For as long as I can remember, fall, above the rest, has seemed to be a season of transitions. As the youngest in my family, I felt the summer to September adjustment long before pre-school. Soon enough it was my turn, and the next 18 falls meant back to school for me, too.
This year, for the first time since 1996, I am not part of the anticipatory back-to-school flurry. After graduating from college in May, I immediately moved to D.C. for a fast-paced few months of interning and travel. It wasn’t until the end of August that I realized there was no class schedule waiting for me on the other side of summer.
Instead, I’m beginning a different sort of adventure. I started as the Foundation’s Marketing & Communications Fellow around the same time that many D.C. schools kicked off their year. Walking to work one morning during my first week, the neighborhood buzzed with first-day-of-school adrenaline, and I saw I wasn’t the only one in transition.
Outside an elementary school, a group of kids kicked a soccer ball back and forth, killing time before the first bell. Maybe they were best friends, or maybe they’d just met, but it didn’t matter because any first-day butterflies flew further away with every kick. Watching them, I realized that although this fall is a new start, there’s something familiar about it: this isn’t the first time soccer has been a familiar face through a time of change.
Most people who know me are surprised to learn that I’m working in sports. I can’t say that soccer has been a constant in my life, but it’s certainly been no stranger. From kindergarten through middle school, fall meant the start of soccer season. I don’t remember being particularly good, and I don’t remember winning very often, but I do remember carpools and Capri Suns, tournaments and icebreakers, and hiding out in Coach’s car with my friends during a spontaneous hailstorm; I remember being part of a team. Soccer was how I spent my Saturdays and how I made friends. It made the transitions easier. It made fall more fun.
In middle school, shortly after I stopped playing, my family moved to Germany. I was in Berlin when Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup, and I was there in 2010 when they placed third. It’s fitting that four years later, just after Germany’s fourth World Cup victory, I find soccer once again in the forefront of my life. Once again, I am part of a team, and I couldn’t be more grateful.