This is the story of my first trip to meet my private coach.
Those that know me know that I have a thing for VW vans. So the natural vehicle to purchase after I sold my Jeep was the only VW bus I could find in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Turns out it was a 1976 VW turquoise van. I purchased the van with the intension of driving it to San Diego and using it as my base camp for the summer soccer training adventure. This was the summer after my sophomore year in college and my first experience in CA. I was going to be living with a family I had never met and training with a coach I had never spoken with all while driving an old VW bus around town. Good idea? Yeah, in theory…I thought.
My dad had committed to driving with me to San Diego as he thought it would be a nice time to visit. We set out on our great adventure. Now just to set the record straight, neither I nor my parents had any money. I had just sold my only asset (the Jeep) and had roughly $600 to my name after purchasing the van. My parents were in the midst of the most challenging time of their lives as they were living in my grandmother’s basement with a total of Zero income/month (no joke). The point I’m making is that I didn’t have an ATM card for mom and dad to refill and I wasn’t getting any handouts. I didn’t have a calling card, cell phone or internet connection however I did have $600 to my name, an old VW bus, supportive parents and a dream.
So this is how the adventure began. I said my goodbyes to family early on a Thursday morning and headed west. We only got to Jamestown before we were ready for breakfast. After eating a hearty truck stop breakfast we proceeded to start the van and nothing happened. After much research and a little help from our trucker friends we realized that each time we stopped we would need to crawl under the van with a hammer and smack the crap out of the starter. We could have bought a new starter but frankly we didn’t have the money. So dad and I smiled and reminded each other that this was an adventure. After that moment we did our best to choose when we should and shouldn’t turn the van off as we made our journey across country.
That first night we ended up somewhere in SD. I remember driving into what seemed to be the storm of the century (even worse in a VW van). We decided it would be nice to sleep in a hotel but we didn’t have the option as there was nothing in sight plus we were always counting the cash. We ended up pulling over on the side of the road and just calling it a night. That night was a rude awakening as the sleeping area was soaked. Yeah, the rusty van was spitting up water all inside that sleeping area but we did our best to make due. Not much sleep. I remember looking forward to daylight.
The following morning as we got out to stretch, we noticed a nice oil leak developing beneath the van. Well we were this far, no stopping us now. We pushed on. Now it started to get a little nerve racking. Each time we stopped for gas we would check the oil and be forced to add a bit. Sometimes we shut off the van and other times we just poured. Yeah, not too smart but we didn’t have too many options.
Day Two we made it to the Rockies. Oh, BTW did I mention the heater didn’t work in the van? Driving through the Rockies is something I will truly never forget. I kid you not, at one point both my dad and I were bundled in a blanket so all you could see was our faces. We were doing our best to get up a steep part of a mountain probably going around 38.5 MPH when two cute girls pulled up next to us and just started pointing and laughing. Both my dad and I lost it. We too could not stop laughing as we were in the midst of a snow storm, in the Rockies, with no heat while driving the VW bus. We were a perfect picture of dumb and dumber…in a van. That night we opted for a cheap hotel room, hot shower and warm pizza. What a day!
Day Three was no walk in the park either. We had to continue our journey through the Rockies and find our way back down so we could land the van in Vegas. Hey, don’t forget about the oil leak. By this time in our journey we were adding a quart of oil for every tank of gas. It was just spitting oil. We did make it to Las Vegas and thought we were home free. We couldn’t have been further from reality.
We ate a Las Vegas buffet (another bad idea) and decided to push on to get to San Diego to meet up with my buddy Mike. As I was backing out of a parking space, I proceeded to run over a curb. Seems harmless right? Well not for a VW van that was already duck-taped together. This simple mistake brought on much discomfort from within my stomach. Hitting the curb ended up basically ripping the muffler off the van while also causing the engine to lose some compression. We pushed on as that is all we knew to do. I guess you push the envelope when you don’t have other options.
True story…we rolled into San Diego at roughly 35-40mph while driving the VW van on the shoulder of the freeway. I was sick as I knew this van wasn’t going to last the summer. Reality sunk in. My dad was flying out in two days, my only means of transportation was shot and oh yeah, I was subjecting myself to a world of uncomfortable. Did I tell you I was basically broke without any job? Well to try to prolong the inevitable my dad and I decided we were going to stay one last night in a hotel before checking in with Mike and his family. We ended up driving to a place called Hotel Circle in San Diego thinking we would get a room. Not one available out of the tens of hotels and thousands of rooms.
It was late and we were forced to call Mike. There was nowhere to stay. Mike drove down to meet us in Hotel Circle. Now when I thought things couldn’t get much worse, we arrived to Mike’s apartment and I was informed that Mike either failed to tell his parents I was coming or his parents thought I wasn’t coming. Talk about uncomfortable! Here I am with my dad, a crappy loud van and parents that didn’t really want me there. Not good but I knew I wanted to be there and Mike was willing to make it work for me.
Although there is some humor in all this I can tell you that I was completely and utterly uncomfortable. I can’t tell you how bad I wanted to get on that plane with my dad. I began to doubt myself. I questioned why I was doing this. At the time I had no good reason…until I showed up for the first practice. This was when I met Ziggy. After one practice I knew this was where I was to be. No matter how uncomfortable or homesick I felt I knew that if I wanted to live with no regrets I had to press on. My homesickness and feeling of discomfort always left while I was at the field. This the field was my escape.
While on your journey of life there will be times you question yourself. It is easy to back down from challenging situations and often times justifiable in people’s eyes. Only you know your goals and dreams. Don’t let a few moments of emotion stop you from either trying or accomplishing your goals. This is what will separate you from others and allow you to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. You may fail but that failure too can give you courage the next go around.