I was halfway through page 198 of Bill Bryson’s memoir, “A Walk In The Woods”, when the roar of the massive Boeing engine suddenly vanished. I slammed my book shut and tucked it into the seat pocket in front of me. A sharp pain rocked my sinuses and blurred my vision; the clear and familiar indication that our plane was changing elevation. My heart hit my throat and sweat filled my hands. As I scanned the plane through squinting eyes I noticed that none of the passengers were concerned at all with what was happening, in fact most of them remained in peaceful slumber, reclined in their seats. I squeezed the armrests and pressed my sweaty forehead against the small oval window of aisle 11.
I watched the shadow off our plane roll across the beautiful landscape below. Wonderful mountains, mystical clouds, and forever fields. It took a while, but I eventually talked myself out of a panic attack. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have begun our descent into Salt Lake City, flight attendants please prepare the cabin for arrival”, the captain said in a cool tone over the muffled loud speaker. I really hate flying. I hate absolutely everything about it.
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I took a deep breath as our plane finally came to a stop at the terminal. I followed the signs to the baggage claim area and retrieved my goods. I unzipped my bag to check on the contents and noticed that my glide cam was broken and my lacrosse stick was just about snapped in half. I wasn’t shocked. I am convinced that if you were to open the back door to the baggage wing in any airport in the world it would look just like WWF Monday Night Raw. The employees would all be dressed in spandex briefs with knee high vinyl boots. Our bags would fall off of a conveyer belt that leads into a ring where the angry handlers take turns piledriving and suplexing our bags into the turnbuckles. I think the nature boy Ric Flair works for United Airlines. Like I said, I hate everything about flying.
I jumped in a cab and met the Adrenaline family in downtown Salt Lake for dinner. It has become a bit of a tradition to break bread with them the night before every LXM event. They are a great group of friends that truly understand and appreciate the “real” beauty of the game. I really enjoy their company; pun intended. We concluded our ceremonial meal with a cup of coffee, picked up Sean Lindsay from the airport, and made the 45 minute journey to Orem, Utah.
I checked into the hotel, dropped my bags off in the room, and hung out with Dante for the night. I hadn’t seen him in a while. I immediately noticed a difference in his appearance; as I would soon find out, he just got his knee operated on and can finally start working out with full intensity again. He looks like he received Laird Hamilton leg implants and traded torsos with LL Cool J. He is skinny, but strong. We had a great conversation, as always, and then I shut it down and got some rest for the following day’s festivities.
After a breakfast of champions at the International House of Pancakes with my buddy Henry, I threw my gear on my stick and drove over to the fields. I pulled up to a festival like atmosphere. It was immediately obvious that Utah was excited to have this event in their backyard. There were hundreds of kids and several fields. I walked through the vendor village and asked an Adrenaline employee where the LXM game field was, and she directed me towards field 6. As I made my way there I passed a sumo wrestling station; the kids competed by wearing inflatable sumo suits in a ring. I stopped and watched a couple matches. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to try it.
Once I arrived at field 6 I met up with my old friend Kyle Harrison. Kyle is the man. He is obviously a great player but more importantly a great person. He is truly a great ambassador for our game. At ten o’clock Kyle, Dante, and myself put on an instructional clinic for about two hundred kids and their parents. I always find it fun to do clinics in emerging lacrosse areas where the kids are like sponges and ready to absorb everything you throw at them. I grew up in an area like that so I can relate to their excitement and enthusiasm.
At 2:30 the game started. Here is my recollection of how the game went.
Kyle Harrison scored a bunch of goals. Maxx Davis made a diving kick save. And he got MVP. I missed the goal a thousand times. I had tons of fun playing. I got mad at a ref. We lost.