Experienced, consistent, a role model – a few different words get thrown around to describe the old guy on the team – slow, falling apart, grey. When we were in the process of getting the Fighting Pastries ready to compete as the Danish National Lacrosse Team in 2015, I came to realise that I had been playing lacrosse longer than some of the guys on the team had been alive.
Two years have gone since then and the amount of guys on the team who were born after I started playing in ‘97 has increased and it is a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
The Types of Old Guys
I remember playing my first games of senior lacrosse at Surrey Park in Melbourne back in 2002 as a 14 years old. A young buck. A greenhorn. A kid who needed a lift to every game because I was still a few years away from learning to drive, borrowing a car, and driving myself.
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Looking at the older guys on my team back then, I realised there were a couple of different types of older guys playing.
Old Guy Type 1
The guys held together with strapping tape and ankle braces, rubbing Deep Heat into their creaky bodies two hours before the warm up. The same guys who quote Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon after every single outing, or during the warm up, “I’m too old for this, sh@£’.”
These guys are tough as old jerky, nuggety and probably spent their best years with a Bacharach lodged firmly on their melons and a non-offset stick glued into their gloves. They only get on the field for half of the games each season due to typical old body injuries like sore backs and hamstring strains.
This person is the life of the post game drinks, chewing the ear off anyone who’ll listen to their old war stories.
Old Guy Type 2
The guys who gets better with age and makes it look effortless. They are cool, calm and collected on the field, possess some serious dad strength to go along with their dad bods.
The kind of guys who play offence, never get out of a walk, but still get a bag of goals by being in the right spot at the right time.
The guys who play defence, only wander as far from the goal as necessary to cover their player. They’ll throw some serious lumber and are getting a bunch of knock downs or interceptions just to avoid extra running.
(This is Frenchie from Bayswater Lacrosse club. If you know Frenchie, you’ll get it. If you don’t then just enjoy the picture and imagine what he is like).
They are hard workers and quiet achievers.
Wait, am I an Old Guy?
15 years on, and into my 20th year of lacrosse, the transition from being one of the young guys to being one of the old guys crept up on me.
I didn’t even realise it happened.
I got busy with all the things in life outside of lacrosse while still getting to training semi-regularly and playing games. A kid of two along the way, many job changes, moving countries, getting married, going back to school for my second bachelor’s degree, buying and renovating a house… the order of stuff isn’t important, it is life and it happens.
However, it suddenly struck me like a lacrosse ball to the shin on a cold night – I am now ‘the old guy’. I went to training one night and Lou was celebrating his 16th birthday. I started playing in the age of non-offset sticks and before “tilt” and “flow” were a part of the lax bro vocabulary. Many of my teammates started playing in the age of cellies, ripping top ched and getting pumped up to pregame beatz on something wireless.
I’m now THE OLD GUY.
Yep, I’m the Old Guy
So, now I have more grey hairs on my body than they have any hair on theirs. What do I have to contribute? Should I just up and quit? I refer to my ankles as good and bad instead of left and right, should I get out before I start calling them bad and worse?
As an experienced campaigner I feel like I have a lot to give the team. Being a mentor to younger players is invaluable. I have done this before, I know when to tell a young teammate to step into line. I know when to give them a pat on the back and say ‘It’ll work out.’ Hopefully, when I get some more spare time again, I can start coaching the kids.
Playing lacrosse in Denmark, where there are are only about 30 guys, 20 women, and 8 kids playing, it is pretty apparent that I need to keep playing. It’s up to me to show the next generation that sports aren’t exclusively the domain of the under 25’s. We need as many bodies on the field as we can get.
Legends are Built
We have a guy here called Thorbjørn – long story short he is a legend. 52 years old, firefighter in the day time, hard working lacrosse player on weekends.
The best part of his story is that he didn’t start playing until he was 40+.
This guy is a role model, a great family man and an inspiration. He is selfless. If I am still playing when I am 52 years old, my lacrosse career would span from 1997 to 2039 – 42 years of play… I don’t plan on doing that but it would be pretty epic.
When Should I Retire?
As far as I am concerned, as long as my body doesn’t give out on me. That way, retirement comes down to enjoyment. If I still enjoy playing the game and it doesn’t impact on other things in my life too much, then I’ll keep at it.
I recently stepped back from off-field duties with the Danish Lacrosse Federation and Copenhagen Lacrosse committees. The goal was to take a couple of months away from playing and training after the birth of my 2nd child.
I even missed a lacrosse trip to Germany where the Danish ‘Fighting Pastries’ picked up their first ever tournament win.
When I finally got back out on the training track, it felt good and I was looking forward to doing it again. The urge to compete is still there. My legs hurt the next day, but not enough to deter me from suiting up and doing it again and again.
Now I just need to get in shape again and get ready for the 2018 World Championships in Israel.