Yooyuball Dreams: Part Three
After enjoying everything else the festival had to offer, Marcia and Sadie met up at what would be the tail end of the parade. They had stuffed themselves full with food and bought all the souvenirs they could possibly want. There had been plenty of exciting things going on that day, almost as exciting as the Lunar Festival. People had brought their Yooyus to play in a little garden, and Marcia let Xana mingle for a little while. Then, the two friends watched a performance by a few residents to tell the history of the Altador Cup. The parade had only just started for the people standing at the beginning, and the team was the final group to go through, so it would be a while before they reached the two friends. Marcia was full of nerves as she clutched her shoulder bag with Xana the Yooyu inside of it.
“You doing okay?” Sadie asked with a gentle smile.
Marcia felt like she wanted to just run away and pretend like none of this had ever happened. What if Xana ignored her? What if Xana didn’t see her? What if Xana thought she was weird? “I’m nervous,” Marcia admitted reluctantly.
“I understand. I’m even a little nervous myself. I’d love to talk to them too. But I can’t imagine how you must be feeling,” the Meerca said with a nod. “I’m sure everything is going to turn out alright.”
The two friends watched the parade go by with trepidation. Each passing float or group brought them closer and closer to the Shenkuu Yooyuball team. Finally, after what felt like hours of waiting, Sadie caught a glimpse of them coming up.
“There! I think I can see Larcy Phu!” She shouted, pointing at the waving white Grundo.
Marcia craned her neck. Sadie was taller than her because of her tail. But slowly, the Ixi saw Larcy and the others walking down the street, gleefully greeting everyone. They could see the team captain, Mirsha Grelinek, blowing kisses to all of her fans. Timu and Antola Maeir were walking side by side and waving to everyone. Larcy looked calm and collected as he casually strolled down the street, nodding at the cheering fans. Finally, there was Xana DiLanche, who looked overwhelmed by excited by all of the support the team was getting. She smiled widely and waved like her hand was on fire.
“There they are! Oh man, it’s really them!” Sadie squeaked. She grabbed one of Marcia’s legs and gently tugged on it. “Come on, let’s go right over near the end so we can meet them.”
The two ran as fast as they could to where all the other groups had been gathering once they finished marching. The Shenkuu team finally walked in and started to chat amongst themselves. Sadie dashed up to Mirsha first, which didn’t surprise Marcia at all. She could already hear Sadie chattering away to Mirsha about how big of a fan she was. Although Marcia was a little surprised that Sadie didn’t like Xana more, considering that Xana was Shenkuu’s goalkeeper.
Marcia looked around and for a moment, she couldn’t see Xana. A brief flash of fear went through her. What if Xana left early? What if she didn’t want to see anyone? But those thoughts were cut off when she finally caught a glimpse of Xana’s signature dark ponytail. Marcia slowly walked up to her idol, clutching the strap of her bag even tighter.
“Um, Xana?” Marcia said in a voice so soft, she barely recognized it as her own.
Xana immediately turned her head toward the Ixi. “Huh? Oh, hi there! What can I do for you?” The other Xana peeked her head out of Marcia’s bag and made a little noise. “Oh my gosh, is that your Yooyu? It’s adorable!!”
“I - I named her after you,” Marcia sputtered out. “I’m a huge fan of yours. I wanna play in the Altador Cup someday. My name is Marcia.”
“Really?” Xana’s eyes widened and she grinned. “That’s incredible! No one ever really notices me, I’m just a lowly goalkeeper. I can’t believe anyone even knows my name!”
Marcia nodded quickly. The words were flowing out of her now, faster than she could think about them. “I wanna be just like you. You’re an incredible player. I went to every Shenkuu game last year and cheered for you. Every day at practice I play like you were watching me.”
“So you play, huh? Do you play on your team at school?” Xana asked.
“Yeah, I’m up for captain this year against this snotty girl who thinks she’s gonna get drafted by Krawk Island when she finishes school,” Marcia said with a roll of her eyes. “And I mean, if she does, good for her. But I’ve lived in Shenkuu all my life. I wanna play for you guys.”
“I’ve been playing for Shenkuu for about ten years now. But I’m not even from here. I’m from Lutari Island, where we don’t have an Altador Cup team,” Xana explained. “Our Yooyuball team back home was made up of like, five people. Ignore that girl. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
“Do you have any good tips for playing?” Marcia asked.
“Are you a goalkeeper too?” Xana asked in response.
Marcia shook her head sadly. “No, I’m a forward and always will be.”
“Ah, then none of my tips will be that useful to you,” Xana said sadly. “Other than just keep practicing. If Yooyuball is in your heart and soul, then you’ll go far if you keep at it.” She paused and looked at Marcia carefully. “You know, I could watch you play sometime if you want.”
Marcia suddenly felt like she was going to pass out. “You would watch me? Really?” She asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, if you’re a good player, I wanna see it. Maybe I can even get the coach to check you out if you’re the real deal,” Xana offered. “And I definitely can get you some box seats to all of our games. I can swing that no problem.”
“I - I can’t believe it.” Marcia was near speechless. She never in her wildest dreams believed that Xana would give her the time of day, much less watch her play and give her prime seats to games. “I’m so honored. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“Of course. I would’ve wanted someone to do this for me when I was a kid. Might as well start a chain of kindness,” Xana said. Someone called her name from the crowd and she turned. “Oh, I think that’s Mirsha. I need to get going. But thank you so much for saying hi to me. I’ll be in touch!”
And with that, Xana had disappeared into the crowd again, leaving Marcia stuck to the ground where she stood. This was the beginning of something new, something exciting, something special. This was Marcia’s next step to becoming a real Yooyuball player. She turned and ran off to find Sadie. After a brief minute of searching, she spotted her Meerca friend deep in the crowd, just as awed as Marcia was with the excitement of the day.
“I talked to her!” Marcia nearly screamed with excitement. “I talked to Xana DiLanche! And she was so nice and she offered to watch me play and she offered me game tickets and and and and…” She trailed off, barely able to contain herself. Marcia’s chest felt like it was going to burst.
“I talked to almost everyone! I would’ve liked a moment with Xana myself, but I didn’t want to interrupt the biggest moment of your life,” Sadie told her friend.
Marcia remembered her family and lit up. “I have to tell my parents and siblings! They’re gonna be so excited to hear this. And just wait until the next practice when Thalia finds out, she’s gonna be boiling with jealousy!”
“You know Thalia doesn’t care about our home team, she’ll just say that Krawk Island is the only team that matters.” Sadie rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Besides, I don’t want you to turn into her. Be humble about it!”
Marcia laughed, but groaned a little bit. “Okay, fine. Sorry if I was bragging to you too much or anything.”
Sadie shook her head and smiled. “Nah, don’t worry about it. Actually, there’s something I haven’t told you yet. I haven’t told anyone because I didn’t want to come off as a braggart. I’ve had two coaches get in touch with me about possibly playing for them. Moltara and Meridell.”
“What? Really?” Marcia gasped.
“As I said, I didn’t want to brag. And nothing’s set in stone yet! They want to see me play a little more. I know neither of them are prime winning teams, but it’s still a professional position and I’d jump at the chance if one of them officially offers,” Sadie explained modestly.
“I’m so proud of you, Sadie! I knew people would see how great of a goalkeeper you are. You’re just about as good as Xana,” Marcia teased. “No, but really. I’m so happy. C’mon, I want you to be there with me when I tell my family.”
The two friends grabbed hands and ran off into the next adventure, eager and brimming with excitement.