6-3-7

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My son’s JV team finished off the season with a W yesterday in a rematch against Glacier Peak. I was able to take photos of every game but one.

Even after my son injured out of the rest of the season after three games (including the season opener), I continued to take photos while James cheered his team on from the sidelines. It wasn’t always fun; for most of the season, watching his team go on without him hurt like hell. He pushed through his doubt and fear like a champ, give or take a few mood swings and at least three Coming to Jesus talks.

Taking photos helps me as well. I get to see these boys through a truth filter, my long zoom camera lens. I saw things the parents on the bleachers missed. I glimpsed parts of these boys’ personalities, compelling, surprising features that will serve them well as men.

Marcus missed the entire season, save for the last three games, where he made a difference in turning the seven previous ties into wins. A controversial figure to an outsider, he can be mouthy with the refs and hand’s on with the opposing players. But when I looked deeper, I saw kindness coupled with scary precision. Once, he called out to one of his forwards, then kicked the ball from more than halfway across the pitch exactly in the spot where that forward would be. Far from the usual ball hog that most kids in high school can be.

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What a privilege it was to photograph the 2016-2017 JV team.

Mid-fielder Ben was tenacious as hell, always in the center of the maelstrom, and almost always the victor. He proved to be the team’s silent weapon and quiet leader when things got tough.

Cobi, that forward, made up for his smaller stature with a dogged determination, his feet always finding the ball — even through three-four goliath players. My one regret was missing his amazing goal off a corner kick.

Defender Cody, my favorite, kept the ball out of play for his keeper by strategically placing his entire body in harm’s way, while never taking a hit. I loved watching his free kicks, because, as a lefty, I never knew where that curve ball would land. In the second to the last game, it landed into the net in a perfectly timed shot around several players.

Another parent referred to defender/co-captain Sean as the American Express Card, always in the right place at the right time, just when you need him.

Juan came up from the C team, proving himself equal to the task as a mid-fielder who always won possession even against impossible odds. When the smoke and the yellow cards cleared, Juan was the one usually hustling the ball out of the mess.

The JV keeper, Connor, is just a badass. I watched direct shots deflecting off that kid, even back-to-back. He’s a miracle worker with impeccable instincts.

Another favorite player is forward/mid/defender Jonathan, who scored quite a bit for his team, often when they needed the W the most. Toward the end of the season, he was asked to moved into the defender position — a position he wasn’t as familiar with in previous plays. At the next game, he felt he let an opposing forward slip through for a costly goal, immediately dropping to the ground, angry and frustrated with himself. I knew he would pick himself up and make a comeback, which he did after another goal went past them. He scored a crucial goal off a corner, exhibiting that perfect timing and blazing speed of an attacking mid.

I could go on and on… The coaches picked well. Everyone on this team’s an asset, no question.

No, my son didn’t get to play the last game of the season. But we’re the lucky ones. We witnessed greatness in action. Watch out, these JV players are going to be unstoppable when they make Varsity. They’re not only outstanding athletes, but they’re good kids.

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