I first got to know Jamison Koesterer on a 15YO club team trip from Seattle to Philadelphia last year. The kids had played three hard games at Tri-State that day and were milling around the hotel lobby. Parents were sitting and chatting and cleaning up dinner. I was in my usual position: sucking up to the new coach.
Jamison, the aforementioned coach, was in the middle of an answer to one of my inane questions, when he says “Excuse me just a minute.” He turns and summons one of our players, “Tommy, come here a minute…” Filled immediately with the self-importance and testosterone that all star attackmen seem to possess, Tommy Pimp Rolls himself over to our table and fistbumps his way into a “Yeah Coach?”
Coach Jamison leans into Tommy’s ear and utters the words that will make me a fan of his for the rest of my life…“Tell me I didn’t just hear you talk to your mother that way.”
As a deflated Tommy slunked back to his mother to deliver the mandated apology, my brain was imprinted with the two thoughts that occur to every lacrosse dad that meets Jamison. “I want my son to grow up and be like this man. Hell, I want to grow up and be like this man.”
A few weeks ago, after many more tournaments, a few dinners, and a lot of time together in cars, I sat down with Jamison and interviewed him for an article I wanted to write for LAS. You see, Jamison also plays for the Washington Stealth (2010 World Champions) and is their NLL-leading faceoff guy. I thought it would be great to tell you all about the hard work he puts in to be successful at the X, and it probably would have made a decent article; it was certainly an enjoyable interview.
But then last week something happened. Something that was inevitable but that rocked our little lacrosse community. Jamison announced he’s leaving Seattle to return to Johns Hopkins as coach and grad student. We’re all sad, but incredibly happy for him and as proud as his parents must be. However, it made me realize that I didn’t want to tell you about Jamison’s skills on the field, because that’s not what I’m going to miss.
Here in Seattle Jamison Koesterer walks on water. He’s 6’4 & 240, and has the voice of a lumberjack. He commands respect from men, and the hearts of women. He earned two rings while at Hopkins, and he just got another one with the Stealth (he’ll be forever remembered for this faceoff to Paul Rabil for the OT winner.) He coaches the Seattle Starz Green team, which just last week won the Adrenaline High School Shootout (they’re at UNC Team Camp this week.) And he’s hip enough to play at LXM Pro events.
But he walks on water because he has done an incredible job growing the youth game in our corner of the world. Through Walax, where he’s the Director of Operations, he’s worked with many hundreds of kids, all of whom feel like they have a personal relationship with him. Through the Stealth, he’s taught kids how to be successful and how to be a part of a bigger community. And through Jamison himself, they’ve all learned that accomplishments can happen but they’re going to take some hard work and sacrifice.
So in closing, I just want to say to all of you who coach, instruct, or just help out with lax kids; remember that you’re more than just a lacrosse coach. You’re someone whose words and actions will take the kids through the rest of their lives. You’re the guy they’re gonna remember forever and tell stories about to their kids. Yea, it’s good to grow the game, but don’t forget that you’re growing the players too.
And now and then, make them treat their moms with respect.
Photo credit: Henry Valentine, Washington Stealth
About the author: A longtime NW Lax observer, Barbarosa brings you a look inside the High School scene of The Evergreen State, otherwise known as Washington. Check out his other posts here.