An Eerie Ending - Aubrey Bledsoe

We were just about to finish our season in Australia when the news started getting intense. Every day it seemed like I would wake up with a phone full of text messages from back home asking if I would even be able to return to the States. Things with the virus weren’t as bad in Australia. Us Americans on the team wanted to finish the season in Australia, but we were a little scared about being banned from entering the States again. I felt far away from my loved ones and only hoped I’d be able to make it back. 

The last week we were there for the Grand Final game was a bit eerie. We played our final championship game in a massive stadium with only 100 family and friends in attendance. As the No. 3 seed, we were up against the No. 1 seed, which had gone undefeated all season. Though we had lost to them 2-1 earlier in the season, we were confident we could beat them if we played our best. Our team chemistry had never been better. With the world in an upheaval, we had each other, we had soccer, and we were going to take home one last win. 

In the 10th minute, the other team scored, and it was because of a mistake on my part. The girl took a shot, which had a weird spin, and the ball bounced out of my hands and spun backward into the net. I’m still not sure how it happened; it was a freak thing. I was a bit shocked, then frustrated and disappointed in myself. It’s a save I always make. And in a championship game, you want your teammates to be able to count on you, especially in those big moments. It wasn’t our day; I felt really gutted. As a veteran player and leader on the team, I felt like I let my team down. 

I wanted more than anything to win for the club. It was my last soccer game in who knows how long. You can’t find sports anywhere these days! I was using that to beat myself up more — wishing I could end on a high note. The day of the loss, and the day after, I was pretty down on myself. When these things happen, I don’t want to ignore the frustration. I know I need to acknowledge it so that it won’t resurface later. But I also don’t want to stay there. Yes, I wanted to win and I put my heart and soul into that game, but I have to keep things in perspective. 

Just like with the state of things in our world right now with the virus, it’s really easy to let anxiety and worry build up in our hearts, but as Christians we know that God’s mercy is new every morning, so we can gain a fresh perspective. In the grand scheme of things, it’s soccer. I have incredible bonds with my teammates, who do not blame me for losing a game. I love my team, I love those girls, and I had a great year for which I am thankful. And I was able to get on one of the last international flights back to be with my family. 

I feel very blessed by the fact that I still have my job, my team, my family and my health. I’m grateful for those who are risking their lives on the front lines, treating and caring for those who are sick during this time. Soccer is a game, and I’m blessed with the talent and ability to play it well. I will gladly wait until it’s safe to play again, I just hope no more lives are lost and many are able to get back to their families. 

This year, I gave my heart and soul into my game, which is all I ask of my teammates and all they ask of me. I can wake up with a fresh perspective as I accept God’s mercy for today. 

— Aubrey Bledsoe, NWSL’s Washington Spirit goalkeeper

Aubrey Bledsoe is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Aubrey’s profile on The Increase: https://theincrease.com/author/aubrey-bledsoe/ 

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