play on

Well, the gals finished 4th in the bracket. Mags scored but one goal all weekend. And yet. I'd be hard pressed to think of a time I was prouder of her. 
This Elite team is Maggie's team. She's been on it for--what?--three years now? Virtually the entire team from last year has graduated, off to college. 
The team just below them have all moved up. Mags is one of maybe 3 total seniors on the team. But the two others were not there this weekend.  
And Mags, while not new to the Elite team, was an outsider to their game. It didn't bother her--she knew it going in. This isn't a complaint about anything at all, simply a treatise on the newness of Maggie. A stranger in her own land. 
They have her on attack which makes sense, as she tends to be a leading goal scorer, except she's better at Middie. In the middle, she can scamper all over the field on her fast wheels and do whatever needs to be done. 
She has a way of seeing what is happening on the entire field and using it to make plays happen. At attack, she can score but only if she's fed the ball. And she wasn't. A lot of her open calls went unnoticed and unanswered. Her waving stick in the air, her shout of "HERE!!" ...passed over. 
Again, it was completely understandable. They don't know her and this was really the first tournament situation they'd been in as a new team. In a tournament, let's be honest--you do what works. And these girls are amazing. And things work, things are tried and true. And random Maggie at Attack is not a necessary puzzle piece yet. 
For three games she watched. Prowled her end of the field. Adjusted her mouth guard. Waited for an opening.
For three games she did what she could, though not much was asked of her. 
My heart hurt a little for her, though not much. In this, at least, she does not lack confidence or clarity. 
"They don't know me," she said when we got in the car after the first day. Very practical. Not a dent in her awareness of her ability. It made me proud. You know when your kids are hurting--this wasn't that. She just didn't know where she fit yet. 
Today dawned. Same old, same old. And from her lonely, bored position of attack--I saw her see it. Not consciously. She only sees the game on the field, not herself in it. But I saw HER SEE what this team needed from her and it wasn't a scorer. It wasn't a star.  
"Oh, here we go," I said to the mom next to me. "Maggie sees something in their game plan, or something in a player and she has an idea." 
The woman looked kind of quizzically at me. A vague smile. She doesn't know me either. 
"Just wait. The girls are about to score." I said.
She ate up the ground running to another player, then another, then another. 
Pointing. Gesturing. Back to her spot. Play began and these three girls, ostensibly, did what she said. Maggie didn't take the goal, but she passed it to girl who did. 
And again. 
And again. 
Pointing. Gesturing. 
Different play. 
And I'll not take all the credit for Maggie. She only had the plan. Only had the voice and the confidence to speak it. And these girls listened to her like the teammates they will become. Today, Maggie took the role not given to her at all. She did not turn herself into a leading scorer, she didn't reclaim that role--but she turned herself into what they needed--a leader. 
"What did you say to those girls on the field?" I asked after the game.
"Nothing. I just taught them the play we used to run when the other team was too good at the draw."
And even though they lost the game, I could not have been prouder of her level of play. That she knew that great players teach. Great players pass it on.
Play on, my girl. In all the ways that matter.

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