The author, middle, after heading the ball up field during his high school days. Photo courtesy of Ed Nystrom

The author, middle, after heading the ball up field during his high school days. Photo courtesy of Ed Nystrom

Enjoying the World Cup and being a life-long soccer fan | Column

I’ve always been fascinated with soccer and writing.

In my early years playing on the soccer field, I even combined two of the key facets of my life. Following my games as a youngster in Redondo Beach, California, I’d sit with my dad and write game reports for our AYSO weekly magazine, The Dribble.

Dad came up with one of the most brilliant descriptions of a goal scorer ever, noting that my pal’s “electric headband” gave him the strength to put us ahead just moments into the second half. I’m still trying to outdo that one.

So, with the World Cup on the docket for the next month or so, I was inspired to relive some of my favorite soccer moments and journeys during my lifetime. Hopefully, when the Cup final rolls around, mine and my wife’s beloved Germany will be there — and triumph again.

As always, I was stoked to cover our talented local prep soccer teams this season. Whenever I’m out at the fields and watching the action, I’ll put myself in their shoes and imagine what I’d do when one of their passes came my way and how I’d make my maneuver and crack the ball into the back of the net.

I scored a few nice goals during my playing days: a hat trick in my grade-school years; a leaning shot with the goalkeeper closing in, and we then nearly collided and fell to the pitch as I scored; a head shot off a corner kick that lasered into the net as my head smacked with a defender; and then a goal off a nice lead pass that was the game-winner in an all-star game (I don’t remember anything about how the ball got past the keeper, I just knew that everyone was hugging me).

I played soccer during high school as well, but was probably a better writer than forward during those days. The competition got stiffer later on, but I did what I could to help the team find success.

A crucial lesson I learned during my high school years was that if I wasn’t in the starting lineup and even playing that many minutes — or any at all — I had to be a solid supporter for my teammates on the pitch. That’s an important part of the sports scene and spills over into the real world. Always try and lift up others and do your part in any way you’re called upon to do so.

And I always got excited when it was World Cup time. One of my favorite announcers, Welshman Toby Charles, had a way with words and made the game come to life for us. “He takes a second bite of the cherry!” he yelled when one player scored off a rebound of his initial shot.

I used to spend one hour on Saturday afternoons watching Soccer Made in Germany, highlights from top-notch Bundesliga matches on a UHF channel. I even received The Globe Kicker magazine each Friday afternoon in the mail to gear up for the matches.

Charles sported soccer knowledge and humor that no one could match. No one could pronounce Borussia Monchengladbach like Charles … and my wife and I reached the promised land of the Monchengladbach stadium for a match in April 2013. It was bliss — not just the match, but interacting with the locals and finding a stellar soccer bar in town and later The FanHaus pub and gathering spot just outside the stadium.

Twenty years earlier, we were part of a raucous crowd at Wembley Stadium in London during an Arsenal vs. Sheffield Wednesday FA Cup Final replay. Although we had been soccer fans forever, we became Arsenal FC supporters that evening during the Gunners’ 2-1 overtime victory.

We supported the San Jose Clash early on in MLS action and I’ve followed the Seattle Sounders since the NASL Kingdome days.

As for the World Cup, we attended several matches in the Bay Area in 1994 and can’t wait for the Cup to return to the United States (along with Mexico and Canada) in 2026. During those Cup matches 24 years ago at Stanford University, there was nothing like walking through the tunnel and seeing the players warming up on the well-groomed pitch. Once the ball was kicked into play, it was heaven for the next 90 minutes or so.

Enjoy the Cup, readers.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Redmond Relays set for March 21

The third annual Redmond High School Track and Field Booster Club Redmond… Continue reading

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading

Hardwood Classic tips off after coronavirus outbreak

By Benjamin Olson and Andy Nystrom Basketball players took to the court… Continue reading

Reporter file photo
No changes to state basketball tournament schedules after coronavirus outbreak

State boys and girls basketball Hardwood Classic tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and… Continue reading

Most school events, including sports practices, on schedule after coronavirus outbreak

All the school districts in the Reporter’s coverage areas — Northshore, Lake… Continue reading

Pluschke hits the diamond as new Redmond High fastpitch coach

Mustangs return seven starters from last season.