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Play ON!

I’ve heard some terrible reasons for athletes dropping out of sports when they move onto college. There’s a lot of talk about recruiting and whether or not a player is “good enough” to play at the collegiate level or the window closing for being recruited by 10th grade, and I think that scares a lot of lacrosse players away from trying.

Here’s the truth, there is a team out there for anyone who wants to continue to play, regardless of age, skill level or athleticism. If you want to play – YOU CAN PLAY. It may not be Division 1, it may not even be Division III, but those are just classifications that determine who plays each other. Some of the best programs out there never get any press or huge awards. Some of the best coaches are hiding out building amazing experiences at a small school that might just be near you!

If the school you fell in love with doesn’t have a team, it doesn’t mean you’re done. Forming a team is a bit of work but I promise there are players who have experience or are wishing for something to learn right on your own campus.

Never let anyone tell you that you’re done playing!

Why do you play? It’s for the love of the game, of the sport, the family it creates for you, it’s not about the name on the front jersey but about the family of names on the back of the jerseys, that you belong too.

I’ve heard players say they may not continue playing sports in college because they just want to have a break and hang out with their friends. Here’s a piece of advice that you’ll hear from just about any adult who’s been there – partying is overrated. When you leave college and move onto your career there’s very few who look back and say, hey I wish I had spent more time partying. What you’ll hear instead is, I sure wish I’d been a part of something – especially something that I love, I don’t have time to do that anymore. As we move onto our adult lives, the opportunity to have 20-40 BFF’s who can stay up all night and just laugh until you can’t breathe just doesn’t present itself anymore and you’ll miss it. I promise.

If I could go back for even one more year and be a part of a team I would do it in a heartbeat. It’s what I miss the most and I don’t care who the team plays for, or if we’re the best team in the country, state or a no name team in the middle of nowhere. I just want to run down that field with my best friends around me while we face challenges, overcome obstacles, cheer together, cry together, be pushed and driven together.

Coaching gives me a small piece of that team feeling again, but there’s no equal to the actual player experience. Before you write off your chances of being a part of a lacrosse team after high school, take another look. Think about it a little bit more. No, it’s not too late and if someone tells you that your chances are over then walk away and find someone who knows what they are talking about. Even if you’re a senior, or already graduated high school or dropped out of college after a year and are going back to school. Every once in a while I think about that eligibility I have left and I wonder if my 37 year old joints could handle it, the love of the game never dies.

If you played and miss the game as much as I did, think about coming back as a coach. The lacrosse community needs you, and it just might fulfil something that has long been missing – even though you may have not even realized it. Can’t you still smell that spring grass and chilly air just after the rain as you took the field, mud splattering up against the back of your legs, stick in hand, adrenaline pumping?

Play as long as you can, be a part of something amazing and cherish every second and when youre done playing- come back and give the gift to the next generation.

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