From Teammates to Brothers

The Scripps Ranch High School Men’s Varsity Soccer team made it to the CIF Division 1 finals. After a tough game that came down to the last few minutes, the team suffered a heartbreaking loss. But in many ways, the players were big winners. They formed a bond that embodied the word “team.” This group also included boys who had played soccer together for years. Those boys became like brothers, and one player, Tyler Molenaar, shares what the team will always mean to him.

I remember the excitement I felt when I put my first Scripps Ranch Soccer Club jersey on 12 years ago. I was so proud to be a Lightning Bolt (right). Last month my heart ached when I took off my Scripps Ranch High School Falcon jersey for the last time after a grueling, hard fought CIF final game. It was over.

Being a member of a soccer team in Scripps Ranch for the last 12 years, primarily with two coaches, will be something that stays with me for the rest of my life. Many of the same boys who I played with as 8- to 10-year-olds were in the huddle with me before the last game of our soccer careers together. I didn’t want to hear that last whistle blow. I wanted time to stand still.

As I look back on what my teammates have meant to me, I think about everything we have fought for together, both on and off the field. On the field we battled year after year during the season, at tournaments, State Cup, and National Cup. We played in the off-season on arena soccer, Futsal, 3v3, and beach soccer teams. So many times we beat more talented opponents because of our sense of team and love for each other—I am sure of it. We didn’t want to let our best friends down, no way!

Besides teamwork and loyalty, I learned about responsibility, hard work, passion, and managing deep disappointment. We have had some heartbreaking losses, but that only made us stronger and closer.

When we weren’t on the pitch, we hung out, studied together, volunteered together as coaches for refugee youth, built houses in Mexico, and supported our teammate at Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walks. It was all amazing then, and it still is today as I remember the many good times. I don’t think I will ever forget these experiences and my friends, even as we will soon move in different directions.

We went on the trip of a lifetime to Europe to play against clubs from England and my dad’s home country of the Netherlands. (Tyler and Ben Tucker wrote about this Amazing Adventure in the SRCA Newsletter in 2012—www.scrippsranch.org/soccertrip). It takes extra passion and a strong team bond to have the ambition to play on the other side of the world.

We had enough team spirit to travel the world 100 times over, and it helped that our parents became great friends. We came with a large group. Scripps Ranch took over the streets of Amsterdam and London and represented well on the pitch.

This team was special. This team was my second family. Every week after a tough practice, the team would go to Rubio’s, unwind, and share many laughs. It usually included players, parents, and siblings, and we probably made way too much noise! We were always together, year after year.

And it was many of those same boys getting ready to play our last game in high school together. Our last game of our soccer career together. I’ll never forget when that whistle blew. Instead of being mad or upset, we turned to each other with tears running down our faces and gave each other one last hug on the pitch.

We gathered together in one last group huddle, which was the most emotional one yet. We made a promise to ourselves that we will make an effort to continue this brotherhood, and that we will still play pick-up games with each other at the park.

It’s amazing to me that I have known most of these boys all my life. I know that these boys and this team will forever hold a place in my heart.

Tyler Molenaar, SRHS Varsity Soccer