your long-term and short-term goals?
By Leah Tyler
stepped on the field, at six, I’ve identified myself this way. Every goal was
directed toward soccer—the next game, playoffs, sectionals, awards, next
season, college, Olympics . . . I ate, slept, and breathed soccer. It was
like I didn’t know anything else. Like there was no me.
Well, they were, but they weren’t, if you know what I mean. When my dad signed
me up, they didn’t have teams for my age, so they put me on a team with kids up
to ten. I don’t know why they took me; we lived in a small town, so maybe they
didn’t have enough kids. I’m coordinated and I’ve always had a lot of energy,
totally key. Right away, I was the best on the team.
than it was. The other kids were all older and bigger, so no one expected me to
be better, but think about it: my dad played college football. I have good
genes. I like sports. What six-year-old wants to practice all the time? Me.
So it wasn’t like I had competition. I had a head start plus my father behind
me, pushing me, overseeing my workouts. I should have been the best.
working out, training hard. I didn’t even know why. Because I was supposed
to. My dad had all these plans. He put a lot of time into my soccer. I
couldn’t let him down. My coach relied on me, my teammates depended on me. It
was like the whole town wanted me to do it, to be somebody, bring glory to
somebody too. It’s easy to get lost in all that.
to tell? Swear to God? I’d be mortified if anybody found out. It was over. I
wasn’t going anywhere. There was this little kid, a runner, eleven years old. I
read about her in Sports Illustrated. She won the national
championship—dusted the competition. The girl lived in the mountains. For
workouts, she ran hills with sandbags strapped to her shoulders. Of course her
lungs were developed. Duh. The other kids never had a chance. A year later,
the second place girl came in ten seconds behind her. By high school, she was
only average. That would have been me. Kids were catching up. Forget the
Olympics. I’d have been lucky to get any playing time in college.
was only sixteen years-old, feeling like the best was already behind me.
I began to hate soccer. No, it’s not why I quit. But it was always at the back
of my head, you know? It’s how come I was always so frustrated. The end was
coming. Since I was six, I was always the best. It would have been humiliating
to watch the other girls pass me. Everybody roots for the underdog, because
they know what it’s like to always get beaten. You know what it’s like to only
ever have been at the top? Looking over your shoulder, waiting for people to
what to do with myself. I could fill time. I hung out with my friends. That’s
not what I mean. I mean, there was no structure. The days spread out ahead of
me, with nothing to organize them. Am I making sense? I had nothing to look
forward to, I guess. Suddenly I had no goal.
what I wanted. I’m still not entirely sure. I want to get married someday. I
know that. I want to have to kids. We’ve talked a few times, Todd and me, about
marriage. I doubt it would ever work out. I mean, I love him and all, but
parents can’t stand him. I don’t want to go through life like that, my parents
hating my guy. They’d end up hating me. Not that I’d ever let on.
them guessing. Haha.
to know how bad you want to please them. They’d just use it against you. We
can’t kowtow. We’ve got to hang tough. That’s the only way to ever get your
around the world, doing something fun. If I could learn to play guitar, I could
totally see myself in a band. All those cool outfits, too, right? Oh my
god, I can totally see it. I’ll be like the coolest rock singer ever.
They want something to be proud of? Ha! Just wait! Here I come.
That’s my long-term goal. I really want to be a good mom.
Tyler? She is the main character
in Terri Giuliano Long’s best-selling novel, In Leah’s Wake. Leah Tyler was an All-Star soccer player, the MVP of her
high school team, and a
Globe All-Scholastic Player of the Year. She’s 16 years old and lives in
with her parents and younger sister, Justine.
Twelve-year-old Justine observes Leah’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family. She desperately seeks her big sister’s approval and will do whatever it takes to obtain it. Meanwhile she is left to question whether her parents love her and whether God even knows she exists.
Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the novel In Leah’s Wake. Her life
outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys
walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American
heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an
international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and
is her debut novel.
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