tagFirst TimeTaking One from the Team

Taking One from the Team


Growing up I used to run cross country and play soccer to stay in shape. It was something I used to get into college with as well. Although nowhere near a full ride I still had a substantial chunk of my tuition paid for. College had been good to me and I was able to find gainful employment almost immediately after graduation. My new job would take me a few hours from where I grew up but was necessary if I wanted to succeed in my chosen field. The change of scenery along with the new job and distance from family and friends meant I would be looking for things to do to occupy my time. While leaving the subdivision one morning I saw one of those yard signs advertising tryouts for a soccer club. Having played all my life and getting a youth license while in college gave me an idea. Instead of finding friends or drinking buddies I would go check out the club and see if they needed a twenty three year old coach.

I should have been warned about what I was walking into. The older boys would be playing for their High Schools in the fall but the club girls would need a coach for their two teams. What I never knew is that girls could be vindictive, cruel, mean, and full of language I didn't even hear from the guys. The teams I inherited were both pretty good but getting them under control was impossible. I found a few girls that went along with the program, a few that didn't like their last coach and a few that made sure I knew they didn't like me either. I had my work cut out for me and taming these attitudes was something I would accomplish before I could start teaching them beyond the ability I was inheriting.

Practices started at the end of the hot summer. When fall started making the weather cooler I was relieved to not see bare midriffs and tank tops anymore. They could be distracting and inappropriate at times. It seemed that any time I addressed the issue, the following outfits were even more revealing. I was happy when the weather called for warmer and less revealing clothing on these high school juniors and seniors.

When I remembered back to the cold weather at the time I saw a vision in my head that was the basis for something that would happen much later in life. It was a night that was very windy and cold. Most of the girls were wearing hats, scarfs, and hoodies. We had one girl who was a little larger than the others. Big boned but very proportionate and had the sweetest disposition of any of my players. And unlike some who would openly flirt or make inappropriate comments, Marissa never crossed any lines but would make comments that were intended to be one on one. She also did something no one else did and that was call me by my first name when we were not in earshot of others.

I found her to be confident, witty, and nowhere near as naïve as I first thought. She was by far the most mature girl of the group or at least in my eyes she was. But on this night with everyone bundled up for practice Marissa had pulled the strings of her hoodie so tight that it framed an oval around her face. All practice long I looked at her and could not find an image that I thought was prettier.

Was I that shallow that I never noticed how pretty she was because of her size? I would focus on her face for most of the remaining part of the season. We eventually did improve as a team and with winning the atmosphere changed drastically from where it had started.

After some tough considerations related to my personal life I decided at the end of that season I would not to return to the club the following fall. Mostly for work reasons but some for the selfishness of my time. I did have some things that I didn't have time for because of the practices four nights a week and games on the weekend.

Fast forward a little over four years and these girls were entering the workplace after finishing college. Brianne one of the girls that had played for me began working downstairs from my office. She came to this company because her mother worked here although I had been unaware of it all of this time. She would make runs up to my office occasionally and would latch onto my arm like she had back in high school. The constant innuendos and flirting was starting to get thick when one day she announced her engagement.

Brianne convinced me to come to her wedding reception explaining how all of the girls from back in high school would be there and I would have loads of fun. She mentioned they knew I worked with her and always had questions that I could finally answer for myself. I was not sure of the reasons at the time but we never discussed other players from those soccer teams.

Of course I agreed to go and when the day finally came I put on my best suit and sat in the church to watch the bridal party make its way to the altar. The girls were all very pretty and I recognized some of the bridesmaids from the soccer team. Other members of the team appeared scattered throughout the pews and I met multiple pairs of eyes smiling back at me. I am not sure why I was even concerned but I did notice that most of them had a date in attendance at the church which meant they most likely would come paired to the reception.

As they passed by me in the aisle I met many of the bridesmaid eyes and was completely taken by how beautiful they all were. After the third girl passed I looked up into the eyes of Marissa and nearly collapsed. She was even more radiant than I had ever imagined. With her hair done and lifted out of the way her skin complexion and smile was flawless. I am pretty sure the look frozen on my face was noticed by her as she blushed and lowered her head continuing forwards to join the others at the altar. I saw Brianne pass to the 'oohs' and 'ahs' usually offered to the bride from the people in attendance but my thoughts were once again on Marissa. I would have to be very careful about this evening.

Somewhere it is written I suppose, that guys aren't supposed to enjoy weddings. There is a whole lot of fuss for one grand day and then it was over. But I was actually enjoying this for so many reasons. These were all people that I had gotten to know after spending six to eight hours a week with. These ladies had grown into breathtaking woman. We had many shared memories and I was anxious to catch up to some of them and their life stories since we were last together.

The reception took place in the banquet hall of a large downtown hotel. Most of the guests took advantage of the room rate for the evening and had gathered in the hotel lobby between the ceremony and the reception to check into their rooms. It was also the place where some of the girls were able to approach me and reacquaint themselves.

In all of her hectic planning for the wedding Brianne had not filled them in on the fact that we worked together and I would be in attendance. I also got strange vibes from them when they found out I had made an appearance without a girlfriend on my arm. Even before drinks started flowing for the evening I was getting naughty innuendos and suggestions for dances later from some of my former players.

One of the girl's mom even made a crude suggestion about leaving the young inexperienced ones alone and to satisfy my thirst on a more mature woman. Yes, I will have to be careful tonight I repeatedly told myself as I took my overnight bag up to my room.

When I arrived at the hall I was shown to my seat at a large round table near the dance floor. The seating had placed two of the girls with their dates along with two other girls, one other guy and myself who were all seated alone. Jeremy was dating Kaley one of the bridesmaids and the girls were school friends who had not played soccer and had never met me before. All throughout dinner Jeremy was talking up the two girls on each side of him. This didn't sit well with Kaley who was staring him down from the bridal table as he was providing animation and humor to each of his stories.

My attention was drawn to the two girls who had played on my team and we spent most of the dinner time catching up. They were not aware that I worked at the same place as Brianne and her mother but quickly caught up on everything I shared with them during the meal.

It wasn't long after the cake was served and the DJ returned before Kaley arrived at the table to drag Jeremy away. She didn't look happy at all especially when one of the girls asked him to save her a dance while Kaley was in earshot of the request.

The flurry of activity began as many people flocked to the open bar and the DJ called some of the wedding party to the dance floor. The different required dances took place, bride and groom, bride and dad, and so on but when I saw Marissa dance with her required groomsmen I realized I was standing there with a pang of jealousy in my heart. I watched her for a while and after our eyes met while she looked over his shoulder I think we both got uncomfortable and looked away from each other.

I did have a couple of dances with various girls mostly for fun including one with the lobby mom who reiterated her offer for some upstairs fun before I was whisked away into the arms of another. The drinks started having an effect on the girls about an hour after dinner. Some of them became more vocal and giddy. I encouraged Rachel and Tammy to join me at my table to get them off of their feet and away from the bar or these two would not remember most of this evening.

The conversation at the table started out with a little reminiscing, 'do you remember when', 'you never knew this but', and so on with each one getting more interesting by the minute. Within twenty minutes I was sitting alone with seven of the old players and started receiving the third degree on everything in my life.

In hindsight they had dragged me into deeper waters but I had gone so willingly. That is until the questions started getting difficult to answer honestly.

"Who was your favorite player on the team?" Janelle asked.

"I didn't have one favorite, you were all my favorites." I responded trying to avoid the dangerous line of questioning.

"Oh come on coach, you had favorites. There were some girls you never yelled at."

"Maybe they didn't need it!"

"Bull shit, I mean come on, tell us who it was." Janelle wasn't letting up.

I tried to talk about those who worked hard, those who set examples, those who played through pain, etc. but I was not having any luck in this.

"Who had the nicest legs? Surely you saw our legs more than anything else."

This question came from shy little Alyssa who knew she had a great compact little figure. This one would require some thought before responding. I thought that maybe if I didn't answer directly I could escape this one.

"Yes Alyssa you had great muscular legs." Thinking this was a nice try on my part.

"No dice coach, you didn't answer. I didn't ask if you thought I had nice legs, I asked who you thought had the nicest? We all had nice legs and muscles but whose did you stare at the most?"

When I made the comment that I didn't stare at anyone's legs the girls at the table all laughed in unison. Busted, I thought. But whose legs did I stare at? Wow, there were a lot of them to look at it.

"So did you like mine because they were tight? Or because they were attached to my little round ass?" Alyssa the said with a huge smile.

"Yes to both." I answered feeling like if I didn't they were not letting me go.

"Who else then?" She continued.

"Look, I am not going down that road. You already seem to have an idea anyway."

The questions that followed ranged from best player, most fun to coach, who had the best hair, and on and on. The further we got into the conversation the more girls we had at the table. But to me the one that was missing was Marissa. When I looked up at one point she was sitting at the bridal table alone and it broke my heart. It was worse when she looked my way and caught me staring at her again that night.

"If you could have anyone of us from the team who would it be?" Kaley suddenly asked.

"Yah, who would you pick? Alyssa? Kaley? Sammy? Who?" Ashley asked.

"I am sorry, I won't answer that." I tried to stop this line of questioning.

"So would it be Kaley?" Alyssa probed further.

"Or Sammy? Who would it be?"

"Hey how did I get removed from the running?" Ashley shouted drawing attention to our conversation.

When I looked up I saw that Marissa was still sitting alone and I was heartbroken.

"Excuse me girls, I have to make another appearance on the dance floor. I have not totally embarrassed myself yet." I said as I got up and walked away.

"Hey no fair, you didn't answer the question. But you will." Alyssa said.

Our eyes met as I walked towards the front of the room where Marissa was sitting and we looked at each other for the duration of my walk. When I went to the side of the bridal tables and came around back to where she was seated she started to show a hint of blushing and tried to sit up having no idea why I was approaching her this way. She turned towards me in her seat and when I reached my hand out to hers she very tentatively placed hers in mine.

"I would like to dance at least one song with you tonight. Can I?" I stumbled out.

"Ok. Are you sure? With me? I am not a dancer." She asked quietly.


She allowed me to guide her to the dance floor by hand and then I turned towards her and put my arms gently around her. It was at least thirty seconds of small dance movements before we were comfortably in each other's arms. I am not sure what anyone else thought, I am not sure I even really cared, but for now I was feeling an emotional high holding her in my arms. The top of her head was even with my lips and I struggled pretty hard not to bend forward and kiss her. She may not have felt my sincerity in the hug, but kissing her would open up a lot to her.

"You look amazing tonight Marissa."

A moment passed while she processed what I had just said and then she leaned back and looked into my eyes before resting her head back on my chest without saying anything. It was my turn to process what I had just said and I couldn't believe I said amazing and not beautiful, radiant, or anything else that would have made her realize how I felt. It felt so good to have her cradled in my arm and regardless of what anyone else thought, Marissa was the most beautiful person here tonight.

Two songs later the DJ started to play some faster music and dancing in each other's arms was no longer an option. Marissa thanked me as she excused herself and ran off to the ladies room.

"That was your answer wasn't it?" Ashley asked out loud as I returned to the table.

"What was my answer?" I tried to innocently ask.

"Oh come on, we all saw you. That wasn't the way you hold someone just to dance." Ashley said.

"It's OK. We understand. We are a little jealous but we understand. But just say it out loud." Kaley said in slight defense of me.

"Yeah, would your answer have been Marissa?" Ashley said while convinced that she had me on the ropes.

"Somehow even if I said yes the questions would continue." I responded while trying to form a stand against them.

As the barrage of questions continued I saw her return form the ladies room and when we met each other's look, the rest of the girls at the tables saw where I was looking and simultaneously they all looked back to Marissa which instantly caused her to turn away knowing we were all talking about her. She walked over to where a couple of the others bridesmaid were standing and listened in to them while the table I was at changed their line of questioning.

"So it's Marissa. Why do you like Marissa?" Rachel asked after sitting silently through the initial line of questions.

"Ok, that's enough. Yes, if I had to answer that question and choose from anyone here it would be Marissa. But do not read anything into that other than she would be an ideal person for me to become involved with. That doesn't answer any other questions about my choice in your figures, legs, butts, or anything else, nor will I, so stop."

Apparently I said that with a little too much emphasis as all of the girls sat stunned in silence. Did I sound angry? Did I make them realize they were pushing too much? Maybe, but at least I was left alone as some of them headed towards the ladies room and a couple of them went to the bar leaving just Rachel and I left at the table.

"I am sorry, I didn't mean to pry. But just so you know, Marissa is a very sweet person and I am happy you feel that way about her. Just find a way to tell her. OK? She could use some encouragement right now. She recently broke up from a long term relationship and is still pretty down about it." She asked as she got up to leave as well.

The DJ was cycling through the mix of wedding favorites with chicken dances, trains, the Macarena and everything else that kept the focus on the dance floor. I would have been at ease but when I looked some of the girls from my table had joined Marissa at the side of the dance floor and were engaged in a conversation. At one point she looked up and past them right to me and it was my turn to blush and hide my eyes as I felt her stare.

That turned out to be an opportune time for me to call an end to my evening as there was now a clear path to the door with everyone up at the dance floor. In just a matter of moments I was through the lobby to the elevator and walking down the eighth floor corridor to my room. It felt good to get rid of my suit coat and after it was hung I walked to the window as I loosened my tie while looking out.

The city below looked alive and an ambulance or squad car could be seen making its way down one of the main streets but the sealed window prevented me from hearing any of the sounds. Enveloped in silence and thought brought me back to the vision of seeing Marissa in the church.

She was so beautiful walking up the aisle in maroon shoulder less gown. With her hair up the picture I had of her face, her neck, and her shoulders would be one I would remember for a long time. A light knocking on my door jolted me out of that vision and I turned from the window to go answer it.

My heart sunk immediately when I opened it and found Marissa standing there with tears in her eyes. She gazed directly at me and failed to form any coherent sounds initially.

"Marissa, are you OK? What is the matter? Please come in." I shot out moving aside so that she could enter.

She walked in as I closed the door and I wanted so bad to wrap my arms back around her as she turned to me.

"Is what you said true? Did you mean it?" She sobbed as she gently formed these words.

"Is what true? What are you asking?" I wanted to be sure we were on the same page.

"You told them that if you had your choice to be with anyone here tonight you would choose me. Did you say that?"

"Yes Marissa, I said that and I meant it. They also saw the way you and I danced and they knew I meant it when I said it as well."

I was told to be delicate with her and I now had this precious little flower in arms reach. My instinct was to reach out and pull her into a hug. One as strong as the bond we had on the dance floor. I barely opened my arms before she jumped into my chest and held me as though she was avoiding falling into the ocean. She kept re-gripping my body trying desperately to hold me tighter which I didn't think was possible.

I had my arms around her and now in the privacy of my room I had no intention of passing on the opportunity to kiss her on the top of her head. Her hair had a floral scent to it and I just held my nose in her hair inhaling as much of her as I possibly could. She was in my arms where I think we both wanted her to be but her sobbing told me she was not sure she belonged here just yet.

"Don't cry!" I said softly.

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byLiamChristopher© 2 comments/ 23116 views/ 12 favorites

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