Playing time and hard work beating talent

Ran into a number of you over the past week and a theme began to emerge. When I asked how your sons were enjoying HS lacrosse, “frustrated” was the word I heard most often. With few exceptions, “too little playing time” was the root cause. Unsaid but I’m guessing some conversations at home are focusing on whether to go out for lacrosse next year, let alone play this summer. Susan and I as you know, can empathize. Coop’s story has been told too many times so I wont bore you again.

Oh, if we could only turn back time. Your former MS coaches have 30+ kids on the 6th grade team and 30+ kids on the 5th grade teams. These boys and their parents really dont appreciate how good things are right now with our commitment to equal playing time. That will change in June when we go to Ohio’s Cup and for the first time in my memory, we will “cut” and take a select team where equal playing time will give way to “play to win”. Right or wrong, back when our boys were 6th graders, we went to Ohio’s Cup and stayed with equal playing time. Equal playing time is gone, baby gone for the Class of 2015, isnt it?
Looking at the pipeline of MS lax players on the way, the current crop of HS players, the relatively small number of seniors who will be graduating, the competition is fierce to say the least.
If history is any guide, the summer between freshman and sophomore year there’s a tipping point. Physically, the boys will go through more growth spurts and gain some new edges athletically. Two, mentally they will decide whether or not to stay committed to the sport or move on to other activities. The “playing field” will look different next school year. We are glad we stuck with lax and bball even in the face of the likely prospect coop wouldnt make the team and/or would never play.
Sure, looking back its easy to see The Charlton’s stayed on the right path; however, as the freshman season ended with Coop having not moved up from JV B, a season of little to no play and a ton of other poles and the upper classman seemingly stacked high in front of him, we had many sleepless nights wondering what to do. Honestly, Susan and I just wanted him to stay involved, busy and get some exercise. The big guy needed it! Ha Ha. He wasnt bitten by the lax bug, yet, but liked being part of a “team.” With basketball we went through this same drill all the way through senior year when every year it was a crap shoot whether he would make the team or get cut.
After the fact, we know now Hudson coaches want kids on their team that work hard, care about fellow teammates and give their all in practice even if they dont get in. Grady Forkin was the heart and soul of the basketball team. Rarely got in but all the coaches wanted him on the team because of his attitude and work ethic (just as long as they were insured his parents wouldnt email them constantly or ever about his lack of playing time). Grady just wanted to be a part of a team, any team so when he looked back on his HS years, he could check this off his bucket list. Looks like he did it again with rugby.
Coop reset his expectations in the face of his mom and dad laying down the law that he had to be involved in something, anything, 2 out of the 3 seasons. Coop made the upperclassmen and his peers better for game day because he played so tough against them in practice. Frosh, soph, jun and senior years he was told he was the last guy on the team, would never play and if he could deal with that, he was welcome to be part of the team. Some harsh truths but his expectations were set and he sallied forward. Looking back, he’s grateful he did.
With basketball throughout HS and lacrosse as a rising sophomore, Coop repeatedly pressed Susan and I real hard, very convincingly, to allow him not go out the next year because it was “hopeless”. He wouldn’t make the team and if he did he would never, ever get in. A time or two we almost relented, but then stuck to our guns that our kids need to play 2 sports in HS or play 1 sport and then be in a play or get a J.O.B. Anything to keep them engaged and busy and growing.  Funny, he had no interest in being in being a thesbian so it was back to sports. We just didnt like the prospects/pitfalls of cooper dealing productively with all the free time if he wasnt playing sports. We didnt “force” him to play lax or bball, but he knew he had to do something each season. I think he secretly wanted to NOT make the teams and be able to say “I told you so” but fortunately that never happened.
Coach Blues summer teams and camps, lax camps at colleges like UM, goalie camps (Bill Pilats at WRA), summer leagues, wall ball, Burning River, Under Armour Tryouts in June (for the experience; none of our boys will make the team at this stage/age), draft teams at colleges, there are a ton of summer options to take things to the next level, have fun and meet new people in this fastest growing sport on two feet. Check out Crooked Arrows, a movie out this month to stoke the fires.
I’m glad we hung in there for many reasons but one most especially: on our watch and at an ideally impressionable age and stage, Cooper got to learn an invaluable lesson: hard work can beat talent when talent doesnt work hard!
Best
DC

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