How Playing Intramural Soccer is Like Getting Your MBA

(From left to right, top row: Alessandro Longhi, Brooks Lindsay, Ivan Gonzalez , Hank Montalbano, Jordan Wall, Jonah Rankin. Bottom row: John Stewart, David Kim, Ricardo Limon, Mike Vint, Andrews Bryant, Travis King. Teammates not pictured: Tanay Chaturvedi, Zach Stevens, Sean Wales, Dan Gardner.)

About the author: David Kim (above) is a second-year MBA student at Foster. He’s currently an operations intern at United Airlines. Before coming to Foster, he worked for Harvard Business Publishing in Cambridge, MA.

Winning feels good. But losing stays with you. You remember losing. You remember what happened, how it felt, and the countless “what-ifs” that run through your head. This is exactly what I experienced when our Foster MBA intramural soccer team’s season came to an abrupt end in the semi-final round of the playoffs.

We were a rag-tag team. Out of shape, but experienced. We had “old-man strength”. It was the first time we had played together but our chemistry and confidence grew after each game—especially after come-from-behind wins. We went into the playoffs confident in our abilities and ready to take on the best of the University of Washington. We faced the team that gave us our only loss during the regular season.

We dominated all game, yet the score was even. Soon, the referee blew his whistle. It was time for penalty kicks.

Penalty kicks are the worst. I’d rather flip a coin to determine a winner than go into PKs. It’s the most nerve racking, anxiety-inducing way to end a game. Nothing comes close — except walking into your first finance midterm, or any one of Charles Hill’s strategy class.

“Who wants to take one?” I asked.

At that specific point in time, every player looked around. Within 10 seconds, we had self-selected and sorted our order. I was third. I don’t recall the outcome of the penalty kicks that occurred before my turn, but I knew if I missed we would lose. I picked up the ball and walked towards the goal. I placed the ball on the spot and walked back, starring down the keeper.

My heart was racing. I took a few deep breaths to help settle me. Then, I ran up and kicked the ball.

The opposing goal-keeper dove to his left. I kicked it to his right. But I did not kick it wide enough. The ball went right into his legs.

I missed. The game was over. The feeling of letting my teammates down left an extremely bitter taste in my mouth. I never wanted to feel this way again.

There are a lot of similarities in playing a team sport and what you’ll experience in your first year of business school. You’ll meet a bunch of people and develop “chemistry” with them. Every person will have their strengths and weaknesses, their role within the team, and their availability on any given week. There will be wins and there will be losses. But most importantly, you’ll never want to let your teammate down. When you do, you’ll learn from it adjust next time.

I’m not scared to be in that position again. In fact, I look forward to it. I will embrace that moment. It is with that mentality that I look forward to enter into my final MBA year, and the next intramural season with my teammates.*

*We are actively recruiting new players, if you’d like to join contact me for a trial and a potential multi-beer contract with Paccar Saint Germain FC (name TBD).