New York, Zoo York

While Kyle has finished his high school lacrosse career, Erik’s trek is just beginning. After being designated the unofficial captain of the school’s junior varsity team, he moved up to varsity – as a freshman – and scored a goal in his varsity appearance.

Following in Kyle’s footsteps, Erik tried out and made the 2022 New Jersey Lacrosse Club roster. NJLC merged with the South Jersey Saints – Kyle’s club last year – and their first tournament was the New York Lacrosse Academy’s Summer Showcase. The event was held in Garden City, NY, in scenic Long Island.

The tournament was set for Saturday morning, so we rented a hotel room close to the event and planned to leave Friday afternoon. Google Maps told me it would take FIVE AND A HALF HOURS if I left during rush hour – the trip is normally two and a half hours – so we held off until 6pm.

It still took us nearly three and a half hours to get there. New York City is chock full of idiot drivers…

Continue reading “New York, Zoo York”

Yes, Virginia!

After a subpar weekend for our rooting interests – the Philadelphia Union, Amherst lacrosse and Limestone lacrosse – our last, best hope for victory was the Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA Division I Championship. They didn’t disappoint.

Sitting at the podium for the postgame press conference, Matt Moore and Michael Kraus bobbed their head along as music blared down the hall. They were eager to rejoin their teammates for a celebration eight years in the making.

Moore scored four goals and Virginia won its sixth NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championship, beating defending champion Yale, 13-9, on Monday. “It was a perfect ending to a great story,” Moore said.

[Alex] Rode was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after making 31 stops in the semifinals and final, combining for a .608 save percentage.

Yale was the returning champions, but Virginia went ahead early and never looked back. It was the perfect end to the weekend, and gave us a few smiles in an otherwise hot and humid day.

Busy Weekend

I realize not many people will be headed here on Memorial Day – hell, I’ll barely be around – but I wanted to explain why I’ve been scarce this weekend. Last weekend, we bought tickets to see the Philadelphia Union soccer game. We haven’t been there in a year or two, and Kyle and Erik really wanted to go. Well, we were in luck, because the Union had a buy tickets, get another game’s tickets free deal.

Talen Energy Stadium – above – is gorgeous, and a terrific soccer venue. Sadly, the Union lost Saturday night, but it was Dollar Dog Night, so while the loss was not fun, our stomachs were full. (The Union are still in second place in the east.)

This weekend, the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Finals are back in Philadelphia. (They’re here in 2020 as well.) We never miss the lax championships when they’re in Philly, and we spent Sunday seeing the Division II and Division III title games. Before that, however, we attended Fan Fest, where we had some really cool opportunities.

Like, say, getting our pictures taken with the NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championship trophy.

The boy on the far left is Jake; one of Kyle’s oldest friends, and a former lacrosse player. I considered hugging and kissing the trophy, but I didn’t want to be brutally beaten. There’s more below the fold…

Continue reading “Busy Weekend”

The End, And The Beginning Of An Era

Yesterday was Kyle’s last high school lacrosse game. The season ended on a dreary note, with the team losing 15-0 to Cardinal O’Hara. The team finished with a 4-8 record, and with eight seniors leaving, next year may arguably be worse.

That said, Kyle gave maximum effort at Father Judge. He scored his first varsity goal as a freshman after only eight seconds on the field. The kid would run through walls for his coaches and his team. Kyle was always quiet, leading by example. He would help younger teammates with faceoffs, and was always the kid picking up balls after practice and moving the nets. He never received a special award, never saw the accolades; he did his job and went home.

Kyle finished his four-year career with four goals, eight assists, and more ground balls than I can remember. As a faceoff guy, he earned a career 45.4% faceoff win rate, and those numbers got the attention of many Division II and III colleges.

His younger brother Erik will be a sophomore next year, and Erik was the de facto JV captain this year. The head coach who dislikes Kyle loves Erik, and raves about his performances. Guess where Erik learned all that? Not that Kyle would take credit for it.

Yesterday was a bittersweet event. I know how terribly he was being treated by the coaches, but I also know he still stepped on the field every day and worked his ass off. I’ll miss seeing that every day, but I can still see Erik work his magic.

Plus, I got a photo of them together after yesterday’s game. Both played varsity.

I think this team will be in good hands when Erik is an upperclassman.

The Natural

My middle son Erik (#42) is now a freshman in high school, and while he had three choices of sports to consider – he’s been involved in soccer, lacrosse, and track and field for years – he decided to follow in Kyle’s footsteps and play lacrosse.

The junior varsity team is struggling this year – their record is currently 3-6 – but Erik is arguably the nest player on the squad. You see, Erik has been playing lacrosse since second grade, and many of his teammates are brand new to the sport. Erik’s coaches decided they would make him a captain, because he shows leadership in practice and on game day.

Saturday was supposed to be game day for the varsity and the JV. Unfortunately, half the JV team never showed. The varsity team was also a little light, so the coaches told Erik he would be playing varsity… as a freshman.

Now this is not exactly uncharted territory, as Kyle saw a decent amount of time in varsity games when he was a freshman. In fact, he scored his varsity goal as a freshman. I was confident Erik could hold his own, and I simply told him, “Play your game, and keep your head up.” I was unable to see the game because of work, but shortly after I sat at my desk, I received some good news.

The varsity team, which before Saturday had a record of 2-9, won the game by a score of 12-6. Both Kyle and Erik got a lot of time on the field, and while Kyle always plays well, I was surprised at Erik’s text messages:

Erik: I scored!
Me: Nice! Varsity or JV?

Erik: Varsity. There was no JV game.
Me: Wow, that’s awesome.

Erik: Kyle played really well, and I scooped up four ground balls and took three shots.

While it was a dream to see Kyle score as a freshman, it’s equally exciting to hear about Erik’s first varsity goal. I am very proud of both of them, and hopefully Erik will be playing college ball in a few years.

Lax Player Makes Miraculous Recovery

A Florida lacrosse player walked out of the hospital after an injury which left him partially paralyzed.

A Florida high school lacrosse player who was temporarily paralyzed from the chest down in a hit-from-behind earlier this month walked out of the hospital on his own on Thursday in front cheering supporters.

“When I took those steps, my legs were like aching, and I just remember thinking like, ‘I’m doing it, the pain will go away. I’m walking at least,’” Chase Lalonde, Westminster Academy lacrosse captain said of his first steps in rehab.

Lalonde, who was injured on March 2 and flown to Memorial Regional Hospital for emergency surgery, wasn’t sure if he would ever walk again, WSVN reported. His surgeon, Dr. Andrew Rosenthal said in a press conference that the most serious cases they deal with involve brain or spinal cord injuries.

After weeks of intense physical therapy, Lalonde, wearing his lacrosse jersey, stood to the chants of “Pack your bags! Go out the door! No more rehab anymore!” and walked toward the door. His teammates, who said they initially didn’t realize the seriousness of his injury, were there to witness him regain what they thought he may have lost. (H/TJim)

Lacrosse players are, by and large, incredibly tough – both the boys and girls. It’s not surprising Chase motivated himself to get walking again, and it’s a great story in a sea of awfulness.

The Most Laxerful Time Of The Year

Kyle (Left) Going To Work During A Faceoff

Kyle and Erik’s high school lacrosse season officially began yesterday with their home opener. As a freshman, Erik is playing on the JV team, and he did well for his first high school contest. He played attack as well as midfield, and barely missed scoring what would be the tying goal.

Sadly, the JV team lost, 2-1, but Erik did well.

Kyle’s day was more trying. They lost by a score of 5-4 to a team they should have dominated, but the new head coach felt the best way to win a home opener is stack the varsity squad with underclassmen and new players.

Kyle got in a good number shifts, but he took zero – ZERO – face-offs. That role went to a brand new player, who finished the day winning only five face-offs out of thirteen. Judging by what I saw of the other team’s face-off guy – Kyle would have doubled those wins. Easily.

Obviously, Kyle was pissed after the game. The team lost, he was wide open a number of times and his teammates refused to pass to him, and he was unable to get in any face-off work – which is why the University of Dallas wanted him.

I blame myself for a lot of this, because I disagreed with the previous coach on many things – most notably the fact he was a terrible coach – and this new clown is continuing the grudge. Either that, or he wants the team to lose games, because no one in their right mind would keep the statistically best face-off player on the sidelines. It is inconceivable to me a four-year senior, a kid who has done everything he’s been asked, to be treated this poorly.

So let’s recap. Kyle was recruited heavily by a Division II program and two Division III programs, and saw looks from many other II and III schools. He was one of two face-off guys for the South Jersey Saints, one of the best club lacrosse programs in New Jersey. Plus, he was asked to submit his name to the Saints because they are interesting in adding Kyle as an assistant face-off coach this summer.

But for some reason, Kyle is not good enough to take face-offs at a school which has three combined wins since 2016. Seems legit.

The Old College Try

So, this is something I never had to personally deal with before. While waiting for the kids to get out of school, I checked the University of Dallas’ athletics site. Specifically, the lacrosse page, since Kyle had been heavily recruited by the head coach. This is the headline which greeted me:

[Redacted] Resigns as Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach; Returns to Lake Erie College

Panic immediately set in, because the coach was so high on Kyle, and assured him he could see playing time as a freshman. While I played lacrosse in college and coached for more than twenty years, I never had to go through the recruiting process. What did this mean? Is Kyle still being recruited by UD? Will the new coach even be interested in him now?

After spending most of the day stressing out, I sent an email to the athletic director, who we met on the visit. Thankfully, he responded immediately:

Absolutely no change in status recruiting-wise. You are still a valued prospective member of this team. I will be taking over all of the recruiting until we find our replacement. We are going to move very quickly in the process of hiring and I will let you know just as soon as I am able once we’ve made the hire.

Thank. God. Kyle’s choices are narrowed to three schools, and Dallas appeared to be the best fit, both academically and athletically. If nothing else, we were put at ease by the AD’s email, and we’ll have a wait and see approach.

Fall Ball Is Underway

When I began playing lacrosse in college, the season was limited to the spring. We basically started practicing in February and finished up in late April or early May. Thirty years later, lacrosse is a year-round event, and Kyle (left, in green) and Erik’s fall tournament season began Saturday afternoon in Princeton Junction, New Jersey.

Kyle and Erik play for the South Jersey Saints, which recently was absorbed by 3D Garden State. 3D is a nationwide lacrosse corporation which fields teams from Oregon to Texas to Maryland. Most 3D teams are fantastic, and while Kyle and Erik’s teams are competitive, they’re also new.

Saturday’s tournament did not go as well as hoped, and both their teams were routinely crushed. It didn’t help their normal coaches weren’t leading them this weekend – South jersey had tryouts Saturday for younger players – and new coaches with new players is usually a struggle.

It also didn’t help Kyle’s foot is in a boot after injuring his heel last week during practice. Kyle said he was in a lot of pain, but I convinced him to at least try to play the first game. Kyle took most of the faceoffs, and played well, considering, but he was unable to play any of the final three games.

This was Erik’s first lacrosse tournament, and while it was a challenge, her played well. Erik is a freshman who was playing on a mixed team of freshmen and sophomores, and he did well against older kids. Either way, it gives them both more experience to ready them for the spring high school season.

Oh, and Erik is following in his older brother’s footsteps: taking faceoffs.

Happy, Texas

By the time you read this, I’ll be sitting in Philadelphia International Airport, waiting to embark on a flight to Dallas, Texas.

Kyle and I will be spending the weekend visiting the University of Dallas, which is recruiting him for their lacrosse program. It will be Kyle’s second of – thus far – three college visits – one Division II and two Division III programs – all of which want him to play.

We will be meeting the head coach, some players, and visiting with someone from admissions Friday. Kyle will be able to spend the night with a few players Friday into Saturday, and Saturday we may be able to watch an informal practice, as well as touring the campus. Kyle is excited, mostly because he really likes this coach and cannot wait to see Texas. (It helps he’s also a huge Dallas Stars fan.)

The school itself comes highly rated, and is the fifth most conservative college in the state. The last thing I want is to send Kyle to a leftist indoctrination camp. Kyle is still undecided on his major, but I’m sure he’ll succeed no matter what he chooses.

As for me, I’ve never been to Texas, but I’ve heard good things.

P.S. – This is going to be a working vacation, so I’ll do my level best to post regularly. We’ll be coming back to this awful town Sunday evening. Wish us luck.