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Being Number One

By Vice President - John Hoagland, 04/19/10, 10:41AM CDT


Have you ever dreamed of being #1? That is the jersey specially reserved for what many call the most important player on a soccer field – the goalkeeper.

This is a story about the largely unsung and one of the toughest jobs in all of sports, physically and mentally.  You might find similar tales in life about those courageous and honorable souls who step up daily into the line of fire.  Secret Service agents come to mind of course, and lacrosse or hockey might offer you some similarity, but this speaks to something else.  This is the story of being number one.

Have you ever dreamed of being #1?  That is the jersey specially reserved for what many call the most important player on a soccer field – the goalkeeper.  Blessed with good eyes and hands, an insatiable desire to compete and gather experiences of those opposing warriors who strive to “shoot” at them, the goalkeeper is a leader on a soccer team with a lightning fast mind, fueled with instinct and the learnings of those who came before them; training that almost unconsciously adjusts their position in the box during an attack.  While we’re speaking of blessings, let’s also add a good bit of luck to the mix that matches the hard work and preparation of the ‘keeper’ and his or her entire team.

Honing their craft of ball control, speedy forwards and attacking strikers, clever mid-fielders and the reliable and powerful defending backs which patrol the rear are all critical to the team, but when it all comes down to game time, who will fill the space between the white posts? 

“The Human Wall”, as Brad Friedel, current goalkeeper for the English Premier League’s Aston Villa FC in Birmingham, England and one of the most famous U.S. born and bred soccer players, is known to his passionate English fans.  Brad grew up in the Midwest and played other sports (basketball and tennis) like most young kids.  From there he moved from forward to goal on his youth soccer team and eventually found multiple places in history playing goalkeeper for the UCLA Bruins’ 1990 NCAA National Championship as a freshman, representing the United States in three FIFA World Cups, playing for several professional teams in the U.K. and U.S. and can be globally recognized in the sport of fútbol,  football or soccer, whichever you prefer, as being one of the best ever to wear number one.  Maybe Wilmette, Illinois will be home to the next “Human Wall”?

We are always looking for good kids who want a chance to play goalkeeper, but club soccer and the goalkeeping role is not for everyone.  With that, maybe you have what it takes to perhaps one day be adorned with the single digit jersey … One.  If you think you do or even if you are just a little curious about what it takes, contact our coaches at Wilmette Wings Soccer Club – it could be your first step toward someday being named Number One.


Suggested Reading - If you would like to learn more about the Goalkeeper position there is a great childrens book Goalkeeper in Charge by Matt Christopher