Lacrosse is known as the fastest game played on two feet. Lacrosse takes coordination, endurance, and speed. Lacrosse originated from our Indigenous brothers and sisters who used it as preparation for war.
A number of years ago now, I suited up in my first lacrosse jersey. I tried many sports growing up but never enjoyed any to the extent that I enjoyed lacrosse. Box lacrosse is an indoor sport that is full contact. Lacrosse was my outlet for everything.
My lacrosse career was short lived. After sustaining a number of severe concussions, I had to give up playing my favourite sport. I resisted and tried to keep playing until I was told, “no more contact sports for life.” I was devastated. I felt that I had lost everything. My mum tried to keep me positive by reflecting back on all the great memories I had with lacrosse- all the great people I met, being selected and playing for Team Ontario at Nationals, and recalling my favourite highlight moments from my favourite games.
I couldn’t give up lacrosse completely. I am not sure if any of you have experienced something similar but after my concussions, I was put on ‘brain rest’. I was pulled out of everything- school, sports, volunteering, exercising, etc. To paint you a picture, I was in a dark room with limited brain stimulation for several weeks. After being isolated, I wanted to somehow stay involved with sports - even if it meant I couldn’t play. I became a referee and took my coaching certification.
At first there was nothing harder than trying to coach. I wanted to be out there with my teammates, but was stuck on the bench. I missed the feeling of being in my gear and playing until exhaustion. It took time before I started to really enjoy coaching.
I decided to go back and coach girls house league. I wanted to teach young players coming into lacrosse how to develop their skills tool box and how to play safe. The girl’s house league program has some contact, with teams ranging from young girls to high school seniors. Each line change is a different age group. I love coaching these players because the older players are great mentors to the younger players.
Coaching is an honour. I learn from my players all the time. It is amazing to watch the players’ skills improve each week and the excitement they get from playing. I am happy to see that others are feeling what I used to feel when I played.
Today was a great day. The players on our team translated the skills they learnt in practice into the game strategy flawlessly. No matter the score, our bench is always full of smiles and encouragement. Watching the players grow closer each game is something I admire about each of them. The players on our team come out each week with great attitudes and patience.
Volunteering with lacrosse is something I will always enjoy. Although sometimes I wish nothing more than to be out there playing myself, being a coach is that much more rewarding. I thank my players for the opportunity they give me each year.
For those of you who may be limited from something you are truly passionate about, getting involved in ways you hadn’t previously anticipated can be simply amazing. I encourage those of you with skills in sports, arts, music, etc. to try coaching or teaching. Mentoring young individuals is remarkable- they will teach you new things everyday.
For those of you experiencing different types of loss, remember it takes time to heal- physically and mentally. Don’t rush the healing period, and be rest assured that when you are done healing there will be opportunities for you. These opportunities may present themselves in ways different from what you had previously been striving for. It is important to focus on the positives and not the negatives.
Thank you to the players on our team for bringing me joy and keeping me involved in the sport that I had to walk away from.