Unretired

So remember that post back in December when I explained I was re-retired from coaching? Well… scratch that.

I received a call last week from Kyle’s new lacrosse coach asking if I was able to help out. I wasn’t really keen on the idea at first, because of the way the high school treats lacrosse as a whole – spoiler alert: like crap – but after talking to the coach, I decided to climb aboard.

Today will be my first day back to the school, and hopefully last week’s snow will be gone from the field. Ironically, Kyle won’t be there today, because he is home sick with a nasty stomach virus that has hit everyone in the family – save for me.

So wish me luck – again. Let’s see how long this tenure lasts.

Re-Retired

hung-up-whistleFor the past year or so I have had the pleasure of coaching my oldest son’s high school lacrosse team. I came back because the head coach needed a few more hands on deck, breaking a six-year retirement.

I am now re-retired.

The team’s head coach – who, at 32 years old forgot more about lacrosse than I ever knew – accepted a job at one of New Jersey’s best lacrosse high schools. The position comes with more money, better facilities, a supportive administration, and players who really want to play the game.

Sadly, much of that is missing on my son’s team.

The head coach was making peanuts – I think, literally – and I was not being paid at all. I was strictly on a volunteer basis. The facilities at Kyle’s school are decent, but they cannot compare with the Jersey school. The administration at Kyle’s school despises lacrosse, and we were offered little of no support. Finally, the upperclassmen on Kyle’s team were a mix of good and godawful. Kyle’s class is very dedicated, but many of the older kids are there only to receive a jersey.

So the head coach did what any sane person would do; he accepted the job at the powerhouse school. He called me personally to let me know, then apologized to me and Kyle. I feel badly for Kyle and the kids who wanted to be there, because his head coach was brilliant. Now I worry the school will hire someone on the cheap, or worse, someone who does not know – or love – the game.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in the stands from here on out. I’ll miss coaching, but at least I officially have twenty years of coaching on the books.

Only L. Ron Hubbard Saves More

milhouse-in-goalIn preparation for the upcoming lacrosse season, Kyle’s high school team – of which I am an assistant coach – has been practicing from 7-9 pm on Monday and Wednesday nights. I refer to this as practice, but in reality it is just the kids split into teams and scrimmaging for two hours.

As mentioned before, I and the other coaches occasionally play; mostly when we are craving a huge slice of humble pie.

On Wednesday night, we were short a goalie, so the head coach asked if we could bring in goalie equipment. Kyle had some from when he played in grade school, so I brought it to the scrimmage. Before we left, Mrs. Earp issued two general orders: 1. Kyle is not to play goaltender, and 2. I am not to play goaltender…

Continue reading “Only L. Ron Hubbard Saves More”

Dead Man’s Chest

kung-pow-enter-the-fist-punch-through-chestLacrosse practice Wednesday night was an interesting affair. Kyle has a great night offensively, most of the team showed up, and no players were injured.

Coaches? Not so much.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I suited up with the other – younger – coaches and played in the scrimmages. Things were going along swimmingly until I decided to try and stop a shot. One of our better shooters was winding up, and I didn’t want him to score, so I stepped in front of him. Immediately I realized that was a mistake. The kid was maybe ten feet away and as he shot I tried to pivot, letting my back take the force of the lacrosse ball.

(For the uninitiated, a lacrosse ball is made of rubber and has the weight and consistency of a baseball. Being hit by one is not a pleasant feeling.)

As an old man, I was unable to pivot quickly enough, and the shot struck me in the left side of the chest, right about where the heart is located. Luckily I don’t have one of those. I also was not wearing shoulder pads, so the only thing between the ball and me was a t-shirt.

The force of the shot pushed me back a step but it took a moment for the pain to set in. When it did, I dropped to one knee, shrieked a few “sentence enhancers,” and wept for an hour and a half. The play was still going on, so I had to pick myself up and continue playing defense. Like my sex life, I was inadequate. At the next stoppage, I walked to the sidelines, put a sub in for me, and spent the rest of the game hoping I would not die from the impact.

Two days later my chest is still killing me and it has turned a lovely shade of purple. If you don’t see any new posts for a few days, it is because I perished from my injuries. Leave the flowers and get out.

Really Old School

Kyle Playing MidfieldKyle’s high school lacrosse team is in the middle of fall ball – a six-week lacrosse league created to hone the athlete’s skills. Being an assistant coach, I have attended most of the games, and we’re currently 3-1. Kyle, for his part, is playing well, if you disregard last Sunday’s game when he got thrown out for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It was his first ever major penalty.

Since fall ball began, we have also had informal evening workouts at school. Last night, I suited up with the other two coaches to join in the team’s scrimmage. It went as well as you would expect.

This was the first time since 2010 I played in an actual game, and while I played lacrosse for Saint Joseph’s University – Jesus, 25 years ago – you would never know it. I was slow, I couldn’t read the defense or the offense, and while my catching was pretty good, my shots were godawful. By the end of the night, I earned a lousy two assists. Kyle finished with a goal and five assists.

My ego took a giant hit last night, and forced me to accept the ugly fact I’m getting old. I am now 47, but for some reason, that age doesn’t register with me. Maybe because I am still pretty active, or maybe because I am suffering from Alzheimer’s. I could have used the excuse I was playing kids thirty years younger than me, but I was brutally honest; I told my players I sucked last night.

I still plan on playing during these indoor workouts because I love playing lacrosse, but not being able to play the way I did in college is a depressing proposition.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am headed for whiskey. And yes, I am well aware it is 10am.

North Carolina Wins Lacrosse Titles

North Carolina Lacrosse Wins Championship

The North Carolina Tar Heels won their first Men’s Lacrosse Championship in 25 years Monday, beating the number-one seeded Maryland Terrapins. They weren’t my rooting interest, but damn if the Heels didn’t earn the victory.

The Tar Heels, the first unseeded team to win a national title in 43 years, defy a lot of things — logic and the odds, for starters — and they really don’t care. And that’s really what defines them: a beautiful indifference that culminated in their first national championship in 25 years.

“Pressure is a funny thing,” head coach Joe Breschi said. “We had zero pressure. We were picked the lowest we’ve ever been picked in the eight years since I’ve been here and last in the ACC, and these guys were on a mission.”

The winners? North Carolina, making UNC the first school since Princeton in 1994 to win both the men’s and women’s titles.

Yeah, the women’s team beat Maryland for the lacrosse title the day before the men’s game.

UNC Women's Lacrosse Champions

Suffice to say, it was a good weekend for Chapel Hill.

Fantastic Four

Final Four Bracket

Kyle, Erik, and I spent our Saturday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Philly was hosting the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships, so we grabbed tickets to the Division I Final Four. We’ve gone to championship weekend in 2013 and 2015, and this is the last time Philly will be hosting until at least 2019.

I may have completely disregarded slightly bent my surgeon’s orders by driving before Monday, but nothing was keeping me from the games. My stubbornness bit me in the apple-shaped bottom, however, because it was crazy hot, and I underestimated the amount of walking I had to do. I did not feel well before the games, and felt worse afterward, but I survived.

No thanks to a punk kid who accidentally elbowed my in the stitches…

Continue reading “Fantastic Four”

Hurls Before Swine

Angry Guinea PigLacrosse is a tough, sometimes violent sport, which brings out the best in players and their teammates. There are bonds created which last a lifetime. For one Michigan high school, however, those bonds may be of the leg shackle variety.

In an alleged case of one lacrosse team’s bonding taken to a bloody extreme, however, the violence was not aimed at humans but at a small animal, possibly a guinea pig.

At least 10 members of a high school lacrosse team in Michigan have been questioned about the possible guinea pig slaying. A few students purportedly painted their faces with the animal’s blood. The Grosse Ile High School lacrosse players, an unnamed source says, killed the animal prior to a match earlier in May. Whatever the Grosse Ile Red Devils were hoping to achieve, it failed, as the rival Dexter Dreadnaughts won 13 to 6.

Several, but not all, of the lacrosse players were involved in a “sacrifice” of the animal, going as far to claim that a few smeared their faces with its remains; one member of the Red Devils ingested the animal’s blood. (H/T – Loki)

I’m sorry, but that is way beyond the pale. The worst thing we ever tried this year was blessing out sticks with chicken bones… oh, and sacrificing a beautiful blonde woman to our Ape-God.

Relax, she died quickly and painlessly.

The Least Wonderful Time Of The Year

Kyle Playing VarsityFather Judge High School’s lacrosse season is officially over. We lost last night’s game by a score of 8-5, and thanks to some inopportune wins by our conference foes, we are now out of the playoffs.

Kyle’s JV team finished with a record of 10-5-1, and Varsity finished at 7-11. For his part, Kyle finished the season with one varsity goal, three JV assists, and he won 29 of 59 face-offs. I’d call that a pretty successful debut.

As for me, it was nice getting back into coaching, and while I bitched about it constantly to Mrs. Earp, I already miss it. The head coach is planning summer workouts, and we hope to play in a fall and winter league this year. That is, if I don’t get a pink slip in the next two weeks.

I mean, I didn’t take a salary this season, so they can’t exactly fire me, right?

True Coaching Stories

Lacrosse Beer HappinessKyle’s lacrosse season is winding down, and as is usually the case, the upperclassmen have become immersed in the end of year “slide.” This has been especially prevalent in our nine seniors, who have always been there in body, but not necessarily there in mind. Their senior prom was held last Thursday, and we coaches tried to accommodate them as best we could. We held an early practice on Thursday, and gave the entire team off Friday, with the caveat that they all showed up for Saturday night’s non-conference game.

Apparently that was too much to ask.

You see, for some reason, our seniors did not only go out after the senior prom, but they made a weekend out of it. Five our our nine seniors – every one a starter – took their prom dates to the Jersey shore this weekend. There they were given ample time to get sloppy drunk, impregnate their girlfriends, and reflect upon their dismal futures before returning to the lacrosse field…

Continue reading “True Coaching Stories”