Empathy in Soccer


A little bit of background: I have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember. My dad played, his dad played, and therefore I obviously played as well. Soccer became a huge bonding opportunity for me and my dad. I remember countless weekend waking up early with my dad to travel all across California playing club soccer fro Attack Soccer Club, and I definitely remember having my dad in the stands at every high school game as well for Canyon Crest Academy. He was there for every highlight, every disappointment, and all the in betweens.

Disappointment: As with any competitive sport, there of plenty of disappointments on both a team and on a personal level. Luckily however I was able to have my dad by my side to support me through it all. The most disappointing time in my soccer career came in my last game of club soccer. I was plagued by knee and ankle issues throughout most of high school soccer, but the most devastating blow came just before my senior season.

The Moment: It was the week before the first game of my senior high school season. This was supposed to be my time to shine. I was told I would be leading the team up front playing forward and I could not have been more excited. I was playing the best soccer of my life in club soccer – which led up to high school soccer – and I felt like I was able to compete with anyone. Than it happened. Just before halftime in that last club game, I went in for a tackle. The opposing player completely missed the ball and stomped on my ankle. I was instantly put into agony and taken to the emergency room. After bringing down the pain, cutting off my socks and cleats due to the swelling, and undergoing multiple tests, I was given devastating news. I had essentially torn all the stabilizing ligaments and tendons on the outside of my ankle, as well as damaging the bones and my achilles tendon. I knew my high school season would at minimum be delayed if not completely ended.

The Aftermath: I was advised not to play for the rest of the season, but eventually did anyways because it was my last season and I was simply too eager to be sitting on the bench. It wasn’t the same however. I had fallen out of shape, my ankle wasn’t even at 50%, and I just did not feel the way I did before the injury. This devastated me. On top of the injury, my coach began to completely disregard me for some reason. This was extremely hard for me to deal with, but luckily my dad was there to help me.


Empathy: Because my dad had been in similar situations when he was younger, and because he was obviously closer with me than anyone, he was able to help me through this like no-one else would’ve been able to. His empathy and advice was invaluable, and I really cannot imagine senior soccer without it. He was able to show me that everyone is faced with adversity, and that its how you deal with it and react that matters. It showed me that I wasn’t the only one that had gone through situations like this, and that people really do empathize with you if they’ve been through something similar. At the time this meant the world to me.


2 thoughts on “Empathy in Soccer

  1. Josh,
    I’ve had similar experiences as my dad was very influential in my baseball career. Fortunately, I did not have to go through a devastating injury like yourself, but my dad was always there for me through the ups and downs. I have, however, seen teammates of mine get through tough injuries, and I know it is definitely a struggle. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Josh,
    I think that it is awesome that you and your dad have a relationship like that. Sports for me too, has brought me and my father very close together. Ever since I started playing hockey, my dad was there on the sidelines, able to help me through the hard times, and push me when I needed it. My dad played sports as well, and it helped me a lot having his advice knowing that he had been in almost every situation that I had been in, and always knew the next step.

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