Committed!

Today is the annual Father Judge High School Student-Athlete Signing Day. It is a chance to recognize those student-athletes who have committed to play a sport in college. Kyle, obviously, will be joining the University of Dallas lacrosse team in the fall.

Of course, there is always a catch. Kyle’s lacrosse “coach” – I place that in parentheses because he is literally the worst coach I have ever seen – received the notification for the event a few weeks ago, and decided to send it to the lacrosse players Sunday afternoon. So anyone who wanted to rush to the school – if it was local – for a t-shirt or hat was out of luck. And while Division I programs usually make a production out of this day, smaller schools don’t have the resources for that.

Mrs. Earp sent an email to UD’s athletic director – a fantastic person, by the way – asking if they had any letters of intent which Kyle could sign. The AD responded immediately and we had a copy printed in a half hour. (It’s amazing what a school can do when they actually care.)…

Continue reading “Committed!”

Ring-A-Ding-Ding

Kyle’s march to high school graduation continued unabated last night with the Senior’s Ring Mass.

The mass was held at a local Catholic church, since the high school’s auditorium is not nearly large enough to handle the students and their families. Kyle’s ring is pretty kickass, with a blue stone, and his sport – lacrosse – etched onto the left side. (Click the pic to embiggen.) Kyle, being Kyle, said he would probably wear the ring during the Ring Mass, then stick it in a drawer and never wear it again.

And before you ask for more details, I cannot provide them, since I was working last night. Between the two college visits and our lack of manpower, I couldn’t take another night off. Instead, I spent a fantastic, entertaining evening surrounded by two shootings – including a six-year old who shot herself in the foot with irresponsible daddy’s gun – two robberies, a stabbing, and various aggravated assaults.

So if you missed seeing my smiling face, I wasn’t blowing it off; I was knee-deep in criminals and blood.

Prepare To Be Judged

Father Judge Lacrosse JerseyAs I’ve mentioned previously, Kyle’s high school lacrosse career is now underway, and I am an assistant coach. Saturday was our first bright and early practice, which lasted from 7am to 9am. When Kyle and I arrived at school, the sun wasn’t even up. So… yeah.

It was cold here Saturday, so practice was light. We ran through our offensive and defensive schemes, and made sure the kids were properly stretched and mobile. At the end of practice, the head coach issued the kids their uniforms. They were distributed in order of class; seniors first, and freshman last. Kyle was literally the last person in line.

There are two separate uniforms; one for the varsity, and one for the JV. After the seniors received their kits – seniors must play on the varsity squad – the head coach went through the line, giving the boys their assignments. Some were just varsity, some were just junior varsity, and some were assigned to both teams. (They suit up for the varsity game, and the JV game afterward.)

Eventually it was Kyle’s turn, and as he walked to the uniform table, I snarked, “Wow Kyle, it’s a shame you aren’t playing varsity because your favorite number (13) is available!” Kyle glared at me, told me to shut up, and walked to the table.

The head coach looked at him, then at the other assistant coach. The head coach said, “Kyle… Jv and Varsity.”

Kyle and I both stood there with our mouths agape. “Wait, what? Varsity? As a freshman???” Kyle was on cloud nine, gleefully picked number 13, and took both uniforms to the locker room. Five minutes later, he was wearing it over his shirt for the ride home.

We met in the coach’s office for a few minutes, and I turned to the head coach. “Hey, thank you for that. I know Kyle won’t play in any varsity games, but I appreciate the gesture.”

The head coach replied, “Um, I didn’t do that for you. I want him suiting for varsity because he’s worked really hard. He probably won’t get much time at varsity, but he deserves to be there.”

I was floored. Yes, Kyle has worked hard, and yes, Kyle has been playing lacrosse for nine years, but I never in a million years thought he would make the varsity team as a freshman. He was so excited that when we got home, he ate lunch, then went right into the backyard to shoot on the net and practice his opposite hand shooting. I have never been more proud of him.

Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Father Judge CrusadersThey pull me back in.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Kyle made the high school lacrosse team. There about sixty kids on the team – counting both Varsity and JV – but the team only has two coaches. During January’s first week of training, the coaches asked if any of the kids knew someone with coaching experience who would be willing to help out. Kyle, for his part, said nothing, but his friend Joey elbowed him and said, “Dude, your dad.”

After practice, Kyle and Joey mentioned the coach’s request, and I immediately – and highly sarcastically – replied, “I’m retired.”

I walked on to the lacrosse team at Saint Joseph’s University as a freshman way back in 1987. I never played the game before, but four years of cross country and track helped build my speed and endurance. The coach told me, “You can learn how to throw and catch, but your speed is your best asset.” I played at SJU for four years, and had an average career. I was by no means a scorer, so I did a lot of the grunt work.

Lacrosse exploded in the Philadelphia area in the early ’90’s, and many high schools were looking for coaches. I was lucky enough (at 22 years old) to land a job as the head coach at Holy Ghost Preparatory School. I spent four very successful years there, but when I was hired by the PPD, I couldn’t put in the hours necessary to be a head coach.

I left HGP and landed an assistant job at Father Judge – where Kyle is now – and spent two years there. The administration treated lacrosse like a redheaded stepchild, so the head coach and I moved to Northeast Catholic High School. We spent thirteen years there, until the school closed in 2010. The head coach and I lamented the fact we were one year away from twenty years in coaching.

I’ve been retired from coaching since 2010, with the exception of working with Kyle and Erik in the backyard. I’d be lying if I said I miss it, but watching the boys play satisfies my hunger. I wouldn’t have made the decision if it wasn’t with one of my kids’ teams, but it is. I said yes.

So, my already cluttered life is even more cluttered now. Practices are Monday through Friday from 3-6pm, and Saturday from 7-9am. Games are during the week after school. I’ll work my schedule around Erik’s lacrosse games and track meets – don’t want to miss his events – but the rest of my time will be at Judge’s pretty kickass new turf facility.

Wish me luck.

UPDATE: Final cuts were made today. Kyle officially made the team, so I am now gainfully employed.