We are in year 10 or 11 of my daughter playing lacrosse. From the little kid beginner leagues to top-tier national tournaments in front of college scouts, she has competed at nearly every level. Many of our summers have been organized around lacrosse travel. It has taken us from the New York to Colorado and many states in between. We have had joy and laughter and lots of learning. Extended car trips have given us loads of time to connect.
She is a great lacrosse player. She may not score a ton of goals, but she excels at her position which often helps set her team up for success. She is a leader.
At some point in the last year, she decided that playing competitive lacrosse in college was probably not her path. She has had opportunities and offers, but never really followed through on them. She likes to play a lot of different sports and doesn’t want to eat, breathe, and live lacrosse in college.
It has taken me time to get my own ego out of the way and listen to what she is telling me. She highlighted this revelation in her college essay. Stepping back from all-lacrosse-all-the-time has helped her appreciate both lacrosse and other parts of life like travel and other sports she enjoys. Stepping back doesn’t make her any less of an athlete. It just means she knows what she wants and the life of a division-level athlete isn’t it. She has her heart set on our amazing state school, and we are waiting to hear if she gets in. In the mean time, we both know this may be her last go around with lacrosse, and as a senior it is definitely a farewell year with many of the girls who have shared her path along the way.
One of her wishes for this fall was to play a couple of “fun” tournaments with her friends. They are all amazing athletes and naturally want to win, but for this, winning wasn’t really the main goal. They didn’t really want to practice. They wanted silly outfits and giggles. They wanted to coach themselves. They just wanted to pick up and play the sport they love. So my job became to make that dream happen.
Weeks of planning. Most of these girls have played together at the same school across a number of years, but a few extras helped round out the roster…a couple of freshmen who were looking for a team, a friend who had moved to another district. After the roster, we started on the details….a cheeky, punny team name: “Halloweeners.” Goofy custom tie-dye shirts with unlikely numbers on the back (how does the ref call 911? 8008? Infinity? Pi?) Silly socks. Then the girls added funny face paint and onesies / costumes / tutus and we were the merriest band of misfits taking the field that Saturday. Even the refs smiled at our names and could see how much fun they were having.
I got to be the adult on the sideline, but I wouldn’t know how to coach them really. They took care of all that. They laughed, they complimented each other, they pointed out things to work on. They fought like hell during the games and laughed like hell during the breaks. It was pretty awesome to witness the level of positivity these girls shared with one another. They trusted each other and gave their best. Every single girl had moments of brilliance. After four wins they lost to a respectable team playing high level lacrosse in semi-finals. No one hung their heads. They had a great day.
As we got in the car to head home, I asked my daughter if she had gotten her wish? She said yes. It was fun. It was friends. It was laughter and low-pressure. Since she knows she is not committing to college lacrosse, this is her time and her group to enjoy the sport she loves.