Grow the Game®

Latrell Harris entered the NLL as one of the youngest players ever drafted. Four years and a career later, he reflects his lessons learned.
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The Many Lessons of Playing Lacrosse

You learn a lot playing lacrosse. You especially learn a lot playing it professionally.

I entered the NLL at age 18 after being one of the youngest-ever players drafted into the league. Only one team showed me much interest before the 2016 NLL Draft, and you can guess which team I still play for now years later. I entered a locker room with full-grown men when I myself was barely one.

Very quickly, I learned that wasn’t an excuse. You can’t think of yourself as a small boy out there. That’s no good. You got drafted for a reason, and you’re in the game for a reason. Go play like it.

And this isn’t Junior A. You can’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off because you want the ball. You have to play with a high IQ, or you will be exposed.

Playing lacrosse also taught me to push my limits. There have been a few times on the bench during games where I’ve felt like I was close to passing out, and teammates told me things like, “You’re not quitting on me, it’s in your head, get out of your head and just play.” It turned out, they were right, and I forced myself not to quit on them.

That same line of thinking can be applied outside of playing lacrosse. This sport has taught me to stop overthinking situations and that my body can push a lot more than my mind thinks it can. Lacrosse can take you to many places you didn’t know.

Latrell Harris didn't plan to start his professional lacrosse career at age 18, but after losing his scholarship, that's how it turned out.

Not that this has been an issue for me, but if you have any enemies and they join your team, the relationship has to change. You can’t hold grudges against your own teammates. That ruins the whole system of a team, and this also stands true outside of the lacrosse realm.

The professional aspect of my lacrosse life has introduced me to ideas I didn’t previously understand. For example, giving back to youth and community mean a lot more than a million-dollar paycheck. You don’t understand how much it means to see kids smile when they see you or to overhear them whispering to their friends excitedly that you’re around until it happens. You never forget that stuff.

And there is no million-dollar paycheck in lacrosse, at least not for me right now. Playing lacrosse is one of my jobs, and it’s just one of them. I have to work other things to make ends meet. I’m a regular person most of the time – it’s only when I go out and play that I have any kind of “celebrity.” This isn’t the NFL or NBA. We have to work every day, then get with the boys on the weekends to do our thing.

But that’s part of the beauty. Playing lacrosse allows me to be free and express myself while living in a world where you have to act a certain way. There are no instructions or restrictions in lacrosse for me. I just go out and play. It gives me something I don’t get anywhere else in my life, and I don’t know how else I would get it otherwise.

In the end, playing lacrosse is fun. That’s a simplistic way of putting it, but that’s my reality. I love being in a lacrosse environment. I love being around lacrosse people. I love having lacrosse conversations. There’s no other way to put it.

I’m a lacrosse player. I’m comfortable here. Playing lacrosse is where I’m meant to be. This my life, and I wouldn’t want it another way.