I had a soccer ball at my feet as soon as I could walk, and my first pair of cleats are still framed in a small shadow box in my bedroom. My love of the game came in preschool, and only intensified the more that I played. My kids size 9 Velcro cleats quickly turned into size 12’s, and the Velcro was replaced with laces and a pair of goalie gloves. My backyard pop-up goals became white nets in stadiums, and I grew taller and more tactical on the field. At age 13 my fingers could just touch the crossbar if I jumped at the right angle, but just barely still. Before I knew it, I was a senior in high school outgrowing my final pair of cleats, preparing to take the field for my final season. What I have come to learn, though seemingly trivial, is that the confidence and security provided by the perfect pair of cleats is nearly unparalleled.
Perhaps, I have learned the most on the soccer field. Certainly, that soccer is much more than a game, instead becoming part of me. In essence, it has taught me the most significant lessons in my life. To always be a courageous leader. To be relentlessly humble and supportive of others. The love of the game and of my teammates. The appreciation of the bountiful comradery that beams from each athlete. The excitement of winning a well-deserved championship. The bitter taste of defeat and the beauty in perseverance. Throughout the years in my life, my most cherished moments took place on the soccer field, muddy cleats and all.
I am forever bound to support GOALS Haiti. This organization has given me an outlet to share my passion with athletes across the world. To provide them with uniforms and cleats, and to empower each athlete to engage in their community. Though it is much more than that. The close bonds shared between a soccer team can never be severed. The determination, leadership, respect, and trust fostered while on the field never seem to fade. I hope that soccer takes over their life as it did mine, and that each student becomes a bold leader, and a soccer enthusiast.
As obscure as it may seem, a pair of cleats can change a life, and they surely will. Through my experiences, I have found that there is something so special about a pair of cleats that fit just right. As I hang up mine for good at the end of this season, I will not be left with a void in my heart. Through my support of GOALS Haiti, I am filling it with a much greater joy: the ability to share my love of soccer, ultimately, changing lives. Though I cannot put cleats on the feet of every child in Haiti, I will certainly give it my best effort, as its effects are clearly long lasting. -Chloe Spingler, 17