Along ball came in from midfield and Jimmy Becker scored on a diving header. As it turned out, one of Becker's prettiest goals over his four years at Chapelgate Christian was also his biggest.
It came in the team's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship game during his sophomore year against Beth Tfiloh. He scored with 30 minutes left to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead that would stand. Chapelgate successfully defended its title last year, and with an 8-0 league mark this season, the Yellowjackets appear primed for a run at three in a row.
Becker, who started playing soccer when he was 4, is the team's leading scorer, with 15 goals and 10 assists. One of the things he has enjoyed most about the season is playing with his younger brother, Mike, a sophomore.
Becker, a B student, has Lynchburg and Virginia Tech as potential college choices and plans to major in computer science. Along with playing soccer, he is a youth leader at WyldLife, a ministry program that serves middle school children. In the eighth grade, Becker went on a mission to Costa Rica, where he helped build a playground. In the spring, he plans to go on another mission to Guatemala.
What's it going to take to defend your conference title?
This season we knew we were going to be a strong team. So our main goal was to see how well we could bond as a team. That is always a key point with our coach. So we do a lot of extracurricular stuff together off the field, and it definitely shows on the field with the way we click. Two years in a row we've been champions, so we know how it is to be a champion. Every team - even if they're not as good as we are - they're going to play their heart out because they know we're the team to beat. So we've tried to go in with the mind-set that anything can happen.
How does it feel to be a senior in high school?
We're the leaders of the school now. There's 100 students in our grade and that's the biggest senior class ever. So it's hard for all of us to bond because you don't get to know everybody. But when we're all together - like when we had a senior picnic - even if we didn't know them, there was a connection we had. It was great.
What have you learned about leadership this season?
I think the biggest benefit about being a leader is you get as much out of it as you put into it. You have to set an example for the team and give 110 percent all the time. That helps the team a tremendous amount because they're thinking, "This guy is working hard, so we got to do it, too." But then it helps you as a leader because it pushes you even harder. I think as much as the team is getting out of it, I'm getting more because it pushes me to work harder to do everything I can. Everybody connects and works harder and it's just a rewarding feeling.
What are your responsibilities at WyldLife?
What we do is we set up a bunch of games, and then when the speaker comes to talk, he ties in everything we did with a little sermon that keeps it exciting. It's just cool to see the kids enjoy it, and I get to be a part of setting that all up. I love going to WyldLife - it's so fun to see the kids having fun.
What did you get out of your trip to Costa Rica?
Back in eighth grade, I wasn't very much of a kids person. But when I went there and saw these kids - they had nothing. And to see the unconditional love they gave you ... they just loved you for being there. It just opened my eyes to a whole new world because I saw how much I had. I kind of felt guilty about it, and when I came back home, I had a whole new outlook on kids and everything about them.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Just playing soccer in the backyard with my brother was fun. We both enjoy soccer, and it's nice because - even though we may fight a little outside of soccer sometimes - on the field we just connect. All those years of playing together is paying off because we know where each other are and know what we're thinking.
What would you say is the biggest problem in society today?
I think people's selfishness, Christian or not. People can be really selfish about what they have or what they do. When I came back from Costa Rica, you just kind of look around and people are complaining about little things. I was like, "What are you guys doing?" I may be a hypocrite here, but it's definitely like we have so much here there's no reason to be complaining. It's hard to keep that mind-set, but it would be nice if we could. firstname.lastname@example.org