I have had this magazine ad since I was 23. Along with a photo of my patron saint, Willa Cather, Mia Hamm and this poem have watched over me in my classroom or office for 25 years. It captures exactly how I felt as a soccer player: free, strong, graceful, creative. On the soccer field, I learned to take risks and to trust myself and others. I learned that practice matters. I learned that my team was infinitely more powerful than the sum of our individual parts because we loved each other, celebrated our differences and believed we could do anything.
I finally retired my cleats a few years ago because my aging body no longer felt free or powerful on the pitch. I cherish the lessons I learned playing soccer and the friends I made. And I will always remember and seek to channel how soccer made me feel, when the world slipped away from my feet and the sky dropped down into my arms. Strong enough. And sure enough. Like a dancer.