You may not know it’s a thing at Loyola… but it is. I’m proud to say it’s a full-fledged club with all the bells and whistles.
But when I started showing up to play as a first-year student, it was just a group of guys who really enjoyed playing soccer, who would stay at the FAC until it closed.
Pickup Soccer began had started the year before I came to Loyola. A few passionate guys were getting together a couple of nights a week to play soccer on the indoor court at the FAC. It was informal, but competitive and fun.
They eventually created a Facebook group to help organize times and communicate. The numbers were low, but the competition was high. The group had some key figures and it was mainly comprised of club soccer players, male and female, and former high school soccer players who were missing the game in college.
When I came to Loyola, I joined club soccer and intramural soccer before I could figure out how to do laundry. After four years of competitive soccer in high school, I had to keep up with it as much as I could. When winter came around my first year, there weren’t many outlets to play soccer, and I was still trying to meet people, make new friends, and find an outlet for my inner athlete.
Then a good friend of mine (same class year and a fellow soccer player) invited me to come to the FAC one night in January. He said there was a group of sophomore and junior guys who regularly get together to play soccer informally for a couple hours.
Even though I played in an all-men’s league in high school, I’ll admit I was nervous about going…
If they did welcome me, would I even be good enough?
In the end, I decided to go—and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at Loyola.
The first couple months were tough. I wouldn’t go if I didn’t know at least one friend would also be playing. I wasn’t very talkative. I tried to make the least mistakes as possible. I was usually picked last for teams and I always offered to sub first.
I was nervous. And then one night I realized all of the reasons I was nervous were in my head.
The guys in the group welcomed me. They constantly gave me advice on my play and encouraged me to not play so nervously. Soon enough, I started feeling confident. I started playing as I used to, and with it, I gained the respect of the other players. Sure, I got bumped and bruised quite often. Someone I consider a good friend today first talked to me after he flipped me upside down during a collision. He said, with a cheeky smile, “You know that was your fault,” and I tried to smile with no air in my lungs. After that we became friends and still joke about it today.
By my sophomore year, I felt confident as one of the regulars, and I started posting in our Facebook group. Pickup Soccer was gaining quite a following and more females joined our squad. We went from eight or nine people to a record 30 people one night.
Pickup Soccer officially became a club my sophomore year, giving us a fighting chance to schedule time on the indoor court (which is more difficult than you might expect because it’s a popular place for a number of clubs!).
In short, here’s what you might not know about Pickup Soccer: You’ll get more than a couple hours of play from your participation..
You’ll also find…
- A sense of community;
- A way to build confidence;
- A place to make friendships with people with whom you share something in common;
- A time to relax from a stressful day of class or work;
- A fun way to stay in shape and get your heart pumping;
- An opportunity to find something new about yourself as a Greyhound.
From that first winter at Loyola, I’ve considered Pickup Soccer as more than practice for my fall and spring soccer commitments. It has evolved to a social time. Every night I show up, I get to hang out with some great people. I made a whole new group of friends and found a new place for myself at Loyola.