Updates from Upperclassmen: We have the rest of our lives to be the hero

Published 8:00 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

Updates from Upperclassmen by Aiden Hartman

“Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings,” “300,” “Mission Impossible,” “David and Goliath,” and “Avengers Endgame”: At the climax of all these movies is the showdown, when the hero faces overwhelming odds, and finds a way to win. Instilled within all of us is a desire to see the hero win, to witness the victory against all odds, and that’s why we keep watching it, the same story replayed with new characters, hoping that someday we will be the hero, that we will have our chance to achieve greatness in the face of the impossible. We all have this hope, but it hurts when that hope is taken away.

Aiden Hartman

That same hope arose on the way there, the two-hour bus ride to our section soccer game. The conversations reflected the hopeful mood, as we each expressed our confidence in our chance for victory. We even compared our team to those teams in sports movies, when they get a new coach and lose all season, just to win the championship at the very end. We also had a new coach this season, had moved down a section (meaning we would play easier teams in the playoffs), and our only two wins were in our last four games. We were one step away from being the sports-movie team, and we all hoped we would finish the last step. It didn’t matter that we were the lower seed, that we hadn’t won a section game in four years, and that we had only won two games in the regular season — we hoped anyway. Each of our hearts was filled with excitement and anticipation because this was our chance.

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I imagine the hero feels the same way when it’s his chance: excited, nervous, hopeful and scared all at the same time. I wonder if the hero still feels the same way when he stares at the giant across the field, his face shining with sheer audacity that even the giant secretly admires. Then the hero draws his sword, screams something inspiring and charges into battle.

We didn’t exactly charge into battle for that game, and our cheer of “Tigers!” probably wasn’t that inspiring. The freezing wind and rain didn’t help the mood either, but we held the same confidence in our hearts, hoping it was our chance to be the hero. It wasn’t. Unlike the hero, we didn’t find a surprising and clever way to defeat the giant. We didn’t even manage a long, drawn out fight where the hero barely wins at the end. Instead, we were down 1-0 in the first five minutes. It was 5-0 by half. Each goal was like a slap in the face; it wasn’t the pain, but the shock that hurt. As the shock wore off, the hope returned, but it was smaller each time. Our whole season’s worth of hope was stolen in just 40 minutes, ripped from our hands, piece by piece, until every last bit was gone. The next 40 minutes I was numb, not just because of the freezing rain. I couldn’t believe my last soccer season was going to be over.

In previous years, losing our section game was not as shocking, and the pain was softened by the knowledge that there was always next year. We always dreamed about winning, of course, but this year was different: We really hoped we were going to be the hero. And that hope, that desperate, unrealistic hope, hurts the most when it is taken away, the pain multiplied by the knowledge that there is no next year; this was your last chance, and it’s over.

But we were better because of that hope, everyone is. It is that hope which fuels the hero and lets him overcome the impossible. It is that hope which allows us to dream of what could happen, instead of being limited to what will probably happen. When you walk off the field and realize you will never walk back on, it hurts, but life is more than sports. No one made a movie about my senior soccer team, but we have the rest of our lives to be hopeful about, so dream big and go be a hero.

Aiden Hartman is a senior at Albert Lea High School.