The national anthem plays as the crisp air chills you. Standing in line with the team ready to go to battle against a hated opponent. The anthem ends. The starting lineups are called and the fans cheer. The starters from each team arrange themselves at midfield in opposing lines eyeing each other up and down one last time. The goalies shake hands and the others follow suit in one last moment of civility. The teams jog to their positions tense and ready for the next 60 minutes of war. The faceoff men take their stances and put their sticks down with every fiber in their body ready to explode toward the ball. The referee puts the ball down and blows the whistle.
The players on the field begin the game, but 20 or 30 other members of each team are relegated to the sideline. They will not step foot on the field or have their name on the stat sheet. During those 60 minutes all they can do is cheer for their teammates making the plays, give them fist bumps, and try to stay warm as they stand a few feet away from where they wish they could be.
They are the Backups, Benchwarmers, and Misfits.
There is no way of sugar coating it. Standing on the sideline sucks.
Not everyone can be the star attackmen, two-way middie, shutdown defensemen, elite faceoff man, or reliable goalie. The ones on the field are there because they have the talent, worked their ass off, and give the team the best chance to win. The ones on the sideline are usually just a step behind them.
This upcoming lacrosse season many young players will find themselves on the bench because they aren’t quite ready, there is a better player ahead of them, their grades have been slipping, or they got themselves into trouble. It isn’t the end of the world.
Don’t give up. You can’t give up.
You are just as important to your team’s success as anyone else. On gameday, be the loudest person cheering on your teammates and echoing your coach’s calls. Come up with funny goal celebrations and yell as loud as you can. When times get tough during a game you have no idea how motivating it is for your teammates on the field to look and see their best friends supporting them no matter what the score is.
At practice, be the hardest worker on the field. Fight for every ground ball, dodge as hard as you can to the net, never give up on a play. It is your job to get your teammates ready for the next game. Scout team players often make or break a team’s chances of winning. You help win the games days before they are even played. Every member of the team is partially responsible for a team’s win no matter how small their contribution is.
The season is long, players get hurt, and changes will be made to the lineup. There will come a time when the Backup, the Benchwarmer, or even the Misfit are called by their coach to go into the game. Make sure you are ready for your moment.
It will be your turn to run onto the field and to look toward the sideline to see everybody now cheering for you knowing you are ready to do anything to help your team win.