Listen and read-along with this action-packed story by, Jan Cornebise.
Ollie Wendell Ostrich (called Ollie) loved everything about soccer. He loved kicking. He loved running up and down the field at practice. He loved being on the Star team. And most of all, he loved his job as goalie.
His best friend, Rhino Rhinoceros, was also a Star. They played the Suns, the Moons and the Comets.
In the middle of a game with the Comets, a bee circled Ollie. Ollie shoved his head into the sand and could barely hear Rhino shouting, “Come on, Ollie, we can’t play soccer with our goalie’s head in the sand!”
When Ollie peeked out, the bee was gone and so was his team. He found them at the watering hole. But all he could hear was the lapping of water.
Rhino scowled, “Ollie, what happened?” He lowered his huge head with the sharp horn and snorted. “We had to forfeit the game.”
“I’m sorry.” Ollie’s voice shook. A b . . . b . . . bee scared me.” He forced himself to stand taller and promised, “I won’t do it again.”
He had a drink of water and started home. What if that bee shows up again? He thought it out and made a plan. If I think I’m brave, I will be brave.
A few days later the Stars played the Sun team. The Suns had an awesome kicker, Zippo Zebra. His friend Hunter Hyena liked to steal the ball, laughing with glee, and pass it to Zippo. Striped head held high with pride, Zippo would then speed the ball into the goal.
The game began. Ollie didn’t see the bee, but just in case, he thought, I won’t bury my head. I’m brave!
The Suns made the first goal. Then Rhino scored to tie the game. The Suns worked the ball down the field. Just as Zippo kicked the ball toward the goal, a bee buzzed around Ollie’s head.
Down, down, down went his head, right into the sand.
The ball whizzed into the net.
Ollie kept his head buried so long his neck hurt. Then he shook sand from his head and dragged home. Why can’t I be brave?
Rhino was waiting. “Oh Ollie, you did it again! If you stick your head in the sand one more time, the team wants a new goalie.”
“I told myself I was brave, but I guess I didn’t believe me.” said Ollie.
They played the Moons next. The Stars passed. They dribbled. They took their best shots.
The Moons had not scored either. Until . . . the ball was flying straight toward Ollie.
Ollie thought I’m brave and I won’t put my head in the sand. And he didn’t; he just closed his eyes tightly.
The team thought closing his eyes was as bad as burying his head, so that’s how J.J. (short for Jayden Jackal) became goalkeeper.
Ollie watched J.J. intercept each ball as if by magic. Why wasn’t I brave? he thought and hoped no one noticed the tear that fell on his feathers.
He woke up early for the last game of the season. Those Suns are toast, he thought. He gulped down his “Grassios” cereal, grabbed his shin guards and dashed to the soccer field.
Everyone was shouting. “What are we going to do? We can’t play without a goalkeeper!”
“Where’s J.J.?” Ollie asked.
“He’s sick and can’t play!” Rhino said. “How could he be sick today?
The ruckus stopped and all eyes turned to Ollie. They looked at each other. Finally, Rhino said, “Ollie, will you be our goalkeeper today?”
“Sure,” said Ollie.
Kickoff! The action began. Up the field and downfield the teams raced. Dribbling. Passing. Shooting. It was 0 to 0 when Rhino hammered the ball for a goal. Maybe the Stars could win!
In the last play of the game, the Suns dribbled the ball down the field and Harry passed to Zippo. Zippo raised his hoof to kick.
Ollie was ready.
Rhino spotted the bee circling Ollie’s head and said “Oh no, there goes the game!”
“Har, har, har,” laughed Harry, if Ollie saves that ball, I’ll stick my head in the sand!”
Zippo shot the ball toward the corner of the goal.
Ollie thought hard, I’m brave! He zipped to the left, eyes on the ball, spread his wings and engulfed it.
Then Ollie looked at the bee. “Why do you keep flying around my head?”
“Because I like you!” said the bee.
The Stars cheered; the bee flew loops; Harry looked for a soft spot in the field; while Ollie hopped a victory dance, feeling brave and proud.
About the Author
Jan Cornebise is a retired reading teacher who writes and illustrates stories and poems for children. She loves family time, reading, gardening, and travel. Ollie Ostrich was inspired by one of her grandcats. Ollie, the cat, is afraid of many things.
Categories: Audio Stories/Poems