Chapter 10 - Woman Up
“’Cause you’re more than good enough / You gotta woman up, woman up / All my girls, we show, we groove / Just make them remember you / This one for all my girls / My girls who woman up, woman up” – Woman Up, Meghan Trainor
“She was the best player at West Side Academy.” Henrietta says, “There’s no way Mr. Sprout is going to keep her off the team.”
“She just thinks she can come to this school, with her expensive clothes and pretty face, and just take over!” Isabella yells. “I’m not losing top player in my last year to some Grade 11 who just came here like, what, two months ago? She shouldn’t even be allowed to play! She just transferred here!”
“But with Arya on the team, we would win the championship easily,” Henrietta replies.
“We can win without her.” Isabella says, “Our only competition has ever been West Side, and now that they don’t have her on the team, we can easily beat them.”
“But they beat us last year when she was a junior,” Henrietta says.
“Yeah, because they got Arya to sub in for the final,” Isabella says irritably.
“Either way,” Henrietta says, “She should be on the team, we should have the best team possible and we need Arya on the team for that. And as team captain, you should want what’s best for the team.”
“Are you saying I’m not a good team captain?” Isabella asks.
“You are a great team captain,” Henrietta starts, “But you can’t just think of yourself, you need to think of the whole team and what’s best for all of us.”
Isabella slams her locker in frustration. “You think that know it all West Sider is what’s best for us?”
“With regards to soccer skills,” Henrietta says, “yes.”
“She’s just so goddamn annoying!” Isabella says.
“Why do you dislike her so much?” Henrietta asks.
“I just know her type and I don’t like her,” Isabella says.
“You don’t even know her!” Henrietta says.
“She’s just another rich kid from that stupid preppy school that thinks they are better than the rest of us,” Isabella says. But Henrietta can hear the words that Isabella is not saying. That this new girl is a really good soccer player and Isabella is scared of losing the spotlight. It probably doesn’t help that she’s super pretty either. Henrietta knows that Isabella has been irritated by the guys in our grade making comments about the new girl. “And she should go back there. There’s no reason for her to transfer here when she’s already in Grade 11.”
“Ready?” Eleanor says in the changeroom, fully dressed for our second and last soccer tryout. By the time you’re a senior, it’s generally the same players as it was on the junior teams. There’s almost no point in tryouts at this point, any girl that maybe wanted to try out now has been scared away by not making the team in their junior years. Who wants to put themselves through that humiliation again? Especially since the girls that have already played and have always made the team aren’t going to be thrilled about you trying out. Why? Because to them if you weren’t good enough to make the team last year, you’re not good enough this year, and you would just bring the team down.
However, some people still try out because other than the super popular kids, the athletes always seem to dominate the school. No one else matters in comparison, and it’s not like the teachers or coaches help with that stigma. They favour and joke around with the athletes and will make others feel insignificant without even realizing it. I hate it.
High school is pretty much a terrible place if you are not popular or not athletic. But you can be lucky and have really good friends that make it not such a terrible ride. But you can also have bullies, which can make it even worse. I hate bullies. I hate them more than anything and there are many different types of bullies and bullying. Some people may not even realize they are bullying someone. Putting people’s ideas down, ignoring someone because they are difficult to deal with, being short with people, it’s all a type of bullying and it can weigh people down, whether you can see it or not.
Some people are just very good at hiding when they have been hurt, not wanting the world to see. Not wanting people to know that someone else had the power to hurt them, not wanting to admit that they were bullied. That the ‘cool’ kids didn’t think of them as someone worth anything. It has to stop. Being a teenager is tough enough on its own, adding a bully into the mixture just makes it unbearable.
I pull an old t-shirt over my sports bra and tie up my hair in a high ponytail. “Yeah, I’m good,” I say to Eleanor.
“Then let’s go!” she says, and we head out the changeroom with the majority of the other soccer girls.
Walking out the school doors towards the fields, the sound of cleats on the pavement is rhythmic and almost comforting to me. I feel a hand slap me on the back and turn around to see the culprit. And I see him. James smiles at me and I can’t help but feel like the luckiest girl that I can grab his attention, that he is paying attention to me when there are so many other girls he could be with. He is so gorgeous that I question why he’s trying to get my attention, why he’s trying to spend time with me. “Good luck.” he says with a smile, “Although you don’t need it, superstar.”
“Superstar?” I say, “I like the sound of that.”
“I thought you might.” James says, “Listen, Arya, there’s something I wanted to ask you.”
“Shoot,” I say, curious what his question is going to be. I imagine all the different scenarios in my head, but then tell myself not to get too excited.
“James!” I hear a male voice call in the distance. It’s one of his soccer guys trying to get his attention.
James just rolls his eyes in response, not turning away from me. “I just wanted to ask you if you were free this Saturday night?”
Really? Is he really asking me on a date? Has the exact scenario in my head played out in real life? “Yes, I’m free,” I say, trying not to sound too excited.
“Great, I’ll…” James starts.
“James!!” the yelling is louder, “You better get moving or we’re all going to be doing laps!”
“You better go,” I say and he smiles and then winks at me before he turns to run to his teammates.
Tryouts pretty much went the same as last time, but the scrimmage went infinitely better, although it wouldn’t take much to beat it. Eleanor was on my team, and as she said, once she started making all her passes to me, the other girls followed suit, despite how much it irritated Isabella. Isabella and I still fought hard against each other, but thankfully no slide tackles this time. I think even she realized that she can’t get away with that more than once. She should have broken my leg the first time if she wanted to get rid of me.
After tryouts and back in the school, I fill up my water bottle at the fountain before heading into the change room and as I turn, I see him. “Glad I got to see you before I left.” James says, carrying his bag on his shoulder, “I have to head out, but I’ll pick you at 4:30 pm on Saturday. Can I have your phone number to keep in contact and get your address?” he says as he hands me his phone. I can tell he is in a rush, so I just do what he asks, not wanting to delay him any longer than necessary. As I hand him back the phone, he puts it in his pocket and then looks at me again with those kind eyes. “I promise I’m not blowing you off right now,” he says, worried that I might think that he is.
“I know you’re not, James.” I say, “Now get out of here!”
“Thanks,” James says, “I’ll see you Saturday, if not sooner.” And then he runs out the door and I just watch him.
“Did I hear correctly, or does someone have a date with the James Fox?” Eleanor says behind me, I turn to her with a big smile on my face.
“You did hear correctly,” I say excitedly.
“That’s awesome!” Eleanor says, “He’s a really good guy from what I hear, although I am surprised because he hasn’t dated anyone since Grade 9.”
I wonder why it changed with me, why am I an exception, or maybe this isn’t a date? I mean, he never used those words, but what guy asks a girl to hang out on a Saturday night as friends?
“Don’t overthink it.” Eleanor says, clearly reading my thoughts from my face, “I’m sorry I mentioned it, you must be special to him is all I meant.”