"You bitch!" Tanya said with a laugh.
Steam filled the locker room and Sharon-Ann, unwilling to ease up, cupped her hands one over another and using the hot water from the shower head, sprayed Tanya again.
"So it"s like that, huh""
Sharon-Ann crowed, "Yeah, it"s like that. What are you gonna do about it""
Tanya grinned and grabbed a water bottle from her duffel. "Guess I"ll just have to dunk on you."
I"d seen this play out before. Tanya was gonna take off at a running start at Sharon-Ann, and in the process, forget how fast she was. Being fast made her a good winger, but as a freshman and one of our newer recruits, it also made her a bit like a newborn foal, quick but unsure on her legs. In the damp mist of the locker room, I could just picture her tearing at Sharon-Ann, water bottle on high, then slipping on the white tile, landing hard, cracking her tailbone, and being benched for the rest of the season.
Being team captain, or really any kind of leader, gives you the undesirable ability to see into the future, and to find the grimmest possible outcome. You know how they say that the difference between teenagers and adults is that teenagers think they"re invincible, and adults know they aren"t" That was what being captain had taught me " that invincibility was a myth. I had to protect my team, usually from themselves.
"Tanya, Sharon-Ann," I called out, already weary. "Be careful, the floors are slippery."
God, twenty-one-years old and I already sounded like somebody"s mother. All I needed was an ill-fitting J. Crew peplum and a secret, vodka-filled flask in the back pocket of my Old Navy jeans.
"Aw, come on Catya, we"re being safe," Sharon-Ann replied back, her voice ringing off the lockers.
Unable to help myself, I rolled my eyes. "Sure you are. Can you just like, sit on the floor and spray each other" It"s all of the water without any of the running."
Tanya"s sigh was nearly audible across the entire locker room, even through the laughs and light chat of the other twenty-three girls. She was disappointed in me, in my unrelentingly strict ways. I"m bored of it too, I wanted to reply. Being straight-laced might have been my responsibility, but it certainly wasn"t my identity. When we were off the clock, and I wasn"t in charge of everyone"s well-being, I let my hair down with the best of them.
But with the championships only a few months away, my hair had to stay firmly up at all times.
"Never mind," Tanya said, openly annoyed. "It"s not fun anymore."
I briefly debated lampooning her for being so uncooperative, but decided against it. After being promoted to captain last year at the age of twenty and only a sophomore, I became the youngest women"s soccer captain ULA had ever seen. Some of the older girls were miffed that I got the spot, saying that it ought to go to a more senior team member. Which was to say, I had to fight like hell to prove I belonged, that I earned what was given to me. I think they backed off because I was, beyond dispute, good at the job, and when people saw how much work it was, the position no longer seemed so desirable.
In any case, I"d earned the trust of the others " and maybe their pity, too, though I chose not to dwell on that.
Out of the corner of my eye, which seemed to have gained an extra fifteen degrees of vision since becoming captain, I saw Tanya and Sharon-Ann lay off the water fight. Good. A small victory.
"All right, girls," I began. "Normal practice time tomorrow, I think with some gym training, so be sure to bring regular sneakers as well as cleats""
"Ladies," a male voice interrupted. "Are you decent""
The girls looked around at one another, confused, and then at me.
"Who"s that"" Riri asked.
I shrugged, the voice was unfamiliar. "I dunno."
"Should we let him in"" Neidin queried.
"Uh" I guess so," I replied, faltering. I did a quick visual sweep of the locker room, checking for any visible tits or ass. "Ya"ll dressed""
Nods all around, except for Sophia, who called back, "One sec, just need a shirt."
She began pulling every single thing out of her duffel bag, and the team heaved a collective sigh. Sophia was chronically disorganized, is it shocked us one and all when she turned out to be an excellent center midfielder. Amongst ourselves, we wondered how she even managed to find the ball in order to pass it, let alone assist in so very many goals.
At last, she pulled on a tee, and triumphantly rejoined, "All set!"
"Okay," I returned. Then, to the door, "We"re ready, you can come in!"
The team and I turned in unison to see whomever was standing on the other side of the wall. Through the steam came a short, portly figure, his hairline so far back that it didn"t appear to exist on the same plane as his face. And the face, when it did come into view, was a familiar one.