Two years ago, our lacrosse team decided that we wanted to participate in the WSYL (World Series of Youth Lacrosse), a tournament that, like the Little League World Series, is only available to 13-year- olds. The rules state that all players must live within 100 miles of their home field, so every week for two years our boys practiced in Orange County with teammates from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County. This is a tournament that you need to qualify for, and so we played a few months back in Orange County and won the tournament, which gave us the No. 1 seed in the West. This article is about fight, grit, determination, bonding, coaching and, most of all, family.
When you sign up for club sports, you may or may not know what you are in for. And once in a while, you get something really special. Our team found something special and, win or lose, it was one of the greatest rides we’ve been on.
There were so many special “Mad Dog Moments” on this trip: Team parties that were put together at the last minute with serious improvising, i.e., keeping drinks cold by putting them in the icy Colorado river; a breakfast place in a small town that refused to make my friend’s son a smoothie because they were just tired of making smoothies that day; 10 p.m. curfew and snapchats from the coach to be sure the boys were in “really” in bed; ice baths; sewing on patches in-between games thanks to some very crafty moms; constant water runs; boots on cars; and one of our players winning the fastest shot competition with a 100 mph shot.
When the day finally arrived and the tournament started, the boys met at the ESPN tent for “car wash” interviews, and then the games began by 9:15 a.m. We were winning early on, but every game was a fight. The ultimate prize in this tournament was getting to play at the Sports Authority Field, where the Denver Broncos play, being on ESPN2 and getting tons of new gear from helmets, to gloves, pads and new uniforms. Let’s be honest, the new swag put it over the top for the boys.
In the quarter finals against an incredible team from Bethesda, Maryland, we were down 7-2, and made an awesome comeback to win the game 12-11 in overtime. The semifinal was Monday, July 4 at 8 a.m. They went into that game, exhausted, as did every other team there, but ready to grab the dream. The boys came out hard and were ahead the entire time. My only concern that morning was how to find the “South East” gate at the Sports Authority stadium later that afternoon for the big dance. We were playing a team from Long Island (our nemesis, and a team we had beaten earlier in the week), and in the fourth quarter, they made a comeback and beat us by 2 points. It’s a moment in time that I will never forget. The tears just flowed. The emotion and exhaustion at that point, after having won 16 games in a row, was enormous. There were no words to console anyone...just sadness and then silence from the team. Later that day, the boys had to meet at the stadium to march on the field, along with all the other teams, for ESPN. The team that beat us was so classy. If you know me, then you know how strongly I feel about sportsmanship. The team that beat us, Igloo Black Ice, turned around and shook all of our boys’ hands and told them how incredible they were. The tears started spilling again.
As I look back at the lessons learned over the past few weeks, here are just a few: Sportsmanship, attitude, perseverance, hard work, fun and family all played a huge part in their success. On the morning of our semifinal, the better team won. That’s what makes sports so exciting. In the end, who wants it more? Who is willing to work even harder to achieve their dream? And, most importantly, how do these experiences shape you?
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