Every school night at 10 o’clock I head down to Old Gill (the original gym) to play some pickup indoor soccer. Often this is my favorite part of the day, when I can finally relax, let loose, and kick some balls! Sometimes only ten people show up; we play anyway. Sometimes 25 people show up, all to play in a small gym; we play anyway. Every night. 10 PM. We show up, we play for an hour, and then the gym closes for the night. If the gym stayed open longer, I have no doubt that we would also stay longer, late into the night.
A huge variety of people come to play each night. We have freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. We have Alpha Sigs, Phi Kapps, and Phi Delts. We have boys who spent three years playing on the McDaniel’s varsity team, and we have girls who haven’t touched a soccer ball since they were 9 years old. The beauty of our nightly soccer games is that anyone can play, with any level of skill, and still have fun. For some, the benefit of playing with experienced players is huge: they pick up tips on how to position their feet on defense, how to best turn with the ball, and how to know when to make a run to the corner and when to make a run to the middle. For others, just getting some familiarity with soccer is helpful; the more times you touch a ball, the better you will be at controlling the ball. And for the ones who have played competitive soccer, nightly soccer offers a chance to try out new moves, teach others, have some fun, and of course show off.
After the gym closes, many of us head to the Pub for a midnight meal. It is a chance to chat about the game, to recap the best moves, but also a great way to become closer friends to the people you play with every night. Last year, when I first started to play nightly soccer, I made it a habit to go to the Pub with the kids that I most frequently saw at nightly soccer. It was a group of freshman (gasp! he hung out with freshman!) that were very dedicated to evening soccer: some nights, especially near the end of the semester, it was just them and me that showed up; we played anyway, and then we “Pubbed.” Today, that same group of kids are some of my closest friends at school. And we still play soccer every night at 10 PM.