Instead of the usual request for money from its alumni, last week when I opened an email from UVIC, I received an invitation to a special ceremony to celebrate this year’s men’s varsity soccer team because they won a national championship. The team is called the Vikings, or Vikes, and apparently I am a special guest of Vikes Athletics for this event. It’s because I used to be a Vike myself, for the women’s varsity soccer team. I graduated from UVIC over 20 years ago, and this is the first time anyone has ever acknowledged that I used to play there. I’m totally going.
I don’t know anyone else who will be there, but I’m wondering if I’ll see any of my old teammates. I was only 17 when I played there, so along with many, many other mistakes I made back then, one foolish error I made was not to keep in touch with anyone from the team. We shared a lot of sweat together. The field and hill where we used to run sprints and take shots now has a building on it. I doubt that the same chain link fencing we had to climb over to run the stairs of the men’s stadium is still there either. (I do not miss that chain link fence; it earned me the nickname ‘Alpine Groome’ since I was so terrible at scaling it. Where the hell were all my teammates from, anyway, that they were so good at climbing tall chain link fences and dropping effortlessly to the ground on the other side? Curious. Also, couldn’t anyone have given our coach the keys so we could enter the stadium the normal way? Grrr.)
Those same girls I played with also concocted elaborate fake ID schemes to get me into the bar for our rookie player initiation, held up my 80s David Lee Roth style hair so I could throw up more efficiently, and probably paid for my taxi ride home too. We shared hotel rooms together on road trips and they taught me that if you eat fast food almost exclusively, your food per diem can also pay your bar tab later. Why can’t I remember more of their names? Many times I’ve both wished that Facebook existed back then so we could still be in touch, and simultaneously been so thankful that Facebook did not exist back then to forever document our dodgy exploits.
Many other UVIC soccer memories came flooding back too. I was known for always walking in and out of the first year residences carrying my cleats, and was once introduced by one fellow to his out of town friend thusly: “This is Cathy - she’s a soccer player. Check out the bruises on her shins. Can you believe it? They always look like that!” Once back in my room, my roommate was always bemoaning the fact that our garbage can was filled to overflowing with used, stinky, white athletic tape from getting my weak ankle taped before every practice and game. And then there was the fact that twice a week my practices were scheduled for the exact same hours the residence dining room was open for dinner, which meant my dinner was late and consisted of either air popped popcorn I made in my room, or kraft dinner made in the tiny ‘hot pot’ my friend had for boiling water for tea. (Oh carbs, we had some good times, didn’t we? I think I miss you most of all, carbs.)
I realize the acceptance of this invitation is directed at the elder, stately me. They are going to raise a banner in the gym in celebration at half time at the Vikes Basketball game at this event, so I imagine me and all the other former soccer players who go will be herded into one section of the stands and will at some point be asked to stand and be acknowledged. When this happens, we’ll all struggle to stand up on our crappy knees and half wave to the crowd, and people will think look at all the old farts. Am I ready to be identified this way, as one of the grand dames of the Vikes soccer past? I’m 42. I googled pictures of UVIC soccer girls now and they look impossibly young. There’s no way I could deal with slide tackling anymore. Perhaps I am ready.
But...I did score two lovely goals this week in a pick-up game where I had some sweet give-and-gos with a few superfast teenage boys that joined our game. I’m not quite done. I don’t need a cane just yet. Can I be the stately elder who still takes a sweet corner kick?
Maybe I am only ready-ish.
10 months ago