Monday, March 4, 2013

Why I Am Passionate About Soccer - Part 1

I have always loved sports.  When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play basketball and be in the NBA.  I would spend hours on end outside shooting and dribbling.  My parents sent me to Isiah Thomas Basketball Camp and Dennis Rodman Basketball Camp.  It didn’t matter what camps they sent me to or how good the shoes they got me were, because I just didn’t have the athletic tools or body to really ever play basketball at a high level. 
In seventh grade I got to try out for my first team at South Christian Grade School in Kalamazoo, MI.  I remember being so excited, finally I was going to be on a team and play the sport that I loved.  Well, things didn’t go as planned and they made a special team for me and one other kid, the C team.  What it meant was we would get to dress and play for four of the B team games.  I don’t remember many of the details of the games that I played in, but I do remember being so excited.  That is my experience of playing organized basketball, the game that I loved more then any other.  When I was younger, I also played some AYSO soccer.  I liked it, but I didn’t have the love for it like I did for basketball.  I also played some soccer in high school, I was horrible, and our team wasn’t much better.  I think we won five or six games in two seasons.  I also played a little bit of adult coed soccer too.  That was all I ever knew of soccer, and I thought that I would never really play or be interested in it again.  

Being a sports fan I loved watching sports.  Durning the Pistons championship run in 2004 I watched every game of the season and even attended a couple of playoff games.  I would wake up and turn on ESPN to watch SportsCenter in the morning.  I would also watch the ESPY awards, this is like an Oscars for sports.  In 2004 during the ESPYs they gave the Arther Ashe Award to George Weah, a man that I had never heard of.  Normally I might have flipped the channel to see if anything else was on.  I typically don't watch these kinds of awards for whatever reason, much like I don't watch the lifetime achievement award during the Oscars, unless it is someone that I really like.  Well Denzel Washington happens to be one of the actors that I really like, and I could listen to him read the phone book.  So I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to hear him narrate.  I also recommend you watch it as well, I just watched it again, and it brings up so much emotion for me.  I watched that with my jaw on the ground.  How could this be, how could this be going on in the world and I not know anything about it.  I wasn't sure that I had ever heard of Liberia before in my life.  

At this same time in our life, Katie and I were really starting to think that we were going to start the adoption process.  Katie had a miscarriage a few years before, and we were having no luck getting pregnant again.  When I saw this, I knew that we were going to adopt from Liberia.  I quickly went to Google and typed in adoption in Liberia.  I found an agency that worked in Liberia and I emailed them and asked them to send me information.  At the time this agency was working with about nine different countries in Africa.  I told Katie that I had some information sent to the house about adoption in Africa. I never mentioned anything about Liberia though.  Well a few days later the information came, and Katie looked over it.  She called me at work and said that she looked it over and that Liberia was the country that she was the most interested in!  I told her that was what I was thinking too.  When I got home from work I showed her the video of George Weah getting the Arther Ashe Award.  Fast forward a year and a half and Katie and I were getting on an airplane to fly to Liberia to meet Christian, Blessing and Victoria for the first time.  

So it was soccer that got this whole thing started.  Soccer brought my kids to me, soccer helped me finally become a dad.  Little did I know what else soccer had in store for me......

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