Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Yesterday I spent the day in South Jersey at the South Jersey Saints lacrosse College Prospect Day. Kyle signed up for the event, which included three hours of instruction, drills, and scrimmages in front of an audience of college lacrosse coaches. There were schools from Division I, II, III, and a junior college in attendance for Kyle to impress.

Now, I am brutally honest about my kids’ talent levels. Kyle is a very good lacrosse player – he’s been playing since first grade – but he is not a Division I quality prospect. He can, however, be competitive in a Division II or III school, and this was a nice event to show scouts what he can do.

Kyle, being my son, was a bundle of nerves the entire drive, and through the first half of the day. He was worried he wouldn’t impress anyone, and worse still, his favorite coach – from his freshman year of high school – was in attendance. Kyle did not want to disappoint him especially…

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Make Lacrosse Great Again

The Adelphi University’s men’s lacrosse team has been entering the field on game days to audio of a President Trump speech.

The Adelphi University men’s lacrosse team uses a speech by President Donald Trump as its entrance music, and a video showing the entrance has been viewed more than 730,000 times on Instagram.

“In all of our cities and all of our towns, I make this promise. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”

At this point the players start running onto the field. The speech concludes, “God bless you, and good night. I love you.”

So. Awesome. The speech must be working, because Adelphia is sporting a 14-3 record and is the top seed in the NCAA Division II tournament.

Re-Re-Retired

Yesterday was Kyle’s last lacrosse game of the season. Both varsity (3-10) and JV (4-8) suffered through a sub-par year, and the final game was a welcome sight for many of the players.

Around midday I was pacing in front of the mailbox, desperately hoping my Zoloft fix would arrive. Sadly, it did not, but a letter from Kyle’s school was delivered, and it was addressed to me. I assumed it was either notice that Kyle was receiving an award… or he was being expelled. Neither was the case.

The letter read, in part:

“According to our records, the documentation checked below is missing from your file. Please return the information to the main office by June 15th, 2017, in order for you to continue your ministry to students of our school.”

Six of the eight boxes were checked. It would have been easier to note the forms that were in my file. Now, I’m no detective, but after twenty-one years coaching high school lacrosse, I am intimately familiar with clearances and their lifespans. Most of the boxes checked involved the archdiocesan training concerning child abuse and reporting. All archdiocesan employees must attend a three-hour training session on the subject, which I completed on March 31, 2016.

The training certification lasts three years

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A Midseason Report

Yesterday Kyle’s lacrosse team played its seventh game of a twelve-game season. Kyle (left above) is primarily playing junior varsity this year, thanks in part to the minuscule number of players who came out to play. We have 37 on the roster, but we rarely see that many on game days, and while we do have enough to play games, some players have to play both varsity and JV the same day.

Kyle, a sophomore, has seen some varsity time, but it’s few and far between.

The boy has been playing very well on JV, however. Kyle is the JV top face-off guy, and through seven games he is 18-for-33, which amounts to a 55% win rate. He has also added two assists – a stat which angers him, because he knows he should be putting up better offensive numbers – and runs the offense on the field for the top midfield line.

I’d like to see him score more often, and I definitely want him feeding linemates more, but otherwise I am very happy with his play. The kid is the typical grunt player. He runs through kids to scoop ground balls, he sacrifices his body to draw penalties, and he leads by example. In short, he does all the things I did when I played, except he has much more raw talent that I ever had.

The Crusaders currently have a record of 3-4 overall and 3-2 in their conference. Their next game is Friday afternoon.

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…

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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.