"Dear Zoe ... Love, Luke"

I had seen previous letters SVFC players wrote for younger siblings and I often wondered if I would be asked to write a similar letter now that my little sister Zoe plays for the club. I have been thinking for a while what I might tell her, and now that I have been asked, I guess I have my chance. We both love the game of soccer for different reasons and I think with different end goals in mind, so my letter to Zoe is about what makes this game so great. It's also about how a freshman in high school, who wants to play at the next level, and a seventh grader, who plays for the love of the game, can share common experiences and learn lessons that will last a lifetime.

Dear Zoe, I started playing soccer at three years old. Armed with a little more than quick feet, a desire to compete and a nose for the goal. Rec soccer was my first taste of being part of a team and forming friendships outside of existing family relationships. Friendships that were based on the singular goal of working together to, whether we knew it or not, beat the team on the opposite side of the field. Rec soccer wasn’t supposed to be about winning or losing, we weren’t even supposed to keep score, but every kid knew what was going on. Rec soccer is where my love for the game began. It's also when I started to realize I may be half decent at it. You also started playing Rec soccer at a young age. I would watch you from the sidelines and was proud of the way you held yourself on the field. We have different styles, but you also had a knack for scoring goals, and like every other part of your life, making friends. As I got older and started taking soccer more seriously, I moved on to a premier league team, then to an academy team, and eventually, found a home at SoccerViza Football Club (SVFC). As you got older and started to take soccer more seriously, you also upped your game and played on a travel team before joining me at SVFC. The ride hasn’t always been easy for either of us, but we somehow always seem to land on our feet and soccer is no exception (we probably have mom to thank for that). Soccer is the greatest game on the planet, and if you don’t believe me, ask any of the 3.5 billion soccer fans around the world (that is a real number, I asked Google). It doesn’t matter if you're a boy or a girl, rich or poor, black or white or any color in between, soccer is the world’s game that not only bonds you and me, Zoe, but millions of other kids all over the globe. Soccer is something we get to share with each other, our parents, and maybe one day kids of our own. It goes without saying that we have both learned about teamwork, hard work, and perseverance over our brief soccer careers. You do not need me to give you any advice on those topics as you are the most determined person I know. As a player, one piece of advice I think is worth mentioning is being able to take a step back and enjoy the time on the field with your teammates. I must admit, you do this better than me as it is more in your nature than mine, but it is important to stop and smell the roses as soccer will someday come to an end at some point for both of us. Therefore, it's important that we appreciate this time in our lives. One soccer experience that we have in common has been our transition to new positions once we arrived at SVFC. I played various attacking positions on almost every team I played on before joining SVFC. Literally two games into my SVFC career, Joe and the coaching staff transitioned me to wingback -- a position that utilizes my full skillset and a position I have come to love. You were a primary goal scorer before showing up at SVFC. Now, your coaches are experimenting with putting you in different positions although I have a hunch you will end up as an attacker because your game is sneaky good when it comes to playing up top. The advice I would give you is to keep an open mind when trying different positions, and to put the work in at practice. Stars may be born in games, but champions are forged during practice. I am proud of the soccer player you have become, Zoe, but I am more proud of the sister you are to me and Cooper. I'm also proud of the young woman you are becoming and I hope I make you proud as well. It makes me happy to know that we will always have our shared soccer experiences to look back on, especially this time, now at SVFC. Love, Luke

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