“Devin, coming your way!” Jessi had just intercepted a pass from the other team, and two Panthers defenders were hot on her tail. I was closest, but I was hemmed in by Panthers too. She was desperately looking around the field to see who was open, but no one was.
At her words, I managed to slip by and free myself to receive Jessi’s pass.
As soon as I got the ball, though, the defenders swarmed me. I searched the field, frantic for a Kicks teammate to pass the ball to. This had been a tough game. The Kicks were down five players because Grace, my co-captain, and some of the other eighth-grade players had been suspended. The score was 0–0, and we were in the last quarter. We had fought hard to protect our goal, but scoring chances had been slim.
If we got this score, we could win the game!
I eyed Frida. She usually plays defense but was pressed into playing midfield because we were missing players. She was open and in striking distance of the goal.
Our eyes locked, and I could see Frida’s widening with fear. Frida is a fantastic defensive player. She defends our goal from strikers as if she were a leprechaun protecting her pot of gold. However, Frida was out of her comfort zone. Scoring opportunities were not in her bag of tricks. But I knew she had it in her. She just had to act like an offensive player!
Frida’s skill on the soccer field comes from her acting talent. She recently had a starring role in the TV movie Mall Mania and was also in a bunch of commercials. Pretty cool, huh? Now each game we play, Frida pretends to be a different character. The Kicks have had on the field everyone from an Amazon warrior to a fairy princess to an army general. It sounds crazy, but it works. Frida’s acting has given the Kicks an advantage in many games. And maybe it could now!
“You got this, Frida!” I said as I passed the ball to her, just as a Panthers defender tried to kick it away from me.
I watched as Frida expertly caught the pass, dribbled the ball closer to the goal, and then feigned a kick to the right. A second later she had planted the ball solidly in the back left corner of the net, while the goalie jumped for empty air to the right.
1–0! I looked at the clock. We only had nine seconds left in the game. Frida had just sunk the only goal in the
game, which would give the Kicks the victory over the Panthers!
The crowd cheered when the ref called time. I saw Grace, Megan, Anjali, Jade, and Gabriela, the eighth-grade players who had been suspended for this game, on their feet and applauding for us. A rivalry with another team had almost gone too far, and Grace and her friends had planned to spray-paint Kicks-blue flowers on the field of the opposing team, the Roses, to send a message. I had tried to talk them out of it, but they were caught on the field by the Roses’ coach right before they could paint the flowers.
They all regretted what had happened and were really disappointed in themselves that they had let the rest of the Kicks down by being suspended. They would have felt even guiltier if we had lost, but luckily we didn’t, thanks to Frida!
Hands slapping me on the back in congratulations brought my attention back to the field and my teammates.
“Glad you got the ball to Frida, Devin.” Jessi grinned. Her springy curls bounced as she landed next to me, still filled with energy from the game.
“It was thanks to you. That was a great steal,” I said to my friend, and her smile grew bigger.
“You know, I’m starting to think we’re a really great team,” Jessi said, and I laughed.
“Yeah, I’m beginning to get that feeling myself.” I grinned back.
“Devin!” Frida bounded over, her brown eyes widening dramatically as she stopped in front of me, placing a hand on her heart. “My first goal ever, and it’s all thanks to you! I pledge my loyalty to you, from this day forth.”
Um, did I mention Frida can be a bit dramatic? I guess it comes with the territory when you are an actor. When I lived in Connecticut, I didn’t know anybody who was a TV star. It was just one of the many ways life was different in Southern California, like not having snow in the winter and always living under a drought warning.
“You don’t need to do that,” I told her. “You’ve always been an awesome defender. Now you just showed us you have the chops to score, too.”
Frida shook her head from side to side. “No, it goes way beyond that. It’s you, Devin. You’ve been good luck to me ever since we first met. Remember how I was terrible at soccer and didn’t want to play?”
“How could I forget? You just sat on the field reciting Shakespeare. You didn’t even try,” I reminded her.
“Well, you were the one who helped me combine my passion for acting with my love of soccer,” Frida said. “But I’ve been thinking. It goes way beyond that.”
“Goes way beyond what?” Emma, the Kicks goalie, said. She jogged up to us with Zoe, a midfielder. They’re some of the best friends I’ve made since I moved to California, along with Jessi and Frida.
Emma, one of the tallest girls on the team, stood about a foot taller than Zoe. Her long black hair was pulled into
a ponytail, while Zoe’s short strawberry blond bob was held back with a blue headband.
“I have finally come to realize that Devin was sent here, from Connecticut, to bring me good luck in all my endeavors,” Frida stated.
Jessi shot me a look that was half eye roll, half surprise. “Huh?” she asked Frida.
“I think that Devin brought all of us luck when she moved here,” Zoe jumped in. “The Kicks were the last-place team in the league, but thanks to Devin, we made it to the championships.”
Frida sighed, her hand still on her heart. “It goes way beyond the soccer field, dear Zoe.”
I could tell that both Zoe and Emma were trying to stifle giggles. Frida was really on a roll now.
“You see,” she continued, not realizing her friends were holding back laughter, “when I got the callback for my second audition for Mall Mania, who was there? Devin! When I passed that science test—the one my mom said if I got a bad grade on, I would not be able to go on any more auditions—who was sitting next to me in class? Devin!”
I shrugged. “Yeah, I do sit next to you in science class. What does that have to do with anything?”
But Frida ignored me and kept right on with her monologue. “And when I had the pizza commercial audition, who told me to wear red, which turned out to be Chef Antonia’s favorite color, which got me the job? You did, Devin!”
I vaguely remembered sitting in Frida’s bedroom, with her frantically holding up different tops, and pointing at one and saying, “That one.” But I didn’t think that made me good luck.
“Yeah, I guess,” I said, at a total loss for words.
Frida spread her arms wide open. “The bottom line is this, Devin. You are my good luck charm.”
“Devin Burke, a human rabbit’s foot!” Jessi joked, causing Emma and Zoe to crack up. “Do you come in pocket size?”
Since Frida was all wound up, she ignored Jessi’s jokes and kept going as she pointed both her arms at me. “So you must, must come with me to my next commercial audition. It’s this Tuesday after school. You cannot say no. I need you there. If you are, I know I’ll get that part!”
I thought it over. I didn’t know if I believed in good luck charms, but we didn’t have practice this Tuesday, and I had never been to something like a commercial audition before. It sounded fun.
“If it helps you, of course I’ll come,” I told her. “I just have to ask my mom first.”
Frida whipped her head around, looking at the soccer stands. “Mrs. Burke, yoo-hoo, it’s me, Frida!” she called out before racing toward my mom, who was standing there with my dad and little sister, Maisie. They were all wearing Kicks-blue T-shirts to show their support.
“Okay, Lucky Charms,” Jessi said as we watched Frida in an earnest conversation with my mom. “I’m going to
start booking time with you. I have a killer algebra test on Monday.”
“Ooh, can I have a lock of your hair? If I carry it around in my pocket, maybe it will bring me luck too?” Emma teased.
I threw my hands up in the air. “Come on, you all know what it’s like when Frida gets an idea in her head. The best thing to do is just go along until she tires herself out.”
“I think you’re the one who is going to need the good luck,” Zoe joked.
I wasn’t worried. How bad could tagging along on one commercial audition be, anyway? It wasn’t like anyone was going to be paying attention to me or anything.