These girls made up three fourths of the North High defense in 1997-1998, when I played in goal. I transferred to North for my senior year, which was probably a strange move. But it absolutely ended up being the right call. Sometimes I wonder about how good I was. I couldn’t make varsity at Ft. Myers, but moved to North and helped them win districts that year. I was recruited to play in college, but it was the late 90s, and a lot of girls who weren’t college level played college ball.
But then I remember that 7 years after I graduated, my college won the first of four NAIA national championships, so maybe I could play.
These girls could play though. They were also three fourths of some seriously fast track relay teams. 4X100 fast. Do you know how fast that is? Let’s just say that if your plan was for a quick counters against us, that was always a doomed plan. Because it is one thing to have one defender on your back, chasing you into the goal area to face a goalkeeper that would take the ball, hoping to get a little piece of you. But three? Good luck keeping the ball, brah.
This year’s North High Alumni Game was a success! No one died! No one was “seriously” hurt (if you don’t count the girl who was accidentally tackled on the other team). I say accidentally, because I really don’t think the guy who tackled her even saw her… but she hit the ground hard and didn’t play anymore.
For me, it was kind of subdued. I wasn’t planning to play in it. When I flew down, I did so two weeks before the game, and I was focused on my mom being in the hospital. Also, you know how I feel about giving Spirit Airlines one additional dollar beyond my fare, so I was trying to put two weeks worth of clothes into a backpack. So, I didn’t bring gloves or my turfs. I actually played in goal in yoga pants and running shoes. I did take a ball off my face early (as one does when one doesn’t have gloves). But it was all good.
It was nice catching up with people from my past. I was marveling with my mom over how some people can stay in a circle of friends for decades. I feel it acutely when I am around my North High friends. Maybe I would feel differently if I saw my Ft. Myers High friends more… but therein lines a major difference. My favorite people from Ft. Myers High are scattered all around the country, California, Virginia, Boston, etc. My favorite North High people are still mostly in Ft. Myers. Strangely, my sister, brother, and I have all moved away… so that is different.
Maybe I am just incredibly shallow. Maybe I am just not capable of sustaining these kinds of friendships for decades and over distance. I wondered if gender had something to do with it. Like, maybe guys don’t change as much after high school as girls do. Maybe the act of altering one’s appearance every day of out life makes girls more susceptible to change- to fit in, to be liked, to manage the expectations and emotions of people around us.
Or maybe it is all just in my head.
It could be that.