Chapter Seven

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The incredible morning turned into an awkward, tense afternoon in the locker room. Bev and Cheven stood on either side of me, buffering me from the rest of the team, and as soon as I slipped on my shin guards and my cleats, I escaped to the field. The freshmen hadn't left anything on the field this time, so there was nothing for me to play with. Instead, I just paced and paced and paced and ended up sitting on the bleachers to wait for the rest of the team.

            I leaned forward and held my head in my hands. This practice would decide if the game tomorrow was the best game I ever played, or the worst. I needed the whole team to work together, but judging by the silent hostility, that was going to be a much more difficult task than I could have anticipated. I had a tricky couple of hours ahead of me.

            The girls chattered away as they approached the field. Coach stepped up on the bleachers, "Hey King, you ok?"

            "Yep Coach, fantastic," I said as I hopped up and went to join Bev and Cheven.

            Cheven opened her arms, "There she is." She leaned in to whisper, "So what's the brilliant plan you came up with between Anatomy yesterday and right now?"

            I sighed and shook my head, "I got nothing. I thought maybe I could talk to Kendal one on one because she's kind of the leader of the torch and pitchfork mob, but then I remembered- She's Kendal."

            "Ah. Yes. There is that." Bev said, "But something has to be done. I say we just play it cool, and if she gives you any problems, we'll help you deal with them. We've got your back. I'm really glad you told Cheven and talked it out, by the way."

            I looked at Cheven, "Me too."

            Coach blew the whistle for practice to begin and we jogged out onto the field. Coach walked up to give us a pre-practice pep talk. "Alright, I know we're all excited about the game tomorrow, especially you seniors since college scouts will be there." Coach paused, "And I know it's tempting to want to show off and/or be a ball hog, but trust me, that's not what they want to see. They'll be looking for players who work as one cohesive unit and help each other shine, not tear each other down for a chance to get noticed."

            She clasped her hands, "Alright, let's do some warm-ups."

            There was a frigid divide between me, Cheven, Bev, and the rest of the team. Luckily the warm ups didn't have much contact, just agility and dexterity exercises. But then we came to the scrimmage part of practice. Kendal had somehow made it on my team, while Bev and Cheven were on the opposing team. I donned the orange mesh scrimmage vest and headed up to the center of the field.

            I met Kendal's icy stare with my own. "I think you're in the goal this time," She said, stone faced.

            I felt myself get hot, but I wasn't going to be pushed around. "I don't think so. I'll play forward, like I always do."

            "Get in the goal."

            I raised my eyebrows, "Kendal, back off."

            Her nostrils flared and her jaw clenched and she walked off to her position. I shook my head and watched her. What the Hell is her problem? I mean, I know she hates 'the gays' and all, but this really seems like overkill. Something else is going on here. Bev's eyes caught mine across the field, and she gave me a nod of encouragement.

            I gave her a sarcastic thumbs-up and we started our mock game. As was expected, Kendal was refusing to pass to me, look at me, or communicate with me in any way that would help us win. Kendal got the ball, and bolted down the field, until she got hung up by the defense. "Kendal I'm open!" I yelled, desperate for her to pass.

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