Brooklyn lacrosse eagle academy
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FoGoLax On The Road – Brooklyn

A good mate of mine (Tim O’Meara), whom I met 20 years ago in Australia, is now a teacher, assistant principal, and HS Lacrosse coach in Brooklyn, NY at Eagle Academy, a Brooklyn Public HS, located in Brownsville. He recently asked me to come work with his face off guys that had just started to play lacrosse.

My first instinct when I get invites like this is to say “WHEN AND WHERE??”, as I love any opportunity I get to go into emerging lacrosse territories. I love to help athletes that want to learn. However, today was different… Today was special!!

Welcome to Brooklyn, FoGoLax!

Practice started at 3:15, and I live on Long Island, so my GPS told me it was 31 miles. For any other part of the world you wouldn’t need any more than 30 min to travel 30 miles but hey this is LI and I was driving into Brooklyn. I knew I was in for at least moderate to bad traffic so I gave myself a generous 2 hour travel allotment. The roads were their usual horrible selves, but I made it into the famous borough of Brooklyn (Fuggeddaboutit) with some time to spare.

I notice immediately that there does not seem to be any field in sight and I begin to imagine that we will be using the gymnasium or some room in the building. I can deal with that. However, I meet up with the assistant coach front of the school and he tells me that it’s a short walk down the street to a public park that they use for practices.

brooklyn playground

Ok you have my attention now! A short walk to practice? That actually sounds nice!

Shortly thereafter I meet some of the boys I will be working with. They are shy, guarded, even wary, with this outsider that sounds funny (remember, Aussie accent in Brooklyn). We start our journey “down the street”, which is really a solid three quarters of mile through Brooklyn.

I think to myself and wonder if any of the kids in my town would walk that far just to practice??

We arrive at the field, and to my surprise it has turf. It’s a rectangular almost half-field sized patch of turf next to a hand ball court and playground that to me is an oasis in a concrete jungle. I immediately feel more at home and go to work with the athletes. To my surprise the kids are extremely excited to learn and it is clear to me that they have the “Lax Bug” 100%. What they lack in stick skills and experience, they more than make up for with enthusiasm.

Not surprisingly they pick up the technique fairly quickly and what I notice more than anything is the natural hand speed the kids display. On more than one occasion I saw real D1 hand speed. With some real dedication and training there is incredible potential on this field today.

Whilst I am working with the face off guys the rest of the group is being put through their paces with assistant coach Bennett. They are working on all the skills that you would teach a beginner level lacrosse player and I can’t help but notice the sheer love for the sport just oozing out of every one of them. They listen, try hard, listen again, and try again. It’s so refreshing to see. I finish up with the Face Off guys and we head over to the rest of the group to do some modified scrimmage situations out of a face off. It’s then that I realize that none of the kids have pinnies or reversibles.

It continues to amaze to me what we take for granted every day!!!

Coach and I will quickly get the kids organized into smaller teams so that they can recognize who they are playing with and start out with some 5v5. To say that the games were spirited could be the understatement of the year. These kids played hard!! I told one of the defensemen that if he didn’t stop running into people that we would run out of teammates.

His response – “coach, I play football, this is just like football, you hit the guy with the ball!!!” Well he has a point, I guess. He didn’t really like my advice and just kept on playing the way he knew how, hard and fast!

Great lax day in the BK

A video posted by FOGOLAX (@fogolax) on Mar 2, 2016 at 7:03pm PST

As practice wound down we brought the guys in to wrap things up. Every one of them was exhausted but smiling ear to ear. I issued a challenge to all of the guys that when I came back next week, if they could complete my wall ball challenge, I would have a nice gift form my sponsor company String King Lacrosse.

The reaction I got was priceless.

On my walk back to my car, (it felt like three miles walking back!), I couldn’t help but reminisce on the last two hours I had just spent on the field… and about the many thousands of hours I have spent coaching this incredible game of ours in so many wonderful states and countries.

I must say, the last two hours in Brooklyn were some of the finest I have ever spent on a field. It’s why we all love to coach at its most simple level. The reward one gets seeing the smile on the face of an athlete that has fallen in love with the game the exact same way I had so many years ago on a different continent is priceless.

My trip to Eagle reminded me yet again what makes this sport so special, and why it is what it is to so many of us. Brooklyn – I will be back!!!

For more FoGoLax On The Road, check out Schommy’s trips to Rochester and Florida, as well as his trip to Japan, and his trip back home to Australia! He’s a world traveler, that’s for sure!