Parents, you are great people but according to the standards that most of you raise your kids by today, it is amazing that you survived high school athletics without severe mental trauma. You guys grew up in the same era I did. But do you remember it?
When I played there were no lacrosse private lessons or elite travel club teams. I loved the game and if I wanted to get better on the weekend I would leave in the morning with my stick in hand and be gone all day back for dinner. I never saw this as training, the word I used was FUN.
No one was able to reach me all day. My parents knew where the field was and that was good enough for them. No cell phones or any other mobile devices, unthinkable! you may be thinking “but what if something happened?” The answer is simple, it sucked, it happened, it was done and we dealt with it.
Upon arrival to the park I made up games, split up teams and created goals. A tennis ball would suffice as a ball, the goalie gear would often be a tennis racquet as a goalie stick and a Jason hockey mask as a helmet. If somebody had a helmet that was great, but we certainly did not stop playing if somebody did not have one. We tried to use common sense. We did not hit the kid without a helmet in the head. Yes it is true, our parents trusted us to use common sense.
On those days sometimes I got hurt, I got cut, broke bones and lost teeth. But my mother did not file any lawsuits and and she did not call another parent asking who was to blame. As far as she was concerned no one was to blame but me. Even if another kid hurt me on purpose, her response would be “why are you hanging out with him then?”
Every once in a while a kid would come out with a shiny new stick and we would take turns using it. Sharing and working together so we can play is what started to happen. Nobody said “I can not use that because it does not have the right amount of whip”. If somebody did bring a lacrosse ball I can assure you that nobody said “this is waste of time, that ball is too shiny.” I did not even know what a shiny ball was until I started coaching.
I had friends, but I was not the most popular kid so I did not have many. If I could not find a friend a wall and a ball was good enough for me as a way to the pass the time. Rain, sleet or snow, I found my wall and yes, there were times I used my lacrosse stick to clear space so I could play. Today that would be unthinkable, even though they make “Super Duper all weather Crazy Wax Marked Kick Butt East Coast Monster Mesh Canadian style!” At least I think that is what the kids say. Sometimes I am not sure if they are talking about the mesh or if they are ordering a hamburger at the drive through.
Eventually another kid would come to the wall with his own ball. A conversation would strike up about what jerks everybody else was for rejecting us that day and a new friend was made.
When the season came around for the most part everybody made the team but everybody certainly did not get on the field. But for whatever reason, those kids were not sad because they enjoyed being on the team. Remember when it was proud moment to be on a team regardless of your role on the team?
Those who did not do well had to learn to deal with the disappointment of being a horrible athlete. Accepting reality was the first step towards making improvements and recognizing your strengths. Some guys were not as smart as others, so they never knew where to go on the field, and yes they got called stupid. Shocking I know! In NO WAY do I condone a kid being called stupid, but I would also not call the national guard when it happens.
If I did not excel at lacrosse my parents did not care. They did not care how much playing time I got or how many goals I scored. To this day my dad still ask me if I am still involved in Squash, Hi-li, or whatever that thing is with the stick. Was my dad a bad guy? No, not at all! He cared more about the fact that I was being respectful , getting exercise and taking care of my responsibilities. He cared about the lessons I gained from being on a team more then then the sport itself.
If the coach was a horrible person my parents attitude was to learn to deal with it because you may one day have a boss that you will hate a lot more. They never had the desire to, or saw it as their responsibility to address the coach. If I asked my dad to address the coach he would say “I am not on the team, why would I talk to him?” If I really pushed the subject he would be more likely side with the coach then me, imagine that!
On my team my actions were my own. Consequences were expected even if the situation was not in my control. That is life and you had to deal with. “Them’s the breaks” Mom would say. The idea of parents sending a note if things were not “fair” was unheard of. If my mom did send a note I would probably see it as a horrifying source of shame.
Often I had to take dealing with team conflict into my own hands. Sometimes I had fights, through a punch, took some and learned to get over it. Most of the kids I was friendly with 1 hour later. Nobody asked where the coach was when this happened because coaches were not expected to baby sit 24/7.
I went through this and so did most of you, and you seem to be doing ok. When you played you had failure, success, and responsibility and learned to from all of it. So please, let your kids do the same.