Editor’s Note: A month ago we brought you Part One and Part Two of Chasing The Dream, by Malcolm Chase. Today we bring you Part Three of Malcolm’s epic journey, as he strives to make a game roster for the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse as a 35 year old MLL rookie.
Hey LAS readers! It’s been some time since I threw some words your way but I want you all to know that I’m still out here working my hardest on the Boston Cannons’ practice squad, and trying the see the field this year. More importantly than all that though, the Cannons have really turned things around after a dismal start, and it’s great to be part of a team that is winning.
Our team has since named a new head coach in John Tucker and our superstars are performing like superstars. We’ve added some new faces to the huddle with Ricky Pages from Charlotte, coming off the IR; and Stephen Berger making his Cannons debut in all star form with a handful of points including the game winner in OT against Charlotte a couple weeks ago. We’ve won some of these recent games by a few goals, had an OT thriller win at home, but last week, we dropped a close game at Chesapeake.
The professional attitude remains in place, but it feels like the powerful machine that our team has long been regarded as is now finally running on all cylinders. Like I said, I love that the squad is performing, but to be perfectly honest, this new-found success can give someone like myself mixed feelings.
Of course I want my team to win, and love seeing us take home a W, but by the same token, the chemistry that is now developing within our starting squad makes it even tougher for the coaches to consider playing with the lineup much, if at all. Balancing my personal goals with the team’s goals has been tricky at times, but it’s something I’ve been working on for years, and I think I’m finally starting to get a handle on it!
For example, during practice I might look like a great player if I take Ryan Boyle out with a huge body check as he is scoring a goal in a drill. I’m going hard, playing my game, and being physically ruthless. That’s my game. But what if, in my desire to find the field and impress the coaches, I give Ryan a concussion and he’s out for the rest of the season? In that situation, did I try to help myself, but end up hurting the team? You bet. Finding a balance between going hard being a team player is a must.
At the first home practice under our new coach I also felt a little disconnected from my defensive unit. I hadn’t seen them in a couple of weeks because of away games, and we had picked up Scott Ratliff who, in my opinion, is phenomenal, and steadily becoming one of the best in the league. Good defense is good defense. But picking back up on the timing and speed of the game is tough enough week to week, let alone after two or three weeks between runs. Regardless, I was determined to make a good impression on my new teammates and my new coach. I had gone really hard in the gym and had a stick in my hands all week running a lacrosse camp in Tennessee. I was doing what I could to help the team.
It was a hot night flying back into town from camp and we got to Harvard a little later than I like to, with only about 20 minutes to dress and get loose. Usually I will arrive with some time to interact with the guys and get on my foam roller to make sure my body is ready to go. Coach Tucker walked through the locker room and greeted me. I wasn’t wearing my shirt and the hard work in the gym was fully apparent that week.
“How old are you again?” he asked.
“Jeez man, you look great.”
I use little things like this make myself feel good… Ok, not quite as good as suiting up and ripping it up for sixty full minutes, but it’s still nice when hard work is acknowledged, and it helps me keep going. I think Coach Tucker knows this, and how to pump up his practice guys to get the most out of us so we make our starters that much better for the weekend.
I certainly felt more confident and was ready to rock. I hit the turf in just my practice pinnie because that’s was meatheads do when it’s anything above 60 degrees out. Sun’s Out, Guns Out! Mitch Belisle rolled in a few minutes later from his flight in similar fashion just to drive the point home.
That night we (and I) did have a good practice. We got after it quite a bit harder than any of the earlier practices I had experienced, and I loved it. The next morning we had a solid shootaround. And that evening we went out and had a good game in a revenge win over New York. I felt a part of that energy and a part of that win. Things were coming together for our team.
So where are we now? Now we are 5-6, fourth place in the standings, and have 3 regular season games left. The last two are at home. I hope we crush Hamilton next weekend. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to make my team better for our final two game stand at home.
If my level of conditioning and intensity isn’t enough to crack our line up, then so be it. At the very least, it should be enough to show the guys ahead of me just how hard we need to go to lock down a playoff berth and make a run for the championship. If that’s what I need to do this year to help us win, then I’ll gladly do it, no matter how badly I want to run out there and crush the opposition.
Stay cool out there. I’ll be back soon with more tales from a 35 year old MLL rookie!