When I was in middle school, I played on a recreational soccer team. I was incredibly introverted, a bookworm and rather slow. Though I preferred “defense” and never got close to the goalposts, I loved soccer, laughing with my teammates, feeling my body’s strength and growing comfortable with myself.

Those couple of seasons of soccer led me to a lifelong love of comradery and competition — a passion I’ve passed along to my own daughter.

I’ve been thinking about these experiences as the Olympic torch burns in Rio de Janeiro.

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