For many in the lacrosse world, the most important season starts in the first weeks of January. College lacrosse season for fans and players is the most exciting time of the year. What fans don’t see is the players earning their spots on frozen fields and these first few weeks being some of the best and toughest times of their young lives.
Whether a team is Division 1, 2, 3, or club, they all begin the year with hope for a championship and for accolades, for this year to be the best one yet.
Last year was my last season of college lacrosse and I know I will miss the journey of the season and every small moment that leads the team to victory in May or that last devastating defeat.
The first team meeting and anticipation for the first practice. The first time back in the locker room, first run test, the first practice plan, and that sleep the night before visualizing yourself on the field. You can feel the anxious energy from every player and coach as you get ready in the locker room before practice. The tension building during stretch. Did I run enough over break? Play enough wallball? Watch enough film?
New cleats burning your feet as you try and run the first passing drill perfectly or sprint down the field during the fast break drill. New gloves not yet broken in making it hard to control your stick the way you should be able to.
New stick feeling just right stinging corners, throwing break out passes, or landing a perfect check. New stick throwing straight into the ground, over your teammates head, or breaking on a crosscheck.
The practices in the snow being the coldest days of your life. Helping shovel the field to clear a spot to practice. Breathing hard after a drill the cold stinging your throat. Mesh freezing and not being able to feel your toes. Still running as hard as you can to get that groundball.
The struggle to get back into the rhythm of lacrosse after a long holiday break. The ebb and flow of a high paced practice.
Those first practices always feel different.
Fallball was intense, but the stakes were not as high as they are now. Not caring that you are dodging against your roommate or slashing them. Wanting to impress the coaches and not wanting to let your teammates, your best friends, down. So much potential for a great year.
The team starts to come together as players work to be starters or to get playing time. After weeks of hitting and battling your own teammates, the preseason scrimmages offer one last chance to make your case and to see what this year’s team can do against an opponent.
A week later all of the hard work and all of the bruises will be made worthwhile. It is finally gameday. This is the just another step on the journey, but the first one that will truly matter on a sheet of paper. Every faceoff, groundball, save, goal, assist, and every play is important and will mean so much more. Every small win helps the team reach their goal.
I am looking forward to cheering on all of the young men and women around the country that get to start their new seasons in the next few weeks. Do not be afraid to talk to your coaches and do not doubt yourself. You will get strength as you go along this journey. Enjoy every moment with your team and enjoy the great game that you all have the incredible opportunity to play.
Let the journey begin.