Walking through Chappaqua on a Saturday morning, you see bright green specks spread out across the Recreation Field. It is a team of AYSO kindergarteners, featuring miniature players with uniforms down to their ankles and stubby shin guards strapped to tiny legs. Among the mass of little athletes, you spot a girl standing off to the side.
She sprouts curly pigtails from the sides of her head, sports her very first pair of cleats, and holds a bright pink soccer ball in her small hands, although she has no idea what to do with it yet. Right now, all she can think about is her own excitement. She has no idea how busy, crazy, and extraordinary her life will become after these very first moments of her Chappaqua sports career.
That girl is me. Thirteen years later, I am not much different, even after a whirlwind of sports, teams, practices, games, coaches, teammates, schools, and memories.
For as long as I can remember, I have been playing sports in Chappaqua. I have hit almost all of them–soccer, track, basketball, lacrosse, softball, swimming, tennis–and have proudly worn the names of Chappaqua and Greeley across my uniforms.
I always wanted to be doing something, and luckily for me, I always had a home on a Chappaqua team.
Things changed, naturally; these past few years, it became less likely to find me on the upper soccer field at Gedney Park, but much easier to catch me warming up on the Greeley track or out on a run around town. Even so, Chappaqua sports are among the most defining aspects of my 18 years in this town. In this ode to the crazy schedules, amazing memories, and incredible friendships that went along with these many years of sports, I can finally say thank you.
As I near the end of my ninth and final season running for Greeley, I find myself struggling to describe just what track did for me. Despite being an individual sport, track is united, supportive, and team-centered; the friendship I feel for and from my teammates is unparalleled, and it is this camaraderie that has kept me coming back each season.
We train and compete together, and we savor all that the experience has given us, championing each personal athletic achievement and celebrating the relationships that got us there. Looking back, these connections were there every step of the way, from the track to the field and beyond.
Of course, my athletic experience was not perfect. There were injuries. There were bad moments. There were times when I lost my confidence, and others when I questioned my participation altogether. Really, I was never the best at what I did. I was never the athlete you noticed, the girl who stood out amongst her teammates and competitors.
But on the eve of my graduation from Greeley, everything looks different. As the things that I thought would last forever become “lasts” themselves, I choose not to remember the negatives. How could I? I have so much to be thankful for. It was a wild ride, and I would not change a thing.
For me, the ending is perfect. Greeley track and field won the League Championship, and I am coming full circle with one last season of soccer on the coed high school AYSO team. However, it is bittersweet. It is certainly not easy to walk away from 13 years of Chappaqua sports. Somehow, the fields at Gedney Park will always belong to me. The Greeley track will always feel like home, even when it is being reconstructed.
And when I walk through town on a Saturday morning and see young athletes running around in front of their cheering parents, I will think about the incredible years they have ahead of them. It is their turn now.
While I am excited for what lies ahead, part of me will always be here, in a green uniform three sizes too large, kicking my pink soccer ball around the field next to Town Hall. And who knows? Over college breaks, you just might catch me on a run around Chappaqua. Some things never change.