Jacob was just following orders around Logan and Dave. Dave was older than Xavier, Logan, and Jacob himself. In fact, the three of them were the only 8th Years in the team. He didn’t want to prank Duncan Yoo even if Dave had bribed him $10. He thought, in no way was he ever going to prank a son of a business tycoon. But it was because of what Dave said that convinced himself to prank Duncan Yoo.
Dave had always been persuasive to Jacob. Well, that’s only because Dave knew how to get into Jacob’s head, and Jacob has a certain weak spot for certain words that only Dave knows.
They were already in the gymnasium. He sat next to Dave because he was Jacob’s best mate even though Dave was, in a way, blackmailing him. Dave placed earphones on Jacob’s ear.
“My brother had me listened to this band over the summer. You might like them because they’re somehow whimsical. Reminds me of you,” Dave said.
Jacob whispered to himself, “Of course, it will.”
He listened patiently to Dave’s playlist. He didn’t listen to the speeches of Colton Canes and Dean Edevane. He never liked listening to speeches anyway. When he saw Dean Edevane was coming down from the podium, he quickly removed the earphones. He and Dave stood up as Logan and Xavier jumped to their feet.
“Yo! All desperate to be popular like us, head off to the track and field and attempt to join us!” Logan screamed. Dave punched Jacob’s arm.
“Make sure we’ll get a lot more midfielders. We’re short on that,” Dave said.
“Come on Jacob,” Logan said. Jacob turned to him. “Let’s get us some new recruits.”
Jacob grinned. “We’ll show them how it is to be part of the most awesome team ever existed.”
Xavier shook his head. “All right, guys. Head off to the football field while I entertain the applicants in our booth.”
Logan and Jacob nodded. They hurried to their locker room and quickly changed into their jerseys. Jacob opened his locker and immediately took of his pants and polo and wore his jersey. After he changed, he put on his socks and remembered a mishap from last year. He stood frozen in front of his opened locker, panicking inside.
What am I gonna do? He thought. Why did I forget about this?
“’You okay mate?” asked Logan.
Jacob glanced at Logan, uneasily. “Um…I-It’s nothing.”
Logan scowled. “Come on. What is it?”
Jacob turned his back against Logan. The latter stood up and went towards Jacob who went to stand next to his locker. He didn’t want Logan to see his torn shoes. He forgot his boss was spewing at him for playing football. He had not told his dad about the destroyed shoes in fear of getting him disappointed.
“Let me see that,” Logan said. He and Jacob stared at each other. Jacob quickly moved his eye out of Logan’s contact.
“I have a spare,” Logan said. He went to his own locker and got his spare blue spike shoes.
“Here,” he said and handed them over to Jacob.
“You’re not going to ask me what happened?’ Jacob muttered when Logan went back to his locker.
Logan made a snorting noise. “Please. One thing I learned from our matches: if Jacob Hansen is upset don’t ask him why.”
Jacob managed to chuckle. “Good. You know how to deal with me.”
“Come on,” Logan muttered. “The amateurs and wannabes are waiting for us.”
Jacob laughed as he put on the shoes. He and Logan made a run for the football field. There were a lot of guys on the field, mostly conversing with each other. A few others looked very nervous.
“Those nervous ones should just back out,” murmured Logan.
Jacob agreed. Last year, there were about forty freshmen who tried out for the team. Jacob was nowhere near nervous of the try-outs. He mentally and physically prepared himself for it. He impressed everyone at the try-outs with his goaltending. There were a lot others who were actually pretty good but Coach Simmons only took the three of them to the team. He still remembered what Coach Simmons said to him, Logan, and Xavier.
“You blokes saw those other kids? They’re pretty good, aren’t they, eh? But I don’t need good. I need confidence. And only you three gave me confidence. Welcome to the team, Rutter, Fabracante, and Hansen!”
Logan and Jacob knew which hopefuls to bring to Coach Simmons.
Xavier was standing in front of the crowd, holding up a clipboard. He glances back to them.
“Hey! Hurry up!” Xavier shouted. They ran up next to him.
“I’ve got all the names here. There were a lot who signed up, almost a hundred. So I asked permission from Coach that we’ll have 7th and 8th Years today,” Xavier explained.
“So how many are we dealing today?” asked Jacob.
“Thirty-two,” replied Xavier. “Twenty 7th years and twelve 8th years. Coach Simmons apparently asked the school doctor check on their physical condition. The doctor’s almost through with it. Then, we’ll have them run around for two laps.”
“Great! Let’s get this started.” Logan said. Then he face the group.
“All right! Gear up we’re about to start the try-outs. First up, stamina!” Logan said.
The try-outs made Jacob nostalgic. Logan group them in four for a run of two laps. Jacob helped Xavier with writing the names of the hopefuls on a sticker and then stuck them on their shirts.
“All right!” Logan said. He put a whistle around his neck, he pressed it on his lips, and blew.
The stamina test was finished twenty minutes. The next round was push ups. Xavier left them for a while when Dave and a few other teammates arrived. Logan stood next to Jacob while observing the candidates. Meanwhile, Dave and others were picking at the candidates.
“You see that Asian guy there?” asked Logan.
Jacob stared at the only Asian guy auditioning. The Asian dude looked rather skinny but seemed to be doing a lot of push ups.
“He’s quite good with the push ups, isn’t he?” Jacob muttered.
“He gave me a disdainful look a while ago during the assembly,” Logan said.
“Huh, the guy doesn’t like you,” Jacob said. He smirked. “I wonder why.”
Logan scowled at him. “Wow. You’re the one to say that.”
“Why don’t you test him on his skills?” asked Jacob. “I’ll keep an eye on him for you.”
Logan patted Jacob’s shoulder. “No way. I’m gonna show him who’s he giving those looks.”
Jacob laughed. “Yes, of course. Almighty Logan Giuseppe Fabracante!”
He follows Logan towards the Asian dude.
“Stop! Everyone stop!” Logan shouts. They stood up at once. The Asian dude, whose name happened to be Sungjo Seo as Jacob read on the sticker, was initially surprised to see Logan before him.
“We’ll start with the drills now,” Logan said. Jacob glanced at him. Logan was, indeed, not pleased with Sungjo Seo.
I’m going to like this. Jacob thought, excitedly.
Logan screamed at the candidates to dribble a ball. Then, he ordered them to do a passing drill. Jacob and Logan watched Sungjo Seo closely. He was rather impressive compared to how his physique.
“Is this guy even for real?” asked Jacob to Logan when Sungjo dribbled the ball quickly through lines of cones.
“Wow.” Jacob turned and found Xavier.
“That guy is quick,” Xavier continued.
Jacob looked from Xavier to Logan. The latter wasn’t impressed.
“But can he make a goal?” asked Xavier to Logan. Jacob saw a glint of happiness in Logan’s eyes.
I’m going to laugh if this guy can make a goal. Jacob thought.
“Jake, will you do the honors?” Xavier asked.
Jacob took out his gloves from his pocket. He put them on and run to the goalpost.
Logan blows the whistle. “Time to see if you lot can make a goal or two!”
All thirty-two candidates lined up. Meanwhile, Jacob readied himself. He clapped his hands through the gloves. He felt adrenaline rushing through him. He blocked every goal attempt by the first six candidates then it was Sungjo’s turn.
Jacob glanced at Logan. The latter was giving Jacob a “you-better-not-screw-this-up” look. Jacob half-smiled. He has always been confident of his goaltending, even when it came to Logan and Xavier.
Jacob eyed Sungjo carefully. Let’s see if you have the making for a striker.
Sungjo shook his head and his arms. He gulped as he got ready to shoot. Jacob glances at Logan quickly to signal him to blow already. Logan got the message and blew the whistle. Sungjo ran towards the ball. A smile grew on Jacob’s face. Sungjo strikes the ball. Jacob stood firm on his feet. He ran to his left, raising his arms up, and finally catching the ball in both hands. He threw the ball at Logan. They eyed each other. Logan had a “good-work” look. Xavier grabbed the ball from Logan as Sungjo, with his head down, walked back to the end of the line.
“Do another one,” said Xavier.
Sungjo lifted his head as Xavier shove the ball to his chest.
“This time, don’t be such in a hurry to run towards the ball. That was your mistake,” Xavier explained.
Sungjo nodded and took the ball from Xavier. Jacob and Logan looked at each other. Logan gave another “you-better-not-screw-this-up” look again. Jacob nodded.
Sungjo placed the ball on the ground to its proper position, then went back to his place. He took a deep breathed to which Jacob despised because to him it showed Sungjo was scared. Sungjo ran, a bit slower than his first try, and then kicked the ball. Jacob’s eyes followed the ball. He hopped to his left where his gaze follows the ball. He jumps to reach for the ball but it hit the goalpost.
Logan, Dave and a few others from the team laughed. Xavier looked disappointed. Jacob managed to smile.
So he’s not a striker. Jacob thought. Xavier called Hank, the substitute striker, to take over Jacob’s job. Jacob and Logan followed Xavier out of the field.
“Disappointed?” asked Logan. He and Jacob stared at each other.
“Well, I thought he was a striker. He’s really good. he’s quick and he’s passing and dribbling is good,” Xavier said as he sits on a bench.
“Why are you spewing on about it?” Jacob muttered. He and Logan stood in front of him.
“Because we need another skilled striker,” Xavier said.
“We’ve got loads of substitute forwards. Plus, we’ve got you and Logan. We don’t need another striker,” Jacob said.
“We need one in case some situation like last year’s finals happen,” Xavier murmured.
Logan and Jacob looked at each other. They immediately knew they were thinking of the same thing.
“Look, I’m sure we can train someone before the season starts,” Logan said.
“Yeah, we can train that Sungjo guy,” muttered Jacob. Logan hits his chest.
“No,” said Xavier. Jacob stared at Xavier incredulously.
Xavier stared at the field. “He’s a midfield. I’m sure of that.”
“He’s already in the team?” Jacob asked. Logan hit his arm. “What??”
Just then cheerleaders passed by behind Xavier. Logan smiled and waved at them. The girls were clearly swooned over him. Jacob shook his head and went to sit on another bench where a water jug was. He filled a cup with water. He added more and more until it seemed like he was gulping the whole jug of water just as he catches whispering.
“Have you heard?” said a girl. “Jacob Hansen. Someone saw him, he’s a battler.”
Jacob felt an instant jolt in his spine. He stopped drinking and tightly holding the Styrofoam cup. He listened carefully.
“What was he doing?” asked another girl.
“Dishes. Alfonse said he saw him in a local bar,” said the first girl.
His heart beat went fast. He could feel his ears turning red.
“What’s next? He might become the school’s garbo, How is he even hanging out with the rich jocks?”
He stood up, dropping the cup. He glanced around to look who were the girls talking. They were cheerleaders. They caught his eye and he looked away.
“I have to go,” he told Xavier.
Xavier and Logan both looked at him wonderingly.
“Why? What’s wrong, mate?” said Logan.
“I-It’s nothing,” Jacob muttered, he looked at his feet because he could feel his face was burning.
“Jacob?” Xavier murmured.
“I-I’ll go now,” Jacob said.
Logan tried to grab his arm.
“Just shove off, will you!” Jacob shouted and he walked off. He didn’t lift his head at any point while he was on his way to the locker rooms.
I’m damned. He thought. What’s gonna be worse than this?
His anger was building inside him. He was so focus on his anger he didn’t notice the guy. He bumped into a tall guy he didn’t care to look at. He slammed the things the guy was carrying to the floor.
“Watch where you’re going, drongo!” Jacob shouted. Then he pushed the guy away as he entered the gym lockers.
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