10 days away from our opening scrimmage. 23 days, 21 hours, 51 minutes and 20 seconds away from our program’s opening game. And the snow continues to fall at record-breaking pace. After spending the better part of 5 years at Western Reserve Academy (near Cleveland) I thought I knew something about winter weather. I’m trying to be patient, but 2010, you’re being ridiculous. Like “Dewy I’m cut in half real bad” ridiculous:
Listen, I’m a control freak with an obsessive-compulsive personality. Frankly, being Type A usually helps me more than its hurts me, and I’m ok with it. I love my job and I want to be great at my job. I’m no Bud Kilmer, but trust me when I tell you that I want to excel at everything and coaching is no different. I want my teams to win and I want my players to be successful. I enjoy working toward perfection. I feel if I work hard enough and keep my eyes open, every so often can get a glimpse. I love those moments, but they come at a cost. There is no substitute for practice, it’s the sustenance by which all teams survive/succeed.
I complain about the weather. We all do. It sucks. I suppose I should be grateful. At LVC, we are fortunate to have access to a tremendous indoor facility and that’s great. Personally, I feel lacrosse indoors is like buying generic; some things are just sacred. The thought of heading into this scrimmage without any legitimate full field outdoor practices makes uncomfortable.
College athletes give up a whole bunch of things they really enjoy hoping for a big payoff in the end. Sure, everybody enjoys the process, loves their teammates, and makes lasting memories, but only one team hoists the trophy and that only sits well years after the fact.
College athletes dedicate themselves because they want to win. Lacrosse players, doesn’t matter what level (D1-MCLA), dedicate themselves religiously and practice is their Salah. Practice is a cathartic ritual to be taken very seriously. It’s an obligation. Like breathing.
For many reasons, I feel practices are more meaningful than games. As a coach, I can only measure consistent progress in practice. When things click it’s palpable and the players feel it. Collectively, they carry that with them into games. For the individual, nothing could be more important in terms of preparation than the repetitive nature of practice. Repetition builds confidence. There is nothing more dangerous than a team of confident, well prepared players. We ask two things from our players every practice: effort and concentration. If they do their part and we do ours, they will improve every single day.
As I get older, I am becoming more aware of my surroundings. I’m learning to let go of bad days or at least pretend better. I tell myself bad practices are just minor set backs, to be more like Tony Dungy. His expression never changed, and he never let his insecurities decay the confidence of his players or his players confidence in him.
A bad practice used to have a direct impact on my feelings of self worth. (Type A. See above.) If we had a good practice, I was Leo on the bow of the Titanic. If we had a bad one, I felt sick, like how Paula Abdul must have felt watching American Idol the other night.
Leading me to my point, this weather is rendering me (and everybody else) completely powerless. How I deal with it is what really matters. More importantly, it’s seriously jeopardizing the quality of college lacrosse in 2010. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. I’m just jammed up because we gave the kids the day off.
About the author: A 3-time MCLA All-American and Offensive Player of the Year at Claremont McKenna, Dylan Sheridan is currently assistant coach of the Lebanon Valley College men’s lacrosse team. LVC is in its first year as a DIII program and is led by legendary head coach John Haus. Prior to moving to LVC, Dylan coached DI women’s lacrosse as an assistant at St. Mary’s College in CA.