So, This Is Pretty Great

Erik’s high school lacrosse season began toward the end of March, and while everyone assumed the season would turn out to be another mediocre year, the Crusaders have been totally outplaying their competition.

And by that I mean, they are currently 6-0.

Erik called this at the beginning of the year. He looked over the schedule and said, “I think we’re going to win a lot of games this year.” (Insert Dad eyeroll here). I reminded him there are some powerhouses in the league, but he continued to stand his ground. The team has been very confident, and it shows on the field.

No one was more shocked than I. That’s not a shot at the team, per se. They have a nice crop of good players this year – especially Erik and his two fellow face-off guys – but the competition in their conference is pretty impressive.

So far, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents 80-19, and during the game against Cardinal O’Hara, the three faceoff guys won 24 out of 25 face-offs. Erik won 5 out of 6.

Erik has ten games left, and of those, five of them are against very tough teams. They likely won’t go undefeated, but with any luck, they will earn their best record in years. It’s a nice change from finishing .500 – or worse – every year, especially with college scouts looking at him.

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.

A Golden Opportunity

Kyle’s lacrosse season opener was Monday, and we were pleasantly surprised to see him on the first midfield line, starting ahead of some seniors. Kyle shared faceoff duties with the senior captain, which bodes well for his college prospects. (Faceoff specialists are in high demand with college programs, and as one of two faceoff guys, Kyle is in a good position.)

The team shot itself in the foot many times, mostly with terrible, preventable penalties. Then, in the second half, the senior captain was tripped, landed one his shoulder, and had to leave the game.

Yeah.

Kyle took the rest of the team’s faceoffs, and ended up winning two out of five, which isn’t bad. Sadly, the team lost by a score of 7-2, but Kyle played well for his part. Kyle was then informed he had to take faceoffs during the JV game because he was the only other person on the team who could do it.

Yesterday the coaches came to Kyle at practice and told him the senior broke his collarbone, and done for the season. They then told Kyle he was now top dog, and would be taking all faceoffs for the rest of the season. After practice, I drove him home, and he was incredibly stressed out. He claimed he can’t carry the team, and wasn’t good at the senior faceoff guy. Kyle spent the rest of the night stressing about today’s game, until his former coach – who coaches his summer league team – sent a text message saying, “You’ll be fine. You’re ready.”

I tried to impress upon Kyle what a great opportunity this is. He can tell recruiters he had to step up as a junior and become a leader on the field. If his faceoff win percentage hovers around 50% this season, he’ll be gold.

Now if we can just get him past the nerves…

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

Continue reading “Re-Re-Retired”

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.

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?

Mission Impossible

Kyle Playing MidfieldAfter being retired from coaching high school lacrosse for six – glorious – years, I was pulled back in to help out Kyle’s team. I was not the only new face, however. This is Kyle’s coach’s first foray into head coaching. While he coached on every level, this is his first head coaching position.

His work was cut out for him. Kyle’s school has had a rough couple of years, and the athletic director told the head coach we were expected to win three games out of eighteen. Ryan, the head coach, said the team’s three goals this season were to have a record of .500 or better, make the playoffs, and beat our rival – my Alma mater, Archbishop Ryan.

I giggled when I heard those goals because with this team, I figured we had no shot…

Continue reading “Mission Impossible”

Raising The Bar

Tom Cruise CocktailKyle’s lacrosse team holds an annual fundraiser to help pay for the team banquet, equipment costs, and other incidentals. This year’s event was held Saturday night at Harrington’s Irish Pub. As a member of the coaching staff, I not only had to attend, but also appear as a “celebrity bartender.”

The only time my name should ever be mentioned in the same sentence as the word “celebrity” is on my arrest report for stalking Karen Gillan, but I digress.

My three-hour celebrity bartender experience was a lot like the movie Cocktail, and I was Tom Cruise – save for the stunning good looks, charming personality, and impeccable hygiene.

Hollywood has always romanticized tending bar, and since I have never tried it, I bought into the stereotype. A packed bar with fabulous babes hitting on you all night isn’t really work; it’s a vacation, right?

Eh, not so much…

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Storybook

Kyle Verus Westtown

Kyle’s lacrosse team played Valley Forge Military Academy yesterday. VJMA does not have a JV team, so it was only a varsity contest. That said, all the JV players were required to attend. Kyle is a swing player. He made both the varsity and JV teams, but had not suited for a varsity game yet.

VFMA is a decent team, but they were shorthanded yesterday. Our guys came out strong, and after the first quarter, we were up by a score of 8-1. Before the start of the second quarter, the head coach turned to Kyle and asked, “Do you have your equipment with you?”

Both Kyle and I looked at the coach and thought, “Are you serious?”

Kyle said yes, the coach gave him the keys to the locker room and he sprinted toward it. As if reading my thoughts, the coach turned to me and said, “I told you he was going to get some varsity time.”

Continue reading “Storybook”