Yooyuball Dreams: Part Two
Marcia worked through her shift, selling food and trying to keep her mind off Xana and Yooyuball, until Shaya finally came back, her arms full of souvenirs. “There you are! I’ve been waiting for you! Mom and Dad said I could take a break as soon as you got back,” Marcia shouted.
The little green Xweetok whined. “Ugh, does this mean I have to take over now?”
“Yup!” Marcia turned back to the rest of her family. “See you guys later! I’m gonna go meet up with my friends!”
“Bye sweetie, have a good time! Stay safe!” Her mother called back as Marcia sped past her into the house. Marcia grabbed her bag from her room and slung it over her shoulder. Xana, sensing that it was time to go, hopped into bag as well. When they were both ready, Marcia headed out the door and straight to the field where her friends said they would be playing during the festival.
When she got to the field, she spotted everyone she knew from her school’s Yooyuball team practicing. Marcia was the only one on the team with an actual Yooyu, so they always just played with whatever balls they could find. The school usually had all the different Yooyus during official practices, but when they practiced on their own, all they had was Marcia’s plain Yooyu. “Hey guys!” She called from the top of the hill overlooking the field.
One of Marcia’s friends, a blue Meerca named Sadie, immediately looked up and grinned. “Hey, Marsh is here!” She dropped her equipment and dashed up to meet Marcia as she came down the hill. “I’m so glad you’re here, these stupid balls weren’t doing us any good.”
“I know, it really sucks that we can’t use the school’s Yooyus over the summer.” Marcia said in reply. The two walked down the hill and met up with everyone else playing. All of her other friends from the team were there, as well as Thalia and her crew, and a few others who didn’t play on the school’s team.
“Ugh, finally, we have a real Yooyu to play with now,” Thalia said, dropping the replacement ball on the ground. The rainbow Acara strolled over and extended her paw to be given the Yooyu, but Marcia recoiled.
“No! I don’t trust you with Xana. She’s my petpet first and foremost,” Marcia said angrily.
“Look, we get that you’re so obsessed with Xana DiLanche that you named your petpet after her, but this is just a Yooyu, not the real player!” Thalia snapped, before grinning. “Besides, we all know the real best Yooyuball player is Dinksy Collibridge.”
Everyone who wasn’t best friends with Thalia groaned. “We get it, Thalia,” Sadie said with a roll of her eyes. “You think you’re gonna get drafted by Krawk Island.”
“The coach promised me!” Thalia retorted. “And my parents said they’re gonna paint me pirate as soon as I get drafted.”
“No one cares!” Another one of their teammates, Pierre, shouted. “Let’s just get to playing before the parade starts.”
Thalia squinted at Marcia, then turned on her heels back to her friends as they stalked off onto the playing field together.
“Don’t mind her, really,” Sadie said, resting a hand on Marcia’s shoulder. “Everyone knows she’s all talk but no action. You’ll show her up on the field for sure.”
“I just really want to be Team Captain this year. I know I’m up for the position now that Mitch McHayes graduated,” Marcia said nervously, fiddling with the strap of her bag. “But so is Thalia. She’s gonna fight against me, hoof and paw, to get that position if it’s the last thing she does.”
“But trust me, it will be. You know Coach Laughlin will see what a great player you are and choose you,” Sadie reassured her. “Or me. I’d certainly love to be captain myself, even though I’m just a lowly goalkeeper.”
“Who knows?” Marcia said with a laugh. “Plenty of Altador Cup captains are goalkeepers!” The two giggled together and got their equipment on, ready to play.
They ran a couple drills with Marcia’s Yooyu, working on form. Marcia fell right into her natural rhythm with ease. Passing the Yooyu was definitely one of her strengths. It certainly helped that it was her own petpet they were using, but even without Xana, Marcia still did it well. They practiced a couple of shots at the goal to improve both the strengths of the forwards as well as Sadie’s as a goalkeeper. Marcia usually played right forward with Thalia as left forward, but they let some of the recreational players switch in a few times.
Finally, they were ready to play a full game. “Why don’t we divide up into teams? Since Thalia and I have seniority, we’ll be team captains,” Marcia suggested. Sadie was in her last year as well, but was okay with stepping back since she knew Marcia would choose her first.
“I get first pick though,” Thalia insisted, and Marcia knew better not to fight her. “I choose Kiki!” Her best friend, a camouflage Kiko, clapped excitedly before joining Thalia at her side. No one was surprised.
“And I choose Sadie, of course,” Marcia announced with a smile. Sadie stepped up and grinned.
The two competitors picked players back and forth until everyone had been assigned a team. There was an odd number, but the remaining player said that he would be okay with stepping out and being the referee. “Alright, let’s have a good, clean game!” The new Ogrin referee announced, imitating the famous Altador Cup referee. He held up Xana, ready to set her down on the field when the game started. “Three, two, one, go!”
Marcia dived forward and managed to grab Xana before Thalia could. She immediately passed the ball to her other forward, a white Vandagyre named Rocco with a really strong stride. He dashed down the field, swerving around Thalia’s defenders, before he took a shot at the goal. The Yooyu slid right in past the Kacheek goalkeeper and Marcia’s team cheered.
“That’s one point for Team Marcia!” The referee announced before grabbing Xana to start the next round.
The game continued and it was a good challenge for Marcia. Thalia managed to get a few goals in, but her biggest weakness was that she didn’t give enough chances to the other players on her team. The other forward she had picked was pretty good, but she rarely ever passed the ball to him so he wouldn’t take the spotlight off of her.
By the time the game was almost over, the score was five to four, with Marcia’s team in the lead. “Unlike traditional Yooyuball games, we will go into overtime if the score is tied,” the Ogrin announced. “So play hard until the end!”
Marcia steeled herself. She didn’t want the game to go into overtime. She wanted to get another goal and win by two points. But Thalia looked ready from the way she was sneering at the other team, so Marcia pumped herself up on the inside as well with thoughts of Xana DiLanche and how Marcia would play if Xana were watching.
“Three, two, one, go!” The referee shouted before setting the Yooyu down. Marcia and Thalia immediately went for the Yooyu at the same time, nearly crashing into each other. But Thalia was just the slightest bit faster and managed to get to it first. She started running towards the goal, but Pierre, who was one of Marcia’s defenders, managed to steal the Yooyu from her before she could get very far. He passed the ball to Marcia, who ran a few feet before passing it back to Pierre again. They had played together quite a bit, so they had some good strategies for tricking the other team. But Kiki, who was one of Thalia’s defenders, recognized their play and slid in as they tried to pass it again. She got the Yooyu to Thalia, who started to make a break for the goal, which was pretty open at that point.
“Sadie! Block her!” Marcia shouted desperately.
Sadie nodded back in confirmation and planted herself firmly. Thalia was somewhat predictable and always tried at least one fakeout before she actually threw the Yooyu, so Sadie knew what to be ready for. When Thalia finally made a go at it, Sadie threw her body to the left and caught the Yooyu square on.
“And that’s the game!” The Ogrin announced, throwing his hooves up. “Marcia’s team wins by one point!”
Marcia ran across the field and tackled her best friend in a big hug. “We did it! You were amazing!”
“No, you were amazing! You were the one who scored most of the goals for us!” Sadie replied, just as excited. Their other teammates ran over and joined the group hug while Thalia’s team sulked on the other side.
“We should probably stop playing now,” Pierre suggested when they were all done hugging. “The parade starts in an hour and I want to get some food beforehand.”
“Good idea,” Marcia agreed. “Let’s all break for now and meet up later before the parade starts. Sound good to you guys?”
Everyone nodded. “Come on, Marsh, you have to get ready to meet Xana DiLanche today!”
Marcia gulped, but smiled through her nerves. “I’m so ready. Let’s do this!”
To be continued…