Please forgive any typos. I was bad and didn't proofread this one.


Suddenly, Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favorite days of the week. But nothing could top Saturdays. The word favorite was an understatement.

Practices became much easier after our win against Real Madrid. The team was happy, confident. So was I. Of course, I didn't know if my new, wonderful mood really came from the knowledge that in a time where all of the other teams were beginning to slump, ours was quickly on the rise. Even though we had soundly beaten the old champions the last week, I had the feeling that my happiness stemmed from the fact that Michael would shuck balls back to us if they came to close to the tether ball post.

He was always there, watching me with a smile on his face and his arms casually crossed over his chest. I very quickly learned to orient the practice field so that I could smile back as often as possible. It felt good.

The Friday before our next game dragged. It was like one of those cartoon detention scenes where the clock moves at hyper speed until someone hits it and you realize that the time hasn't changed at all.

I wished someone would stop hitting my clock.

Slowly, painfully, Saturday rolled around. I think that it was a good thing I was so excited to be at the park or I would never have gotten out of bed that morning. It was freezingI knew I had said that a lot this winter, but now I realized that I had been a wimp. Those days were nothing compared to this.

The first thing I did after getting out of bed (blankets still attached) was to check for snow. Not that it would really matter, soccer games were only canceled for lightening. There wasn't any snow, so I checked the vent to see if the heater was working. It was.

Wow, I thought to myself. I would have said the word aloud, but I had no desire to see my breath on the air inside.

Luckily, everyone else had no plans to sit still in this weather so we were ready to go quickly.

At the park things were even worse, but at least there I was able to distract myself. Most of the team was already there and I wasted no time in getting to the warm-up before they became kidscicles.

As usual, I gathered them up afterwards to talk. I was slightly out of breath from joining in their warm-ups- I had no intention of becoming a teenscicle- but managed to get my point across. "There is only one game left in the regular season, guys. If we win today we'll be in first place."

"Then we'll get a trophy," I told him with a smile. "And we'll be in a really good position for the playoffs." I saw Daniel smile; he wanted this badly. "So are we ready to win?"

"Yes," came the muted reply.

"Wow," I said in mock disappointment. "Half of you want to win. So do you want to win?"

"Yes!"

With this satisfactory response, I gathered them closer. "Hands in the middle, guys. Ready? One, two, three,"

"Snipers!"

Apparently I was not the only one affected by the cold. Not thirty seconds after the whistle had blown, Daniel was around the immobile Real Madrid defenders and put the ball in the net. Our sideline went crazy. Finally his drought was over. Our opponents were done for after that, Daniel was hot and two more goals and a three-zero score proved it.

Finally, I could smell it. All we had to do was beat Mel's team in the semi-finals and we had it.

I realized something in that moment: getting into the finals was great, but I had been there before. Sub-champion would not be enough this time.

I wanted it all and for the first time I had absolute faith in my team to help me get it.