I played four years of Division-1 soccer. That means I had four years to become a weathered expert listener of the national anthem of the United States of America. That means I had four years as an on-field spectator to observe this fine art of the Star Spangled Banner vocalist. That means I had heard such a hodgepodge assortment of vocals that I thought I had heard it all. I had heard recordings the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Faith Hill. I had heard little children as tall as my waist. I had heard choir college students. I had heard adults. Oftentimes I sang along, the speakers drowning out my repulsive, atrocious voice. Oftentimes we held hands on-field and bowed our heads. Oftentimes I was moved, the ringing out of our national anthem motivating and preparing me for the ninety grueling, demanding minutes looming ahead of me.
After four years, after over one hundred games in scorching heat, stinging rain, and glacial cold, I was ready. After ecstatic wins, demoralizing losses, and so many remarkable memories, I was ready. I stood on the field, my teammates' hands clasping my own, one of eleven girls in a streak of green across our home field. Across my home field. I was ready.
And then the singer began:
Oh, say can you seeeeee by da dawn's ear-wy wight,
What so proud-wy we hai-wed at da twi-wight's wast gweam-ing?
Whose bwoad stwipes and bwight staws thu da pew-i-wous fight,
O'er da wam-pawts we watched were so gaw-want-wy stweam-ing?
And da wocket's wed gware, da bombs buwst-ing in aiw,
Gave pwoof thwough da night that our fwag was still there.
Oh, say does dat staw-spang-wed bannerrr yet wave
O'er da wand of da fwee and da home of the bwaaaaaave...
Talk about motivation. We failed miserably in attempts to repress our laughter and our quivering shoulders.