THE LAST: The Girl Called #11: Rookie
HANNA TOOK a deep breath. She stood outside her parents’ door. She heard her mother talking to someone on the phone. She waited till there was a long silence, and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” was the answer.
Hanna walked into the room, only to see her mother, still on the phone, sitting on her bed. Mrs. Anderson held her finger meaning be silent, I’ll be off soon. Soon, Mrs. Anderson got off the phone.
“Who was that?” Hanna asked.
“It was you coach,” said Mrs. Anderson.
“Oh..” Hanna quietly said. Mrs. Anderson laid her head on her pillow.
“Is something wrong, Han?” she asked. Hanna sighed.
“Okay, I’ve kept a small secret from you and Dad,” Hanna started. A deep breath filled her lungs, then exhaled. “My final game is actually on the 17th, the same day as the Family Reunion. I’ve prayed and talked to some of my friends and I think I know what I should do.”
Mrs. Anderson looked up and sat cross-legged on the bed.
“I’m going to go to the Family Reunion.” Mrs. Anderson’s expression seemed to never move but when she hugged her daughter, Hanna realized she made the right choice.
“I’m glad you’ve decided to come to the Family Reunion but there’s the twist: our family activity is to go to your game!” Mrs. Anderson exclaimed. Hanna looked speechless. How did her mom know?
“But—but how did you know?” she asked.
Her mom laughed. “Easy. First, your coach, Mr. Roberts, called to see if I would bring brownies to the last game. When he mentioned that it was going to be the 17th, I realized what had happened and it took me a moment to decide what to do. So, I came up with another plan. Except for our family doing our things, we are all going to participate in cheering for you in your finale game. Huh? Is that fine with you?”
Hanna was so overwhelmed with the news that she almost burst into tears. She hugged her mom and thanked God for working things out.
~* * *~
Everyone came for the Reunion: uncles, aunts, cousin, in-laws, grandpas, grandmas, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, adults, tweens; everyone came from the Anderson family to Robinson Park. They all wore sweaters that said:
We ARE HERE 4 #11!
When Hanna saw them, she was both embarrassed and proud—okay, more embarrassed than proud. The team realized that their teammate probably would not have been able to participate so they were very happy that Hanna could be with them. But that didn’t last long when Mr. Roberts took them aside and gave them a big and long speech about being strong and not giving up. The girls would have rather gone thrift shopping than listen to Mr. Roberts. Finally he gave them a good shove and sent some of them out to the field. The rest stood back to get ready, in case Mr. Roberts would call them out.
Hanna breathed through her nose and out of her mouth. Kari sat on the benches. Nicky stood on the field, her cleats dug into the grass. At least eighty people were there, one-hundred and sixty pairs of eyes watched them and Hanna could feel the tension. When the National Anthem started to play, it seemed that all hearing was lost in Hanna’s mind. She looked at Nicky, who stood straight, eyes perfectly fixed on the singer.
Hanna looked at her family and saw that Kayla waved at her; she was about to wave back when she saw Cory. He stood by Tony, who gave a thumbs up, and smiled at her. Hanna beamed with happiness. She would play her very best and— Oh no! The game was starting and the other team was going to the goal. Oh no! she thought, I’ll be too late. She watched as the other team made their way toward the goal. She ran as fast as she could, but her mind was on not messing up rather than doing her best. In a matter of minutes the team had scored. The visitor’s people cheered.
Kari ran to Hanna. “What was that all about?” she asked. “We needed you out there.”
Hanna moaned, “I know, but I—I don’t know, I sometime get distracted.”
“Well you better snap out of it before Mr. Roberts has to talk to you,” Nicky said as the referee blew the whistle. Once again the game started, this time Hanna was ready. She sped down the field, huffing and puffing. As she ran caught sight of one of players on the field with the ball. She saw the girl give her teammate a sort of signal: a . Hanna didn’t think of it at first, but when she saw that the other player,#28, retrieve the ball from #14 after she gave the signal, #28 scored another goal, making the score 2—0.
The next time, Hanna was fully ready, she ran by another one of the players named #20. This player made a clicking noise with her tongue. #13 came up from behind Hanna and tripped her, making her fall and letting #20 pass it to her. Before the team could score another goal, Mr. Roberts was yelling at the referee.
“Hey! Number 13 from Redstone just tripped my #11!” he shouted.
Hanna tried to get up but it seemed she couldn’t. What if she sprained her ankle? This couldn’t be the way her last game would end!
“Hanna,” said Laila Jakes. “Can you stand?”
The girl tried but failed. Laila and Nicky both helped her up and made her sit down on the bench. Nicky had come from the bathroom and looked shocked. “What happened?” she asked. Hanna winced. “I tripped and probably sprained my ankle.”
Nicky gasped. “But if you can’t play then you probably won’t be Rookie of the Year.” Yah think? Hanna thought to herself.
“Anyway,” Hanna said, “the real problem is that right now I could be sitting at a park table watching my little cousins climb trees but instead, I’m sitting here letting my team down.”
The two girls just sat as the game continued. Hanna sat on the hard, wooden bench. She wished she had some ice for her foot and when a shadow hovered over she wished it was Mr. Roberts with a bag of ice. Instead she saw it was her mom, dad and Tony. Mrs. Anderson was talking to Mr. Roberts about letting her play or her keeping her out of the game altogether. As Mrs. Anderson and Mr. Roberts talked, Tony sat beside Hanna.
“You okay?” he asked. Hanna sighed.
“Not really,” Hanna answered. Tony shook his head. “Sorry you won’t be able to play.”
As Hanna sighed, a hot tear fell down her face, down her cheek and to her chin. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I was sure God wanted me to play. Now I’m going to let, not only my team but my family down.”
Hanna picked up her head. Tony was looking at Kari. “Hey, why doesn’t the coach let Kari play?” He said. Hanna’s eyes suddenly opened. Kari! She hadn’t played the whole season, except for one game, and that was so she could be a diversion. She had never scored a goal.
“Oh man!” Hanna exclaimed. “I gotta’ tell Coach.”
“I’ll tell the coach,” Darren interrupted, walking over to Mr. Roberts. “Mr. Roberts,” he said,
“I’ve realized that number 17 is still sitting. I bet she’d love to play. Why not send her out?”
Mr. Roberts turned and gave him a hard stare. “Wait a sec, aren’t that scrawny kid who gives water for the basketball team.”
Tony nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
“Then what’s it to you—”
“B—Because Number 11 is my friend,” Tony said seriously. “She says you should put 17 in the game for her.” He softened a little. “It would really help Hanna and Kari.”
Mr. Roberts, turned and faced the wall. He shook his head, but answered, “Alll riiight! Fine! She can play. We’re gonna lose anyway.”
Tony smiled. “Thanks Mr. Roberts.”
Mr. Roberts walked over to Kari. “25! You’re on the field. Move!” It seemed as if Kari was a rainbow, leaping out after heavy rain. She threw her penny on the ground and ran out before the coach could say anything.
As the game continued, Hanna started to pray.
“Dear Jesus, please don’t make me make the wrong mistake. Help Kari to focus on the game.”
Kari sped up to #28, stole the ball and passed it to Nicky. She in turn passed it to Rachel Blake, who dodged several players and scored. The crowd roared. Hanna clapped. It was working. The next time, Nicky and Karri were like mirrors, confusing the other players while finally passing it to another teammate and making another goal.
The score was now 2—2 and there were only a few seconds left. Twenty, to be exact. Mrs. Anderson had come down from the bleachers during half-time. “Foot’s better?”
“Think you can play?”
Hanna thought about it. “Well… I guess. You think I can play?”
“Maybe. And if you fall, just remember that you tried.”
Hanna nodded. “Coach!” she yelled. “I think I can play.”
Mr. Roberts walked nervously to the her. “Y-Y-You sure?” He said. He’s probably scared that
I’ll blow it, Hanna thought. I’ll show him. “Uh-huh. And if I fall, at least I tried.”
Mr. Roberts, looked around nervously, then looked straight at Hanna. “Okay. But listen here, Anderson. If your face even touches a millimeter of the fake grass out there, this team is doomed. Got it.”
“Hey!” Mr. Roberts cried, pointing at one of the girls. “#12, come in. 11’s taking your place.”
Number 12 jogged from the field and Hanna took her place. She looked at the clock/score.
Again, everything slowed.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock
The referee threw the ball in the air. Suddenly, Hanna’s head connected with the ball. The round ball went flying in the air. Feet were running. Arms were pumping. People were cheering. Hanna sweat hits the floor. She moved around people who try to do the same.
Her eyes were on the goal, hoping something will take away the goalie’s attention. Then, Hanna’s foot ignited with something else. Oh no! She wondered, I tripped over someone’s foot! We’re doomed! Doooomed! Hanna’s face went more than a millimeter to the ground. She basically ate it.
She laid there, not wanting to get up, scared that if she did get up, her parents will see her and realize that she had failed. Feet stumbled over her, and there were cries all around her. Suddenly she realized something.
They are cries of joy!
Hanna lifted her head from the ground and saw her teammates jumping up and down,
yelling. Mr. Roberts welcomed his own daughter, Jennifer Roberts, in his arms.
Nicky grabbed Hanna’s hand and pulled her on her feet. “Get up!” she said with a big grin on her face. “You did it! You made the last goal. We won! We won!”
Hanna’s mouth was still open as a door and then turned into a wide smile. Her family raced onto the field. Hanna could feel herself flying over her teammates, her family and her friends.
It seemed that really God did answer the prayer.
~* * *~
The next day, Hanna bumped into Cory. He wore a smirky grin.
Cory smiled a little more. “In the paper today it said that Mr. Roberts announced that you are the Rookie of the Year!”
Hanna could barely breathe.
“W—W—What?! Are you serious?”
Without even thinking, Hanna snatched the paper from Calvin’s hand. On it was her picture that her dad had taken once when she was playing. It seemed that the Shepherd’s Journal really wanted others to know about the whole game. On it said:
THE SHEPHERD'S JOURNAL
Issue MVID Volume 14
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
By: Angela Williams.
The first ever girls soccer team wins the trophy this year! They have also named their Rookie of the Year to be Hanna Anderson for her competitive spirit and soft heart. “She’s an awesome friend,” said Nicky Vasquez. “I wish I could be like her.”
“She’s really nice and sweet” said Cory Bruce, captain of the William Rhodes’s Wolves, after the game. “And she has a kind heart.” Many others have said nice things about this player in our school. “We are very proud to have her in our school,” Principal Marvin said at a parents meeting.
She couldn’t believe what she saw. As soon as she saw what Cory said, she gave him the biggest hug she could. When she realized what had happened she quickly let go but couldn’t. Then she realized that he had hugged her too.