Fenny Vail: The Story Behind An Underdog - Part Four
The first game I would be attending as a benchwarmer was a game to be remembered. The game was against another local high school. Their team was almost top-notch. They were almost as good as my old team on Terror Mountain.
During the first half of the game, Lilo scored twice. The green Blumy on our team blocked two goals, and wow—our Lupe was fast. We were doing absolutely excellent until Lupey-guy took a yooyuball to the back of a leg. I did not see it happen, and I am still not sure how something like that would occur.
My coach yelled at me from complete nowhere in his raspy voice, “Rookie—yor up!”
This took me by complete surprise; I had been watching the other team at the time. Their goalie was a blonde Usul that looked like a younger version of Garin. He was great at catching and kept in touch with the game the entire time, watching closely. He seemed so intent with the game, like he was studying it.
I hopped up and sprinted onto the field. I was so crazily nervous, that day in the library was nothing compared to the feeling I had in my stomach right now. You know how some people say they have butterflies? Well, I had rabid Pteri, biting at the sides of my stomach, making me feel not so crazy about playing. Looking up to the sky, I wondered why the island had to be so hot all the time.
Reaching my position, I flashed a brace-smile to Lilo and raised a thumbs-up to the coach. The game resumed just as fast actioned as it was before the accident.
Lilo wrestled the yooyuball out of the other player’s sling and swung it at me before I had even realized it had been released.
For the first time, I realized why the entire game had seemed a bit off to me from the beginning. It wasn’t the heat, it was the yooyu; and it veered to the left and dipped low. It was definitely a mutant yooyu.
I ran as fast as my legs would take me, retrieving the yooyu. I was within 20 ft of the goal when I caught it.
Calculating the swing, the dip, and the slight veer, I swung my sling and released perfectly. I stood still for a moment, admiring my throw.
My pride almost seemed to blind me as the goalie—the Garin look-alike, came out of nowhere and dove for the yooyu. His fingertips rubbed against the mane of the yooyu, skimming against the spikes.
It was an amazing and honorable miss. The point was given to our team and our cheerleaders did what they were best at—they cheered on the top of their lungs.
I would be told hours later that the cheerleaders had been cheering me on from the moment I caught the yooyu. Laura was the one who told me this, and she was very happy when she informed me.
We reassembled, but this time we went with a different strategy- one where I retrieved the yooyu first and gave it to Lilo when he was far on the other side of the field. It was a simple, ingenious plan.
I approached the center of the field without haste, not even stopping to see what type of yooyu it was. Blankly, I scooped the yooyuball up and dodged past the other team’s forward.
Lilo slapped his sling into catch position and I reeled my sling back, starting to get ready to pitch. I saw the color out of the side of my eye—lilac. Oh dung! I quickly slipped my arm into a slightly left down angle and flung the sling forward with all my might, all without ever stopping running.
The moment the yooyu left my sling, I felt infinite. Just being there, mid-air from my releasal throw, watching a beautiful pitch, was all I needed.
The cheerleaders broke out into cheers and squeals as Lilo accepted the transfer. I could imagine myself always skipping out that play with him, it was truly epic. He caught it perfectly. In strangely perfect form, he approached the goal and went for the point.
For that one instant when the faerie yooyu’s wings were outstretched over the goal line, this was poetry. The colors were so vivid, as they still are in the still frame I keep in my mind. The feeling was so intense; I could feel the joy of the moment surging through my entire body from my center to my fingertips.
And then the most realistic thing occurred - the Garin-esque goalkeeper positioned himself in front of the yooyuball, and planted his feet.
I bit my lower lip, waiting for the yooyu to veer to the right or dip.
So, you want to know what happened. DID it dip? Well, of course not.
I have no idea how the Usul knew where to stand, but he was brilliant to know so. The faerie yooyu seemed to move in slow motion, into him, into his arms. His embrace on the yooyu was like the punch line to a great joke. It just was, and fit like nothing else. How fit was it that Lilo’s great pitch was caught by a spectacular block?
I am proud to say that that game was what invited me to be an artist. Yes, that’s what I call it. Yooyuball is an art to me.
That was the best game of my career. It was before all of the paychecks, the contracts and the fame.
It was the only game I played that year—the rest of the time I sat out. I didn’t mind; I got to learn from the rest of the team’s players. It helped me grow in patience, respect and it helped me develop some very much needed firm confidence in myself. I used to think I had real confidence, something to fall back on. But that day I was called cartoon voice, I knew that my confidence was fake and something that couldn’t be replaced.
So, want to know about nowadays? Well, last year I was honored to play with Gordo, Lilo, and Dayla at the Altador Cup. We didn’t make it to the end, but we did a fine job. And yes, I did say Dayla. Somewhere along the line, she decided to join us on the field. During the current cup, she took some time off to relax.
And my old team from Terror Mountain? I get to see Pry at the Altador Cup. I trained with her last season, and was pained to see them drop out in the competition earlier. What about the other teammates from my old team? They never really made it big like she did. However, the new, professional Terror Mountain team is worth praise as well. They play as though they could take down any team. They are inspiration for anyone. I don’t mean to say this in a way to hit at the other teams’ confidence, it’s just true. Every team has their high point, and Terror Mountain’s is spirit, and I’m glad to see Pry carrying that spirit into each game.
I am still here, playing the game. Even though I am on a bigger field, with a larger fan base, I am still playing the same game. I am honored to be playing for such great fans, and for the king. I will remain here for as long as I can be.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped me stay here. I owe a lot to Laura, one of my best friends who has supported me for the longest time. My parents have also supported every decision I have made, Lilo has been a great captain for all this time, and I have to thank everyone I have ever met. Every fan that’s ever asked for an autograph, any young pet whose bought a Roo Island poster to get strength from, has helped me in one way or another. Just knowing you are out there and on your way, is enough to give me confidence and the ability to keep on going.
Even though I play for the “underdog team”, I really do not see us as that. The other teams may see us as a small road bump to victory, but that is because they are afraid to see a small girly Usul and a misfit Blumaroo beat them. We are victory disguised as a team of failure. We fight without stopping. In reality, while the Rooligans from Roo Island cling to the underdog title, they all know that we are much more than that. We can be anything we want.
I can be ‘cartoon voice’.
I can be Usuki doll fan #45,682.
I can be a valuable member of an excellent team.
I can be failure.
As the saying goes (you know, the saying that people say sometimes) , “Some Usuls are pink, and some are camo; But a camo Usul can’t be pink.”