Editor’s note: Please welcome Trevor Tierney back to the Lax All Stars! This week, we posed a few tough questions to Trevor about ATTITUDE, and how it can be the difference between good and great. For more information on recruiting and lacrosse in general, make sure you check out Trevor’s website, TierLacrosse.com!
Got a question you want Trevor to answer in next week’s post? Drop it in the comments section below and we’ll make sure he sees it!
We’ve talked about how being a good teammate can help you get noticed by college coaches, but this week we’d like to dive a little deeper into what it can actually do for the individual player. It’s hard to improve alone, so how can a good attitude help you on the practice field?
I’m not so sure if college coaches would ever be able to notice this one themselves in the recruiting process, but recruiters do take the time to talk to high school and club coaches to find out what a young athlete is like around his teammates. Obviously, if someone is recommended as a great teammate, then it is going to boost a coach’s overall perception of that potential recruit.
The best way for me to describe what it means to me to be a great teammate, I’ll relay the story of the best teammate that I ever had, who was a fellow 2001 classmate on my Princeton team. Chip Buzzeo was a player who had always wanted to go to Princeton, knowing that he might not ever play there. He took a PG year after high school so he could get his grades up and improve his level of play enough to convince Coach T to take him into the program.
From day one, Chip was the type of guy who would do anything for his teammates, whether on the field or in the dorms, locker room or classroom. He played in every practice as hard as he possibly could and never complained that he was not playing in games. His only concern was helping our team to be the best it could be and help us win a national championship. He also a vocal leader who called out the starters and All-Americans when they were not pulling their weight in practice and raised our level of play on a daily basis.
Due to all of these qualities that Chip emulated, he was highly respected by all of our teammates and voted a captain in his senior year. He never ended up playing much for us, but he achieved his goal of helping us win a NCAA National Championship in 2001. He also became the greatest player and athlete that he was meant to become, just by being the best he could be for his teammates. He did not do it for the awards, or for the recognition of being in the papers and magazines, or to get noticed by the fans or alumni of the program. Simply being his best for his team and teammates was enough for him.
When I think back to all the great players that were on that Princeton team, the most important person on the squad was not one of the All-Americans or one of the guys who scored the big goals on Memorial Day. The most important person to that team’s success was Chip Buzzeo, and I will always have the utmost respect and gratuity for him since he helped me reach my ultimate dream in lacrosse and because he was always there for me as a friend.
I think just that alone should be enough to motivate everyone to be a great teammate in practice.
Ok, so a good attitude on the field can make a world of difference not only in getting recruited but also in improving your play. How can a good attitude help a prospective lacrosse player OFF the field?
When you look at Chip’s story that I relay above, I think the lesson off the field is that you learn that sometimes the strongest contributions that you make to the world are the ones that often go unnoticed. Learning to be your best every day on the field transfers over to learning to be your best in everything that you do. Learning to be a great teammate translates over to being a great family member, a great friend, great peer and great leader. That is why the athletes who have perspective and our able to take what they learn from their given sport into the world, are also some of the most amazing people that I have ever met.
When I was about 22 years old, I was blessed with the opportunity to get to meet and spend some time with Pat Tillman, the former NFL star safety who left football to join the Army Rangers and fight in Afghanistan. When I met Pat, I was in awe of him, but he had this amazing attitude and was just interested in learning about me. He told me how awesome he thought it was that I was playing for Team USA in the world games and exclaimed, “You must be an awesome athlete!”
Meanwhile, he was in the middle of doing pull-ups with about 135 pounds strapped to his waste and would easily run circles around me. I had always thought he was an amazing football player, but then I became way more impressed with his attitude as a person and he was one of my biggest idols that I ever met. He is why I ended up changing my number to 40 in the pros after he passed away. Even now, a decade after meeting him and years now since he has passed, I still feel highly influenced him, all from a brief encounter.
So, for me to be able to write down the exact effects of how a “good attitude can help a a prospective player OFF the field,” would be nearly impossible because the ripples that you can send out into the world are limitless. But, this is also where you learn about what having a good attitude or being a good teammate or being a good person actually means. You can’t actually do all that in hopes of it helping yourself…you have to do it with the intention of giving to others and have no expectation for anything in return.
Is there anything to be gained from a tough guy attitude? Or a surly attitude? What’s the difference between “blue collar” and “punk who won’t get recruited”?
I don’t believe there is anything ever gained from being anything than what you already are. So, you might be a tough player, which is great and coaches will take notice. You might be a blue collar worker, and that will also pay off in helping make you a great player and earning respect from your teammates and coaches. But, putting on some mask and trying to be someone that you are not, will be pretty transparent and most coaches and teammates will most likely be repelled by you, rather than respect you.
If you are a “punk” or someone who does not have a great attitude or good work ethic or is a bad teammate, then you are going to have a hard time in the lacrosse world. It’s a small community and word gets around quick, so if you want to play in college, you better clean up your act quick. Usually, young athletes who are considered “punks” and “troublemakers” are usually the ones who are also struggling the most personally. I try to have compassion for these young men and do my best to communicate with them to see if they need to seek out someone like a counselor or therapist who can help them out.
High school and college lacrosse are both great avenues for boys to become young men. How can the skills you learn on the field help you develop a healthy attitude for the rest of your life? Or is that too much of a burden to place on sport?
This is an absolutely awesome question and it is the one that I have just started asking myself the past year or so. It is too broad of a question for me to answer simply and succinctly here, but this is my whole motivation in creating TIER Lacrosse. On that site, through writing my blogs and sharing my experiences, I hope to share how I believe the skills that we learn on the field transfer over to our everyday life. It is also why I choose to be a volunteer coach at Denver and work with all the youth and high school players that I do. I am no longer motivated enough just by winning and losing to keep doing this. I coach lacrosse now exactly for this very reason. I absolutely know from personal experience that the skills that you learn on the field can help you to become a better person off the field for the rest of your life.
It is absolutely not too much of a burden to place on a sport. To simply play, coach and support youth sports without supporting this goal in mind, would be a huge failure in my mind.
Thanks for reading!
Check out TierLacrosse.com for more great articles from Trevor Tierney.