Halfback

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
January/February 2002

By Andrea Bachmann, Illustrated by Teddy Harvey

The score was tied, one to one, in the second half. It was a hot July day, the kind where people say you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, or however the saying goes. The sun was beating down on the soccer field like crazy, and everyone on our team was getting tired, especially me. I don’t exactly have the greatest endurance when it comes to running.

So I was taking a nice, long break on the sidelines, having a drink from my water bottle. I poured some water on my short brown hair and down the back of my red uniform to cool off. Then I sat with my teammates, watching the game. I’d been there for about five minutes when my coach called me over. I got up from the bench tiredly and stood next to him. “Andrea,” he said, keeping his eyes on the field, “you wanna play some halfback?”

Now, for anyone who doesn’t know how soccer works, there are basically three rows of players, not including the goalie. Halfback is the one in the middle. I usually played fullback, or defense, back by the goal. I liked it back there. I was used to it, I’d been playing that position since second grade at least, and it was pretty simple for me.

Halfback playing soccer

I watched as the ball soared straight through the air

I did not want to play halfback. I had only played there once or twice before in practice, maybe one time in a game. And this was an important game, it would determine our place in the tournament; I couldn’t play halfback. “No,” I refused.

No wasn’t enough for my coach, though. He wouldn’t take that for an answer. To him, asking me, “Wanna play some halfback?” was the same as saying, “Go play halfback position now!”

“I can’t!” I begged him. “There’s no way! You can’t put me there, I can’t play halfback!” It did no good. I couldn’t convince him that this was a mistake. He insisted on putting me in halfback position anyway.

When the next opportunity came, he yelled “Sub, Ref!” and pushed me onto the field. “Let’s go, Andrea, it’s just like fullback, only up a little farther. It’s not that hard.” That was basically the only advice I got.

I dragged my feet along, walking onto the field. Come on, it’s not that bad, just like fullback. You can do it, I repeated to myself. You can do this. Slowly, I took my position at halfback. I told myself I’d do a good job, but I didn’t really believe it.

Honestly, if you must know, it wasn’t too hard, playing halfback, but for some reason I still felt like I was doing everything wrong. I couldn’t kick right or pass right or do much of anything. At least, I didn’t think so.

Anyway, the game went on. Just when I thought it would be over soon, someone kicked the ball to me. I was wide open, and I didn’t see anyone coming toward me as I ran to kick the ball. Suddenly, I heard Courtney, another halfback on my team, yelling at the top of her lungs, “Shoot, Andrea, shoot!”

So I did. And then I watched as the ball soared straight through the air and curved to land right in the corner of the goal. It was one of those kicks that my coach would call beautiful. I never understood how a sweaty, dirty sport like soccer could be considered beautiful, but it was. I had scored a beautiful goal. Realizing this, I screamed and laughed as my teammates joined my cheers.

I couldn’t believe it. Sure, I’d scored a goal before, but never like this one, and never from halfback.

It turned out that it was the game-winning goal, and it helped our team get into the finals for that tournament. We all went home with silver medals. Now, I play halfback all the time. In fact, I’d rather play there than anywhere else.

Halfback Andrea Bachmann

Andrea Bachmann, 13 St. Louis, Missouri

Halfback Teddy Harvey

Teddy Harvey, 12
Williamsburg, Virginia

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