My Soccer Comeback Update: Win or Lose, At 68, It’s Ugly

Tattered, torn, badly worn. Steeped in mud, moments, and magic. Thirsty if not ready for more.
Promoting my pickup games on Facebook got an unexpectedly massive response, fueled my self-deprecating sense of humor, and utilized my artistic skills, rendered dormant by the ongoing pandemic.
I raked an entire field when the mowing crew left huge mounds of clippings, making it potentially unplayable. The park maintenance chief subsequently offered me a job. I declined.
Duluth has numerous accessible soccer fields with nets. They’re perfect for practice and provided me an instant sense of comfort and place after moving from heat and drought-stricken Utah.
I wore the same jersey I was wearing when I almost got killed in that fateful game in 1980. Besides that, and winning 4–0, the fact that the shirt fit was perhaps most amazing.
Paramedics help a player who suffered a dislocated knee and broken arm before an indoor league game. If warming up is this hazardous, you can imagine what the games are like.
  1. Don’t attempt to play a game unless you’re in good physical condition. After years of not playing, I trained for months before entering a match. The person who wrecked her leg and arm in warmups was not ready for competition, which introduces uncontrollable contact into the conditions. If you aren’t ready, you won’t play well, others will become wary, and you risk injuring yourself and others.
  2. Explain your personal goals to other players. If they understand your situation at the onset, they’ll be more forgiving, empathetic, and easier on you. But let them know when you’re past the introductory phase and ready for more vigorous play. Pushing yourself will make your experience more exciting, your teammates will notice and appreciate your efforts.
  3. Don’t quit. You’ll make crucial and embarrassing errors. You’ll get hurt. The tricky part is knowing what’s serious and what isn’t. Don’t play if you are limping. Don’t play on vicadin or after a few beers. I never missed a game due to injury, but if you do, don’t feel guilty. Guilt is less painful than a torn hamstring. Remember, you’re learning to play with a different body than you had back in the day and someone will always be better than you. Having fun and getting exercise is the goal, not the World Cup.
OFFAL’s holiday party, December 2021: A year-end reminder that beer drinking, like soccer, is a team sport.



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Ken Schreiner is a pro videomaker, musician, former journalist, corporate survivor, Nature, soccer, and winter sports enthusiast, living in Duluth, Minnesota.