“What do you mean the games are Sunday morning?”
“Mom, it's just for the playoffs. It'll last a month, month and a half, tops, if we go all the way. Coach said we have a real shot!”
“But why Sunday morning? Anna, all season long your soccer matches have been Saturday mornings.”
“Coach said it's because our season is going to overlap the next league that's starting. They'll be using it all day Saturday. We've never made playoffs before, so it hasn't been an issue till now. There's other stuff going on at the center in the evenings, so all that was left was Sunday mornings.”
“Can't they use another arena? Surely there's some school's gym or something.”
Anna sighed and felt the tears starting to burn. “A gym's not big enough. Besides, our team has the best facility. The newest.”
“They'll just have to do without you. The second string midfielder will have to step up.”
Anna heard her world crash around her in those words. She had to find some way to convince her mom to let her play. “I... ” Anna stopped herself. She ran off to her room, tears pouring before she reached the top of the stairs.
After a few minutes of tears soaking her pillow, her phone started ringing. She ignored it. She didn't want to talk to anybody. A few seconds later, she heard the beep that signaled whoever it was had left a voicemail. She ignored that, too. She just stared at the posters of Pele' and the Olympic teams, as the tears slowed. She counted her team trophies and MVP awards, one by one.
Her dad's car clanked and rattled as he pulled in the driveway, followed by the squeaking back door. She knew her mom was going to try to convince her dad to make her miss the playoffs. She took a deep breath. “Lord, please help. This might get me a shot at that scholarship. I have to play, I just have to. Mom just has to see how important this is. It's not just a game, it's my future. You gave me the talent and Your word says to do everything we do to You. I couldn't play if You hadn't put it in me. Amen.”
Her mom's voice sounded like the birds in the tree out back when the cat got out. Her dad's low rumble began to settle her ruffled feathers.
Coach walked into the locker room. Anna popped out the earbuds as she put her praise music on pause.
“Ladies, this is it, the final match. You've worked so hard to get here. I'm proud of all of you, win or lose.” She looked around at her players. “We have some special guests today.” She pushed open the door.
Anna about dropped her MP3 player. “What? How?”
Her parents smiled. Her dad moved over to her and pulled her into a sideways hug. “Even the pastor can take a vacation day now and then.”
The coach grinned. “Pastor Carter, would please do the honor of praying for the team before we go out?”
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