Goalies know how to handle bad days. We dare say it's in their blood. The tension from the challenges a soccer club routinely faces during a season uniquely affects a goalie. They're trying to hold a singular focus, and that fragile thread can break under the moment's weight. Landry Brenbarger has learned how to thrive under tremendous pressure, and he enjoys helping others out because he knows well how bad some moments in a day can become.
Blocking the Shot and Serving it Back.
Since seventh grade and now in eighth, Landry shoots for a goal through which the community wins. He's fast approaching 100 hours of volunteer time by graduation; his objective for giving back to the place and the people who taught him a lesson similar to the last lines from the final listed track on The Beatles' album, Abbey Road. How did that go again? "And in the end / The love you take / Is equal to the love you…[create]?"
Landry wouldn't mind our dated references as, frankly, he’s just too busy to care. When he's not volunteering time prepping the field for the fastpitch association, working the car show, lending a hand at a church yard sale, and collecting Christmastime donations for the Salvation Army as a bellringer, he's on the soccer pitch. He doesn't freeze, even though nearly all the focus is on him. There is no hiding place for a goalkeeper. Just an 8 x 24 foot whole to protect. Since 2015 when he first stepped onto the field, he has repeatedly learned this same lesson. Every season shepherds (pun intended) in a host of defeats. Sometimes players aren't sure how to pick up their spirits, throw them over their shoulders and drag them home, especially after a crushing loss to a rival team. Landry has learned that what makes it worth it, "in the end," are the high points. We're talking tournament wins, a recent milestone for the soccer team that dazzled him with its heightened emotions. Among those high points are moments of clarity in communication between players that seem almost clairvoyant and lead to dramatic, game-changing events that are the stuff of movies. It's this type of good day that Landry wants to make possible for others.
Off the field, he's defended against his fair share of demanding circumstances with the same perspective. While collecting donations for the Salvation Army with his mother in the winter, she suddenly came down with severe chills. After his shift, he found her in the car with the heat on, full blast. Later, she tested positive for COVID and his dad's subsequent COVID infection additionally inflicted him with the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and he spent two months recovering in several hospitals. However, even if one can sometimes surprise and dampen the mood of a goalie, the goalie will sometimes surprise you. After all, a goalkeeper is the only player who can wrap their hands around the problem. Landry was served a devastating circumstance and saved the shot. He refused to be scored upon.
When the most important people in his life were confronted by the worst, he borrowed the shape of their strength. He says he admires how his mother, a teaching assistant at Jefferson Elementary, always comes home with a smile on her face no matter what the day had in store. Landry also craves to inspire others in this way and he tells us he'd take a job as a PE teacher if he doesn't end up playing professional soccer. We know the gratitude from those he'll carry when their days are hardest will place a positive mark upon either path. He'll undoubtedly teach many the love of serving others and to work as a team for that moment when they can hold the collective victory high, enjoined by the roar of cheers from all directions.