritual that probably gives me a false sense of security, but given the state of my automobile I welcome whatever security I can muster, false or real. This visit the mechanic said, ""Susan, I can't remember…have we ever done anything with your brakes?"" I have gone to this same mechanic since three cars ago. He has handled every screech, rattle, and blown air conditioning unit that I have ever had with this car. I liken his question to my doctor asking, ""Susan, I can't remember ….have I ever delivered your child?"" So my confidence sank along with that false sense of security as I answered, ""No, we have never done anything with the brakes.""
Mind you my car has 170,000 miles and the service book recommends replacing the brakes at 100,000 miles. So the fact that my pedal hit the floor when I compressed it may have been a sign that I was due for new brakes. But every time my mechanic test drove the car, he'd return and declare the brakes, ""Just fine."" I am obviously not the source of income for his summer cottage. In any case, I now have new brakes and my sense of security is restored.
So we are on the road again. Robbie is sitting next to me playing ""God of War"" which is basically a game with dark, foreboding music, graphics, and plot. Occasionally he bursts out with ""In your face!"" So I assume he is winning. This type of entertainment relaxes him. I remember ""Pong"" and it gave me an ulcer. I know I couldn't handle the stress of any game that requires me to swing a sword while simultaneously leaping across fiery abysses.
I mention the game only because it will be on continuously in the car and in the hotel room whenever he doesn't have a game or a practice or a team dinner. There will usually be at least eight other teammates in the hotel room with him shouting at the screen or at him or in general. The game will be discussed when they aren't able to play it, and will be anticipated as they return to the hotel. Team bonding no longer occurs around a campfire singing songs, like ""Spin and Marty"" bonded for those of you who remember the OLD Mickey Mouse Club.
Tomorrow we will arrive in Des Moines in time to settle into our home away from home, to get some lunch and to arrive at opening ceremonies by the allotted time. The anticipation of the event was heightened tonight as the team sat with their coaches and got the important pep talk and strategy session. Nervous energy needs to be turned into competitive energy, individual effort needs to be stepped up within the framework of a unified team, team work has to be well oiled and focused. I'm amazed that these young men and their other male and female counterparts have the maturity and the ability to sustain the athletic and mental game for the next week. Win or lose, I am in awe that they not only have come this far, but are willing to put it all on the line to go further.
When I am on the road I worry about oil leaks and flat tires. When these players are on the road they have to worry about performance, fitness, endurance, tenacity, and focus. Maybe that's why Robbie loves his game…he can see himself in the warrior and lose himself in those cyber victories before facing the real thing.