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The First Stabilizing Breath

by Rylan Epstein, Abington Heights High School Sophomore

What is a sport? Is it a singular battle within oneself, dedicated solely to an individual victory? Or is it a team effort? A fight in which we all partake, working as smaller parts in the bigger picture. Or could it possibly be something more? With each swing of the stick, each rattling connection to the ball, each follow through; muscles acting upon memory, utilizing familiarity to encourage growth.
Sophomore Rylan Epstein playing in a game for Abington Heights High SchoolGrowth found in perception. While a sport can be perceived in many different ways, for most it is an escape, an outlet from the stressors of everyday life, an essential component to how one functions with each passing day. Physical exertion carries with it an element of tranquility and peace.

Peace starts with the first stabilizing breath. Moments before the whistle shrieks, moments before players - still as statues - launch themselves into the fray of the game. In those first few moments, there is only the ringing in your ears, the quickening heartbeat, bated breath preparing for action.

Action is enacted; a whistle signals beginning, and time begins to race. Each position is now utilized; each player is used for a common goal. Each muscle moves in fluidity, guiding the arm through the arch of the game. As you race towards the activity, your eyes lock on the ball. Anticipation hangs thick in the air. Cleats claw into the green, tearing up dirt and grass. Dodging the defensive line, beads of sweat cling to your temples. Twisting, turning, snaking towards the goal.

Goal before you, adversaries behind. Your state of mind feels only adrenaline, coursing through you with each yard. Tunnel vision. Closer now, you approach the final hurdle, cross the line, aim precise. They stand before you, eyes locked, moving towards the ball. Peace is achieved with the final stabilizing breath. Stick is swung, a rattling connection. Solid plastic batters wood. Digging in your heels.

Healing begins as auditory senses reawaken. A raucous crowd; an elated team. Sighs of loss can be heard from the other side. Though next match, the tables may turn, the impression still stands. This sport still lives as an escape, an outlet from the stressors of everyday life, an essential component to how one functions with each passing day. Physical exertion carries with it an element of tranquility and peace, and peace starts with the first stabilizing breath.

*Disclaimer: USA Field Hockey does not promote or encourage the usage of protective eyewear in the sport of field hockey or at any held National Events
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