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Growing into the Sport
|It was Spring Break. Derek had come to Florida with the rest of the lacrosse team on their annual trip. It was for things like this that he loved college... partying until he dropped, the sun, and the absolute freedom.
He hadn't felt that way at first. Derek had been a bit wary about signing up. After all, he was only a freshman. On top of that, it was his first year playing lacrosse. Everyone else on the team had been playing for years before they even got to college. Everything came naturally to them. Derek had to work at it. A lot. He probably put in more hours at the track, gym, and wall, than anyone else on the team. But what could he do? Only experience would make him a better player. Or so he had thought in September.
Then they had started practice and he met the team. They were huge!! Everyone had at least 30 pounds more than he did, many were taller, and everyone was faster. He had thought that coming to a generally non-athletic school would make him even. Well, it didn't. Derek just messed about the first few practices, then the coach had started to teach him from the basics on up. Eventually the other team members caught on to him being a newbie, and they started to help him out. He became sort of like their project in progress.
"Don't worry," the coach had said, "You'll get it. Just keep practicing." And he did. And it did get better. By the end of the first semester he was actually playing decently. Not great, but decently. On top of that, he actually made some really good friends on the team.
So here he was in Florida on Spring Break getting drunk with the rest of the team. Good times.
Later on that day, after some of the partying had died down, he was talking with Pete, one of the midfielders and the captain. Derek and Pete got along really well, even though you would never have been able to say that a year ago. They were very different. Right now, though, all was well, and they were sobering up before going to sleep.
"Do you think you'll be getting in on any of the game tomorrow?" Pete asked.
"I don't know," replied Derek, "It depends on coach."
"Heh... I think you'll do fine," Pete said, "You've made a lot of improvement these past few months. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks, Pete," said Derek, "It's awesome being able to play. You know, when I first started to play I knew that I would either have to be faster or bigger than the other guys. I'm not either, so I guess I've just done the best I can."
Pete paused to watch a girl walk by on the beach. "Don't worry, dude. We weren't all always this big. Just work out and run over summer and I bet you'll catch up quick."
Derek suddenly felt a wave of naseau and ran to the bathroom. It faded when he got there. He took a drink of water and looked himself in the mirror.
Derek was about 6 feet tall, skinny, and dirty blonde. He was a hardgainer to boot, which made him incredibly doubtful that he would ever be as big as anyone on the team, including Pete. They all had just rippling muscle and hard abs that he constantly envied. He looked at his own abs. No way would this scrawny frame be that large, at least not for years.
No matter. Life went on and he had a game in the morning. Derek went to sleep praying for the best, as he did before any game or practice. He had to prove himself, he felt. This was still near the beginning of the season. If he did well tomorrow, he would see more field time for the rest of the games, which is always good.
Early on the next morning - by college standards - the team boarded the bus and drove out to the place they were playing. They went straight to the locker room to change.
When Derek opened his bag, he felt a surge of desperation. His pads weren't there. "SHIT!" he yelled. They were being aired out at the hotel and he had forgotten to pack them in the morning. "Does anyone have any extra pads?" he asked, a little embarrased.
Pete to the rescue. "Sure dude. Wouldn't be without 'em." He toseed some old pads to Derek, who put them on.
"Um, Pete?" he asked, "These are a bit big."
"No worries, man," said Pete, "They're much better than nothing. You know, those are my first pads. They're a bit special to me. So take care of them."
"Alright," answered Derek, a bit confused as to what he meant and what he was going to do, "Thanks. I appreciate it."
"Not a problem. Now come on! Let's go!"
The first half passed, and Derek spent the entire time trying to get comfortable in Pete's oversized pads on the sidelines. They were losing pretty badly. For some reason, his team couldn't seem to catch any of the balls. The other team was scooping up all their misses and firing them quickly past the goalie. Finally, the coach figured it was as good a time as any to put Derek in. It couldn't get any worse, right? At least, that was what Derek hoped.
The ball was put into play, and the face-off sent the ball straight to Derek. He saw his chance and grabbed it, running up the side of the field. Another player checked him, but not before he had had a chance to get it into the other team's box. One of Derek's teammates picked up the dropped ball and scored a point. "That's it, dude!" came the yell from the sidelines, "Keep it up Derek!"
He felt good. That was the best play that he had ever made. Derek started focusing on the game more than he had ever been able to before. The pads didn't even bother him, in fact, they were kind of comfortable. Being an attackman, the coach left him in.This time, the otehr team got the ball and started trying to run down the field. THey were repulsed and forced to back up. Derek saw his chance and ran as fast as he could towards the other player. "Take middie! Switch with Anton!" Derek's coach yelled at him. Wow! This was a serious change! He took advantage of it and willed himself to chase the other player. He ran faster than ever before, and his pads started to chafe. He reached the player, who he had sworn was taller than him, and gave him a check that sent him sprawling. A cheer went up from the crowd. Feeling pumped from the adrenaline, Derek grabbed the ball and ran the other direction. Two other players challenged him, and he barreled right through them. This felt great.
When he reached the other team's box, a squeezing hit him in his chest, so he passed the ball off to another middie, who scored quickly.
The score gap continued to be reduced, and finally Derek's team was up. Not only that, the other team, exasperated, had committed some penalties, and so Derek's team was man up. Coach took him out for a while, and Derek used the opportunity to loosen his pads and helmet, adjust his jock, and get a rest. His uniform was unusually tight on him. Maybe it had shrunk in the wash?
The game ended as a surprise victory for Derek's team. Derek was incredibly proud of himself and jubilant. He felt as though he were standing 6 inches taller and could take on the world. In the locker room, Derek gave Pete back his pads. "Thanks, dude. Turns out they were actually too small. Maybe I was drunk," he said tossing them across the room, "I think they brought me good luck."
"No," Pete said, "They brought you more than luck. Look at yourself when you get a chance." Derek was confused, but went into the bathroom. He stopped when he saw himself in the mirror.
"Woah!" he exclaimed. He WAS 6 inches taller, and he was definitely larger. This was awesome!
Pete came in. "I found these pads in sophmore year of high school, and they changed my life. I figured that you could use the same boost."
"Wow. I really appreciate it. Thanks dude!" Derek answered. It was almost too much. But then his newly enlarged buddy downtown thought of the things he could do with his new body. "Let's go hit the beach and look for some chicks, shall we?"
"Now you're thinking like a lacrosse player," Pete replied, "Let's go." The season was only just beginning, but it was off to a bang, as far as Derek was concerned.
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