Last night I returned to the lacrosse field for the first time as a coach instead of a player.
The nostalgia is heavy. Coaching brings back a lot of memories for me.
Growing up sports and lacrosse were my life. My north star was a state championship. There was no question about it. That was success or failure. I was so tied to sports that I went through a big identity crisis senior year when looking at playing in college or not. As I started to realize division-level lacrosse wasn’t going to be my path I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I went on a campus visit to IU, my eventual school, and sulked the entire time (sorry about that mom and dad). I didn’t think I was meant to go there, my life was lacrosse. It was a hard transition. For the first time I had to create a new identity for myself.
I ended up doing just fine. I took freshman year off to make sure my grades were right and rush a fraternity, then returned to play club my final three years. Lacrosse was still a part of my life, but no longer my sole identity. I found new interests, new hobbies, a new path while still maintaining my love for the game. I became more balanced.
Now that I’ve returned to the game as a coach I’ve started looking back on who I was in high school and what I treasure from those days.
My senior year we finally got that state championship. I accomplished the one goal I had my entire childhood.
But when I reminisce, the thoughts that come first aren’t about the ring. They’re about the guys I played with.
I miss the camaraderie the most.
I see these 16 and 17 year olds goofing off, talking shit, pushing each other to get better. Thats what I miss.
I think anyone who played competitive sports can relate to this feeling. It’s something I still look for in everything I do. The camaraderie of a team, of a group of friends, a group of coworkers. A common goal can bring you together, but looking back you end up remembering the journey together more than the result.
Perspective is a funny thing. It shows you how priorities change, how much you’ve learned, what experiences you truly value. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to convey this to the kids I coach now at my alma mater. Perspective is impossible to tell, it must be experienced. It must be felt to be understood.
Going through high school and college, we were constantly told “it goes by fast” and “enjoy it while you can.” But there was no way we could truly comprehend the feelings behind those phrases.
I can’t make the guys I coach understand. They can’t.
But what I can do for them is help them come together. I can create an environment, a culture, an experience that they’ll grow from and look back on fondly some day.
They might not remember my name in 10 years. But if they remember the guys next to them, like I remember Chris, Nick, Wilson, Zane, Brett, Josh, Phil, Jon, and the others, then I can be happy with that.