Lacing up my cleats, I looked across the field and saw familiar faces, which was a first. Even though it was only our second game, it was the only time during the season that our M1 intermural soccer team, “Multiple Scorosis,” was matched up against “Nothing But Netters,”opponents we actually knew off the field. I had butterflies in my stomach and wasn’t exactly sure why. Maybe it was because this was the Monday of test week? Because of the giant M2 and M3 who looked like they could take me out with one swift kick? Or maybe the fact that my overplayed shin guards from high school felt like they had seen better days.
As we took our positions on the field, I could tell that the M2/M3 team was serious. I looked to their goal, and Ben DeMarco was wearing his most intimidating game face. The whistle blew and the game began, both teams fighting hard while still playing fair. Throughout the game, I found myself comparing the action to my course in medical school. My journey thus far has shown me the absolute importance of working as a team to be successful. Beginning with the ball on our side of the field was like orientation. We were all somewhat hesitant at first. We made crisp, safe passes in order to move the ball up the field. We moved slowly while assessing our strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the other team. Our style of play reminded me of the beginning of our first module when we worked to find a balance between EMT and anatomy material. Personally, it took a few weeks for me to adjust and determine how and when to study without being overwhelmed.
As a team, we focused on moving the ball up the field — finally it was time for a shot. The shot was fired, and unfortunately, the goal missed. So what did we do now? Recover. Get back on defense. Just like some of us had to do after our first anatomy test. Reassess our study habits. Ask ourselves why we missed certain questions: “Am I really understanding the material or just simply memorizing the key points?”
At this point in a soccer game, you’re most likely out of breath, pushing your limits to get back down the field. Forming a strategy is key at this point in a game, just as it was at this point during our anatomy module. I will admit that after a long day of multiple hours of lecture, I sometimes felt exhausted and didn’t want to look at one more bone, ligament, or joint. Picture this as being up against a defender. In soccer, your defender may be a foot taller than you, faster than you, and have amazing footwork. With anatomy, I came to find that my only defender was myself. Pushing through the material that stumped me and working my hardest allowed me to finally “get the ball back” and be in control again. Time to get your bearings, dribble up the field again, and go for that shot.
During half time, I had a moment. I’m not really sure how to “classify” this moment. Here’s how it went: I looked around at my team. These are the individuals who will be a huge part of my life for the next four years — by my side, laughing with me, learning with me, wiping my tears, and acting as a portion of my support system. I realized that counting on them on the field was like depending on them in class, lab and other school-related activities in many ways. Each of them has unique personality traits that allow them to truly shine. Without each piece of the puzzle, our team wouldn’t be complete. For example, there’s Mark, who is our “Speedy Gonzales” on the field, always ready to feed the ball to Stefano and set up a killer shot. Off the field, he is my personal, walking “Color Atlas” in anatomy lab. If I ever need someone to point out a structure or explain its function, Mark is my go-to. There’s Alyssa, who is who is a rock-solid defender, always challenging the ball and putting up a fight to never let it get near the goal. In the classroom, I could rely on Alyssa to show me how to insert a King LT airway in EMT lab or hold a C-spine while I transferred a patient to a long spine board.
The second half of the game began, and we were feeling a little more comfortable with our talents, as well as the skills shown by the Nothing but Netters team. We had seen this team play for 25 minutes already, and we knew most of what they could and couldn’t do. I noticed a striking parallel with the second half of our anatomy/EMT module. We had already taken two tests and were familiar with expectations in lecture and labs. We knew how each of our professors taught and could anticipate their test questions. I knew that if I had a question on a Wednesday night, I could find Leigh-Ann on the third floor or Anne-Marie and Harry in a cubicle on 1.5. If I couldn’t locate a structure in the lab, I could find or email Dr. Williams, Dr. Khalil or Dr. Black and expect a prompt response as well as personalized help.
Even though the soccer game didn’t turn out like we wanted (the M2/M3s skunked us, 3-0), the hard work and many hours of studying paid off by the end of our anatomy module. I know we’re all in a grueling game that will have few time-outs and seem like it’s constantly in multiple overtime situations. But the players I have found myself with, on and off the field, constantly inspire me and show me that when we combine our individual skills, stamina and compassion, anything is possible.
I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to Chapel Hill to spend my undergraduate career as a Tar Heel. I majored in biology, with a minor in chemistry, and consider myself extremely fortunate to have had many unique experiences in my life thus far. I worked as a research assistant at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center and in the Department of Genetics at UNC, interned with Carolinas Laparoscopic and Advanced Surgery Program (CLASP) at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and spent time as a member of a Global Medical Training team that set up temporary rural medical clinics in Panama. I thrive on adventure, am a travel enthusiast, and enjoy kayaking and exploring new places in my free time. I am passionate about improving quality of patient care, and hope to pursue a career in pediatric endocrinology, anesthesia, or internal medicine. I am honored and excited to be a part of the USCSOMG Class of 2018- a group of truly compassionate, intellectual, and driven individuals.
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville