As a high school senior, I thought I was going off to college to earn a degree and play some lacrosse, and that I would make some friends along the way. When I got there, it only took me about a month to realize that I actually went there to meet my lifelong best friends. Lacrosse would simply be something that we all had in common, something that would provide us with endless memories created all across the American east, from Michigan to Florida.
All of a sudden, it was early May, 2012, and the college playing days of my senior class were quickly coming to a close, with only the Senior Day season finale remaining. The nine of us that came to the school as freshmen from five different states were finally feeling what it meant to look back and feel like it all happened way too fast.
During my class’s senior dinner, the father of my career-long college roommate – let’s call him Big Joe – stood and raised his glass for a toast in a room full of the players, our families, and the coaching staff. He had many great things to say about the nine of us, and how we truly became a family so quickly. Having lived close enough to our school to have interacted with all of us throughout the years, he explained to the other parents that our bond was something really special, something that’s very rare in this life.
And he was right; we all committed to each other as family from the moment we first met on campus, before we even fully learned about one another. We created and maintained a bond unique only to us – and there we were, at the end of the ride.
What he closed the toast with is a quote that you may have heard before, but was new to me at the time and changed the way I see life forever:
“There are good ships, and wood ships – the ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”
It wasn’t a reminder that the nine of us needed to hear as far as how we should start treating each other. All of us are still the best of friends that now span four time zones. We make time to see each other every year, sometimes multiple times a year. Rather, the quote that Big Joe delivered validated our success in the way we carried ourselves and treated each other over the course of our four years at the school and in the lacrosse program. He saw what we had over our careers, and took the opportunity to commend us for showing what it means to stand by the family you choose, no matter what.
In life, whether it be through sports, school, work, passions, or relationships, we will develop true, lasting friendships. They’ll go through highs, lows, rough patches, and even long periods of time without seeing the other person. We must remember and tend to the vessels that carry us through life’s waters. Through the tropics and the storms, when the water is deep or shallow, your friendships that you cultivate along the way are some of the most important and rewarding things in life. They truly will get you to and through everything that life throws at you. Personally, I can thank lacrosse for steering me right into the courses of those other eight men, and I think it goes the same for a lot of us in the lacrosse community.
Invest in your friendships. Invest in the family you choose and stand with them in their highs and their lows. Make time for them, because the grass is greenest where you water it. You’ll be thankful you did, many times over.