Editor’s Note: I am fortunate that I get to speak with people about lacrosse for a living. I hear a lot of crazy talk (which I love) and have had a couple of conversations that blew my expectations and assumptions out the water. But few things caught me by surprise quite as much the below, written by a trusted lacrosse parent from New Jersey.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a parent, maybe it’s just a topic that has never crossed my mind, or maybe I’ve forced it out of my mind because it’s a problem I don’t have to deal with… yet! In the end, The Parents’ End Game is a topic I found interesting, so I wanted to share it with our readers…
People say Death and Divorce are extreme cases of loss. Less extreme, but still notable, are changes in “structure” of what we, as (Lacrosse) Parents, know. Recently I have been hearing from my contemporaries that this end of lacrosse structure is now well in sight, and in most cases, they didn’t realize it was coming.
For 9 years, I, and thousands of others, have made the committment to our children, the programs they play for, our towns, and our game, to be there year round on the field, on the sidelines, in the stands, running consessions, buying equipment, getting up at the crack of dawn to drive, staying in hotels, being a voice of reason to others Parents who were not as involved, helping kids of all levels grow as athletes, and more important as growing young adults, running dinners, setting up tents, spending thousands of dollars in snacks, waters, gatorade, gas, miles on the car, restaurants, and all in all extremely varied weather, and all for the love and support of children…
It’s admittedly crazy, but it’s also something that we wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China.
Now, many of us are faced with our children entering High School, where 90% of the above tasks are taken out of the equation. We are told “Thanks,” by the HS Coaches, “but we will take it from here…” This is life, something that is good and the way it is supposed to be… but it still hurts.
For most, it is a good hurt: the type you get from a job well done… but for some it hurts bad: we feel disconnected, we feel old, and we feel not needed anymore.
As High school arrives, the lucky kids are still playing, and we parents show up before game time (not the 1 hour before for set up and warm up) and leave after, as transportation is provided by the school. It used to be we drive them home and get to talk about the game, the highs and lows… for many, those drives were defining, and sometimes there was a turning point where our child did something great that showed how all the backyard work paid off. Other times, not so good, where our answer (asked or not), was, “you need to work harder”.
Either way, it was a moment for both sides that helped develop the current future. The HS Sports life is not so bad though, as it means something. The student-athletes are playing for something now, whether class acceptance, regional recognition, or maybe if they are really lucky, a shot at playing in College.
There is nothing like the pride of watching your child compete for something that means something. Most parents will admit that they still see the little kid with a uniform too big rustling around the field when they were 10… and this is what makes us feel old… as well as the fact that the HS years come and go quick, like a gas tank that always drains faster from half filled to empty vs full to halfway. And then, it’s over.
And this brings me to Love. It is the next phase of life, and it encompasses the pictures, game films, articles, and memories. All of that last a lifetime.
For me, I empathize completely… I had a conversation with a Dad like me, that has turned his garage into a glorified Sporting good store as this 9th and 11th grader play Lacrosse and Hockey year round. He was showing me the abundance of sticks, uniforms and equipment that the boys have grown out of over the years.
He said, “the end game is coming… and I am not ready for this.“
My sons are also 9th grade and 11 grade, and both play Lacrosse year round. The 11th grader is looking at Colleges and is lucky to have worked hard on and off the field thus having some real legit options to continue into College. My parental pride is bustling as I know first hand how hard this process has been, with all the ups and downs of the process.
Club Lacrosse aside, the ride is winding down. My involvement is diminishing. My being needed in this regard is going from a sunny day to a casual shade of gray. Then I look to my left and see my Twins 3.5 year old boys… and I know in a few years, I get the benefit of continuing the love all over again… doing all of the above again (hopefully better), definitely smarter with experience under my belt, and right then I realize that I am the lucky one.
Most of my brethren are not so lucky… so as the new year is now here, I raise a bottle of diet Snapple peach iced tea and salute my Brothers (and Sisters) in arms for a Lacrosse life well done, and I know in my heart that our Children are the better for it, and more importantly, so are we.