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Finnegan Liam Finnegan Professor Bain-Conkin Writing and Rhetoric 26 September 2013 Pressure Makes Diamonds Pressure makes

diamonds! I will never forget these three words. They had been implanted so deeply in my mind over the last three days of practice that all other thoughts were

pushed aside. We were ready and we knew it. As I neared the bright, warm sun light at the end of the square stadium tunnel, I grew more and more focused on the game at hand. We could not lose! The last strike of my cleats on the concrete floor echoed as I stepped onto the field-- Click Clack. The biggest game of my life was about to begin. Pressure makes diamonds, I thought, Pressure makes diamonds! When I broke through the thick, blinding wall of light and took my first step onto the warm turf, I entered a new world. Cameras flashed and spectators cheered. If the pressure had not been felt before, it was felt now. Gazing diffidently to the top of the partially filled stadium, I felt small. I was small, but part of something so much bigger. I glanced hesitantly to my teammate and though no words were exchanged, there was no need for words. Smiling reassuringly we nodded our heads, threw our sticks to the side, pushed each other, and took off for the team warm-up lap. In the next 60 minutes there would be no I. For the next 60 minutes, a group of young men would do more than wear the same shirt. We would share burdens and grief as a team in pursuit of a common goal. A goal we had been training and hoping for during the last four years. We, proud members of the Varsity Don Bosco Lacrosse team, had come here

Finnegan to face our rivals Bergen Catholic. We would not accept anything less than victory. This would be our day. Time slowed down after we took the field. Standing with the enemy in the restraining box, I began to settle down. The short, warm breaths of the defensemen pounding on my shoulder, the turf beneath my white Nikes, and the defenders stick digging into my hip comforted me. I had been here many times before; this was familiar this was home. At the sound of the opening whistle, I shook the defensemens stick from my hip, and took off one step ahead of him toward the midfield restraining line. I waited in hopeful anticipation for our defense to bring the ball back to our attack-men. In this moment, I was

nothing more than a spectator. I could do nothing, as I saw the white net jump back and let out its soft swoosh. It had not been twenty seconds and they already scored. Everyone had expected them to come with a fight, but that was more than a fight. Something must be wrong. The rest of the first half went just as badly. The locker room had lost its warm, optimistic air. Not one word was uttered from a player during the half time adjustment. Eyes, filled with shame and disbelief, sunk to the floor to ensure they would meet no other. Ears attentively listened to coach give his speech. Something was wrong. There was an explanation for our downfall. Bergens new head coach, who had been our defensive coach for the past five years, knew our plays and audibles. How could we defend the goal when they knew what defenses we were using? We needed to get creative if we were going to make our way back from the 16-7 lead Bergen had over us. To counter their knowledge of our plays, we changed our audibles to throw them off. Looking over to coach in the third quarter was much easier. Though he tried to hold it back, his smile after every goal gave the field a new air and the team a replenished sense of confidence.

Finnegan Things were beginning to look up as we climbed the scoreboard turning it into a 15-16 game with 30 seconds left. Just as I did at the start of the game, I lined up next to the defender with his stick in my gut, and my eyes on the ball. At the sound of the whistle, our faceoff-man clamped the ball and rolled it back, but Bergen picked up the ball and immediately they called timeout to put on fresh players to run the clock. Pressure makes diamonds! This is what coach meant. This feeling in my stomach this achinghe knew it would come. We needed to turn this pressure in to something greata

diamond. At the midfield line, I stood, this time without a defender. For him this game was over. I looked to the crowds, the cameras, and the top of the partially filled stadium seats. Did they think it was over too? I felt small again. I heard my name being called from the sideline and my teammate, the same from the start of the game, gave me that same reassuring look. I smiled, regained my composure, and focused back on the game. Cling! In 7 seconds our on-ball defender delivered a smashing hit to the midfielders stick, broke it, and brought the ball back to the attack. Incredible! We were back in the game. The defender this time clung very close to me. The X-attack-man started with the ball in the back corner. Coach called out, Scissors! It was our trick play. From behind the goal our two attackmen fake flicked the ball and then quickly moved the ball to me. I felt the ball in my pocket and pulled the stick back over my shoulder in preparation for the shot. Time slowed down again. These next 3 seconds were the longest of my life. Looking at the goal, my eyes met with the goalies. I saw fear in his eyesfear of the unknown. I had the advantage. I had 3 corners to pick from and all he could do was wait and anticipate. With the stick wound far back behind me, I stepped toward the goal and snapped it forward. As the ball made its way out of my stick, I felt it


rip off my last shooting string as the entire stadium let out a sigh. Soaring through the air toward the goal, the ball traveled. It was the ball and the goalie now. Pressure makes diamonds!