(Writer’s Note: Special shout-outs to Ron Garcia, Justin Manjares and Josh “Chewey” Acut, among many others who were the driving force)
Everybody always remembers taking their first steps in everything.
The first time I got an email asking to be part of the first group that would make the Philippines Lacrosse Association in 2012 to establish a team for the 2014 World Games of Lacrosse in Denver, I thought it was a joke. Really, I did. Not to be mean or insulting, but I thought that the idea, or venture, was going to die after the first few steps became challenging.
I wondered who else with Filipino heritage played lacrosse in the U.S.? But at 34 years of age, back then, I wondered why not be a part of this interesting “experiment” and take the first step. Upon my arrival at training camp in Baltimore and Ocean City, MD I was surprised to see players from all over. Grow the game – this was for real!
The talent pool came from a variety of levels. It was also interesting to see the other goalie, Dan Morris, from Dallas who was going to play at Maryland. Once training camp commenced in Ocean City, our combined experiences didn’t matter once we played against former collegiate, Major League Lacrosse All-Stars and current U.S. Team players. We were humbled and overwhelmed. Before the weekend of training camp finished, we played an exhibition game against Team Israel, who also conducted try-outs. Facing current Team Israel players, Ari Sussman and Kyle Bergman, we couldn’t keep up with their amazing talent. An 18-2 score in favor of Israel was the outcome. Team Israel eventually finished in 7th place at the 2014 World Games. I made the Philippines Lacrosse roster in 2014, but dropped out due to my second son being born, along with a construction project to our new house that went over budget. It was a hard decision, but real adult life kicked in.
I wrote this article while the watching the Philippines play Israel on live t.v. this morning on ESPNU. Seeing and hearing the names of former teammates made me smile and the talent being better than 5 years ago amazed me. But it was also hard to watch because once again I got a call asking to be on the roster, and once again, real adult life took over.
After watching the 11-8 loss to Israel this morning, it was great to see how long both programs have come. Both had their respective journeys filled with obstacles, and each journey required taking that first step. And while the Philippines and Israel may be overshadowed by heavyweights such as the United States, Canada and the Iroquois, they’re both part of the much needed constant steps to make lacrosse a global sport.
I said in the beginning that everybody always remembers taking their first steps. And, in this case, while I missed out on two World Games I’m very proud to have been part of the charter group who took those humbling, and much needed first steps – a leap of faith. Sometimes in life those first steps, are actually your BEST steps.