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Mint City: We're All Here For Each Other

by Jay Landskroener

In 2006, I thought my life was great. I was in a rock band, I worked at a jet ski rental place, and I was attending a community college on the Outer Banks. I was living my greatest life.

Then I was accepted to UNC-Charlotte. I would be moving west in August, and I had dreams and goals that school would help me fulfill, but I had never lived in a “big” city before. I was used to the ocean breeze and a laid back lifestyle, but I was excited about city living and the new culture I was about to experience. My world was changing, but I entered into that change with open arms and the most positive attitude. 

But the universe had other plans.

Within a year, I knew my life was different, harder. I missed people I knew. I missed seeing water every single day. I felt different from all of the friends I had made. I was young, but I started to believe that I couldn't make the world a better place anymore. I started to feel like I was nothing more than a burden. My dreams and ambitions were falling to emotion and deep negative thought. 

By spring 2007, I was in a deep, deep depression. And I knew I was depressed. I knew I was affecting people that I knew. I knew I needed to get out of it. But none of my passions or hobbies were helping; I could not find that feeling that makes your heart race, where emotion overcomes your body and mind. I couldn’t find emotion at all.

So, I looked for help. I went to a doctor. I saw a psychiatrist. I took medicine. I still sunk. But I was trying. Even though I knew I was in a low, deep, sad place, I always thought and hoped and knew that I could and would get out. But I could never see what would lift me out.

And then one morning, I turned on the TV and put on Fox Soccer Channel. Manchester United was playing Aston Villa on the morning of April 5, 2007. (Yes, I had to look up the date while writing this.) It was a fairly unassuming match. But then something interesting happened: A back pass to the keeper in the 18, which led to an indirect free kick in the box.

Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up and scored a scorcher past Friedel and the entire Villa roster. Villa then took a 2-1 lead before 16-year-old Federico Macheda would come onto the pitch. Shortly after that, Ronaldo scored another. And then, United’s third goal shocked some emotion into me.

After a handful of poor plays getting the ball into the box, Ryan Giggs coolly directed the ball to lead Macheda to the near post. Macheda, with a defensive back shadowing his potential run to the near post, then used his heel to create misdirection and cut the ball back inside. With one more touch, the kid scored a goal in his professional debut.

United were victors. The stadium went berserk. 

And I went nuts too. For the first time in more than a year, I felt passionate emotion for something. I celebrated, my roommates woke up, and I eventually calmed down. 

I remained depressed for quite some time, but I found solace in sport. I'd join with others to watch English matches in the morning or USMNT matches when they were available. The camaraderie found among sports fans helped lift the funk that regularly plagued my life.

This month, this spring, we are all struggling to understand the world. Some of us have kids (of all ages) that have not left the house and are going stir crazy. Some of us are completely alone, wandering the depths of the internet wondering how we got here in the first place. Others are concerned for their own health, for their own lives.

Anger, frustration, fear, and even boredom can take over. And none of us currently have the distraction of sports, the outlet that can lift the funk from our lives.

So we all need to be here for each other however we can. We even have direct connections to the entire planet via the internet and can communicate better than ever before. Our excuses are few.

I will always hope that no one would ever get to that place I was in, in an all-consuming depression and unable to feel emotions. And I will always hope that the Mint City Collective can be a community where people know they have someone to talk to, someone who can help. If you have other groups to go to, that's fine too, but we need to be a group that helps each other. Now. 

Even without the distraction of sports actively being played, our common passion brings us together. And having people there to be with (even online) can bring out the best in people, can lift us, unite us, help us.

Finding fellow soccer fans did that for me. So connect with your people over soccer or music or football or books or agriculture or whatever other passion or enjoyment you have, and you can and will get out of this strange world event. The world will get back to whatever normal is someday.

Don't let depression or fear or any emotion get the best of you and allow you to slip. I am here for you. We are here for you. And there will be positivity and fun at the end of all of this. 

For anyone who has not experienced this deep dark hole, that's fine. Just remember that it’s not hard to be a good person, welcoming to those you don't necessarily know, who might be going through a more difficult situation than they're letting on. 

It is very easy to make a big impact by being positive and encouraging. Just check in, say hi, ask how someone is doing. Some people just need something so simple, and I know there's a lot of us who need just that right now. 

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