Editor’s Note: I met Steve Dircks years ago playing Summer lacrosse, and I was impressed with his athleticism and drive from day one. After a couple more seasons at Loyola, Dircks made it into the MLL, and today he’s sharing his journey with you, so you too will know what it takes. Check out Scout It Out Sports as well, which is a project Dircks is currently involved in, to learn more about how YOU can train to get to the highest level, and find athletic services, info, and professional trainers in your area.
My name is Steve Dircks and I would like to give you some insight into how I became a Major League Lacrosse player.
I grew up in Mountain Lakes, NJ and was one of many youth athletes who participated in the sport of lacrosse. I was never the star player growing up and that was nobody’s fault but my own. I played Xbox and never concentrated on lacrosse. I only attended camps that were local, didn’t know about all-star teams, and I never imagined that I would be a college lacrosse player. My parents knew that, at the time, I wasn’t dedicated to lacrosse, so they didn’t invest their money or time to find me a club team, camp, or private coach.
But it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when my own athletic outlook hit rock bottom. I believed then that I deserved to make the varsity lacrosse team. You heard that right; I thought I deserved a varsity spot.
What had I done to deserve it? Nothing.
As a result, I was put on JV. I now look back on those days as the most disappointing days of my athletic career, but also the most important. I decided to make a change. I decided then that I would, quite simply, become the best lacrosse player I could be.
My JV lacrosse season ended and my father knew how disappointed and frustrated I had become. He believed I had finally come to the realization that it was up to me to earn that Varsity spot my junior year. My parents believed I was determined to do what ever it took to elevate my game. They spent time exhausting their networks to find me club teams, camps, private coaches, and strength and conditioning programs that would make me into the athlete I am today.
They wanted me to achieve my goal. They generously provided me with the tools necessary to attain success. They found me the resources that set my foundation for lacrosse development. I ended up starting on Varsity my junior year, but a starting spot wasn’t where it was going to end for me. I wanted to be recognized as one of the best players in New Jersey. I worked hard that following summer, fall, and winter. I was dedicated and believed that no one would out work me.
My parents saw my daily determination and that made them work harder to find the available resources that would increase my chances to succeed. I knew going into my senior year that I was more prepared than any lacrosse player in the state of NJ. I helped lead my team to the state championship game and was awarded the 2006 New Jersey Player of the Year. Not bad for a player only two years removed from being a JV scrub sophomore.
After my success at Mountain Lakes I went on to play at Loyola University. I didn’t play much my freshman year but I didn’t let that crush my spirits. I knew what I needed to do to find the field. I needed to work!
I earned a starting spot my sophomore year but dislocated my elbow before the season. That didn’t stop me either. I struggled through 8 weeks of grueling physical therapy, came back, and re-earned my starting spot, and then was named All-Conference.
I began my junior year with high expectations and was ready for another successful season. I dislocated, fractured, and tore a ligament in my knee three days before our first game. I was told that this was not your ordinary knee surgery and it would not be an easy road to recovery. All the work I had done to play the sport I loved came to a screeching halt. At this major road block, I can honestly say I thought about throwing in the towel.
It would require motivation similar to my junior year of high school to get well and return to my starting position.
I reflected on my sophomore year of high school and I got myself back into that mindset. My goal was to come back the next season and start with my senior class. I lived and breathed physical therapy for a year. I gave up my whole summer with friends and family to get my knee back to full recovery. I knew that it would take hard work and dedication to be successful. Nothing was going to get in my way. I knew I had come too far to fail.
After a great deal of hard work, sweat and tears, I came back and started alongside my fellow Loyola Greyhound seniors, something I thought might never happen. The scar on my knee from the surgery serves as a physical reminder to this day, and every time I look at I see me at age 15 making the decision that would lead me to where I am now in life.
Reflecting back on my career in lacrosse, I remember the ups and downs, my awesome teammates, but most of all, I remember that I never gave up on myself. Nothing is given to you. You can be anything that you want to be, it’s just a matter of how bad you want to work. I know that if my parents hadn’t found me opportunities and avenues to develop and challenge myself, I would not be the athlete that I am today.
More importantly, no matter the challenges and low points I experienced in my life, I always believed in myself. Dedication and determination aren’t lacrosse skills, they are personal choices. They can be applied to any facet of life, if you believe in the process and the end result, you will be successful. It is just a matter of how much do you want it!
Go out and get it!