(Writer’s Note: I may be biased in writing this article because lacrosse is my favorite sport. The past few months without any sports, or social gatherings, has me lost but also in a state of constant and positive reflection. Hopefully this can help your current state whether you are an athlete, or not.)
If you follow me on social media you’ve probably seen this photo (above) MANY times. I usually post it to celebrate #ThrowbackThursday, or #TBT for short, but it’s a picture of me back in 1996 with my retro, vintage, old school lacrosse gear in high school (South Kent School, CT – “Go Cardinals!”). High school in the early and mid-90’s had me see things start and turn mainstream such as: reality TV, the internet, Windows ’95, CD’s and much more. It was an awesome time! But looking back, that lacrosse photo of me was taken at the very last game of my high school career.
So here’s the story about that photo. We were playing our rival, the Salisbury School, who are now a national powerhouse in lacrosse. We were also getting our asses kicked, at home, in front of all my friends and faculty to see. While the game sucked, after each quarter expired my mind was racing more about playing my last lacrosse game. I was relieved but more sad and empty when the final whistle blew.
A few days later, I was so excited when I found out that there was a professional photographer at the game who was selling the photos. I made sure to order a few of them. I took the photo with me to college – an art school – where it hung up in my dorm room. It was used as a direct way to show my unconventional background and interests to others, while reminding myself of personal, past accomplishments. Countless times in my dorm room working on mundane art assignments in an environment lacking sports, had me looking at the photo. I was missing EVERYTHING about that past experience.
So, what happened since that photo was taken back in high school? Well, 6 years after that photo was taken, luck and chance would present itself and I was back to playing lacrosse. My weekends were full of competition and I was so happy to be around a group of like minded people again – teammates. 13 years after that photo was taken, those newly made teammates enabled me to have the career I always wanted by starting and founding The Art of Lax. 16 years after that photo was taken, it resurfaced again on my wedding day, as it was presented by my parents to my lacrosse playing wife. Soon after, with a family and a move to the suburbs, I found myself playing with a group of individuals all year round. Crazy, right?! During one year I played more games in my late-30’s than all of my 4 years in high school combined! Simply put, going back to playing lacrosse was the BEST personal decision I ever made for myself.
Unlike the current situation, I never had a season cancelled, and I experienced both my high school and college graduations. I cannot relate to those who had these stripped away from them and I am extremely sorry for what has happened. I wish there was a ‘crystal ball’ to see when this is going to be over. But this is what I can tell you, which I hope can only help you. Going back to my photo taken in high school, instead of looking at it with acute nostalgia it now serves as a positive example of NOT being the last lacrosse game I ever played, or the end of something that you deeply love.
Look, I get that it’s devastating to not practice, work, compete and enjoy being with a group of people who are emotionally invested to each other. After everything returns to normal, lacrosse will always be here. It’s not going anywhere because it has an ‘open door’ policy. You can come back to it and you’ll always find yourself at home with it. You’ll even meet people that you’d never have met before, who will learn from you and introduce you to things you couldn’t imagine. I bet you after all this, people will have a better education by having gained a deeper appreciation, thus truly growing the game to a greater level. And that’s always a great thing!
Keep those stick skills alive and your gear in good condition, because we’ll see you back on the field at some point. Remember that lacrosse is the oldest, continuing team sport on Earth and there are plenty of games left to play and a heck of a lot of people rooting for you. Just like my time in high school with all those new, hot and popular things that came out – some evolved and some dropped – I’m glad I purchased that 8×10 glossy photo which I digitized, having a lasting memory for the past 24 years. But I’m also super happy to have created newer and even better memories, too!
Yes, you can say that I became a victim of falling in love with something all over again when I returned to playing lacrosse, because I hope you experience that rare feeling, too! Please be safe, healthy and happy during these trivial times. I’ll leave it here with a quote from another high school, 90’s icon in talk show host, Jerry Springer: “in the meantime, take good care of yourself, and each other.”
Yours in LAX,
(Founder, Creative Director – The Art of Lax)
p.s. Pics from my time ever since I returned. :o)