Last Summer marked the first-ever season of Rooftop Lacrosse in New York City. For a little more history on the free Summer clinic and scrimmage event put on by CityLax, and a great video from last week, check out our Grow The Game: New York City Rooftop Lacrosse post. This Summer has seen an increased turnout, improved play and a whole new host of coaches!
Last night marked the third, and second to last, Rooftop Lacrosse event of the Summer, and we were all treated to a special guest, Coach Ed “Woody” Woodson!
Coach Woody grew up in Brooklyn, still has a lot of family in the area, and picked up lacrosse while he was at Middlebury College in Vermont. He didn’t play all four years at Midd, but the sport had a definite impact on him, and coach Woodson continued to play, learn and love the game after college. Eventually, Coach Woodson had a son, and he taught the child the game of lacrosse, and now Chazz Woodson is a household name in the lacrosse world.
I met Coach Woody in person for the first time last night, but we had talked over the phone before, after being put in touch by Verina Crawford, who spearheaded the creation of the Hampton Lacrosse Club. As is often the case, a phone conversation or two simply didn’t do Coach Woody justice.
However, last night, Coach Woody came out to a Rooftop Lacrosse session, and his impact was felt immediately. Coach Woody is pure positive honesty. He tells it like it is, but does it all with a smile on his face. His lessons focus on lacrosse, but often hint at larger life lessons as well. He’s personable, interested, and interesting, and it was an honor and a pleasure to have him out on the field with us.
When he took over the defensive slide packages during a fast break drill, the improvements came rapidly. When he told a kid to go hard through a ground ball, and then explained WHY GBs were so important, the kid listened. When he spoke on communication and teamwork, the players responded, and improved. His connection to the kids was instantaneous, and the improvement our players showed was impressive.
After the Rooftop session was over, Coach Woody and I rode the A train back to Brooklyn together. I got to learn more about his experiences at Middlebury, his views on the game, and how it can be grown in the right way. His knowledge, experience and passion is refreshing to be around, and his respect for the Native American traditions and history within the game was evident from minute one.
Even though Coach Woody seems to have no desire to be in the spotlight, I wrote this post anyway. He is a leader, and a role model, and an example for the rest of us to follow. He wants to give back, honor the game, and help young people become responsible, intelligent young adults, and then continue to help them grow from there. He’s a giver, and an inspiration, and it was an honor to have him out there with us, teaching the game to the next generation of players.
I hope many more older lacrosse players follow in Coach Woody’s steps, and continue to teach the game with the kids always placed at the forefront. Opportunity, healthy living, education, hard work and enjoyment are the keys to true success, and with those, the wins will also come. Thanks to Coach Ed Woodson for coming out and shining his light!