Sports Have Always Been a Part Of My Life
For as long as I can remember, sports have been a part of my life. I started playing soccer when I was five, and my younger brothers and I would run around our Florida neighborhood playing manhunt or knockout until it was too dark to see. My parents took us to Miami Dolphins or Florida Marlins games frequently, so this thing called “sports” was just always present. It was never something I thought twice about or ever understood how special it was to have such a great thing in my life. Then something crazy happened.
A recreational lacrosse team in my hometown began when I was thirteen years old, and sports began to take a new meaning in my life. I can still remember the moment I walked up to my first practice with my big blue goggles and yellow Brine stick. I remember the moment I picked up my first ground ball and thinking how cool it was to be able to do that. I began to fall in love with lacrosse and the way I played sports began to shift.
I started to play lacrosse regularly. This meant hours of wall ball on the side of my house until I had to upgrade to the bigger wall at the park. It meant calling my mom to take me to the park or asking my dad to come home after work and throw around with me.
I knew I wanted to play in college, which meant a greater time and financial commitment from my family. Each day as I practiced and each minute my parents drove me to the next event I fell in love with this sport and how to play it even more.
Now, eleven years later I have transitioned to a different role. I am no longer the athlete, rather the one telling the athletes how to be better, how to push themselves past their limits, and guide them through their college journey. I have transitioned from athlete to coach and each moment I continue in my sideline role I begin to feel much more than the passion and happiness it felt to play. I feel gratitude for everything the sport of lacrosse has given me since that first groundball when I was thirteen years old.
And here’s why:
During those first few years, lacrosse meant my parents drove me around to the practices and tournaments because they had to and my coaches were just around because that was their job.
As a coach, I am so grateful for those hours in the car with my dad because it gave me an opportunity to learn what hard work and commitment meant to him as he shuttled me around the state. It showed me how my mom is the greatest listener after a bad practice and how she still wants to hear about them even if I’m not a player anymore. It showed me how unselfish my two younger brothers were as they are dragged to something each week without complaints. I told my family I wanted to be better and they said, “heck yeah, let’s do it!” I have immense gratitude for that.
As an athlete, I had coaches who would stay late with me after every practice so I can take extra shots or would spend all Saturday morning teaching me new skills. They knew my goals, and just like my family, wanted to help me pursue whatever future I would have in lacrosse.
I was fortunate enough to play Division I lacrosse where I had coaches who found ways to push me past what I thought I was mentally and physically capable of doing. I knew I was learning who I was, but three years after that last college game I have discovered who I am. All due to those coaches who invested in me and told me I could reach a level I didn’t think was possible for myself. They genuinely loved me and wanted to be part of my life. I will never forget what it meant to have those coaches push and care for me as I try to invest that same kind of passion into the lives of my athletes.
Eleven years after that first practice and as I finish my first fall season as a collegiate head coach I have realized that things aren’t easy when it comes to coaching! Gear doesn’t just show up, coaches aren’t on campus 24/7, and that it takes a lot more than going to the field from three to five every day to get this job done.
Lacrosse allowed me to be coached and work with coaches that made these things look easy and never made us athletes feel like it was a chore to do those things for us. That is seriously something to be grateful for! I realize how much of a blessing it is to be able to be part of these athletes’ lives and work with them in that way.
Sure, lacrosse has brought me endless 100-yard sprints with my best friends, and as much as I would do anything to be back on the field playing. I am so thankful for this new role and my transition to coaching. Coaching has given me a new perspective of the game itself and made me realize I probably should have listened to my coach more.
This new position has taught me how much freedom and peace one sport can give you when you get to play it. Becoming a head coach made me realize how each day I step out onto the field there are years of others’ hard work and guidance that have helped me to where I am today. If a sport can give me all that, then I have so much gratitude for this game.