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Long before the freezing cold games in February or March filled with highlight reel goals and players putting it all on the line to have a chance to win, college lacrosse players must endure a entirely different season months before where teams truly come together: Fall Ball.

With colleges starting up all over the country in the next few weeks, fall ball is here whether the players are ready or not.

The anticipation for all of your friends to get back to campus. Meeting the new freshmen and finding creative ways to work them into the family. Hoping you are prepared for the first run test. Eager for extracurricular activities on the weekends with your best friends. Ready to make this year the one you end raising a trophy.

Thousands of former college athletes would trade places with the current ones in a heartbeat. I would do it right now. This second.

Thanks to a torn ACL my senior year at Canisius College, I went through 5 years of fall ball instead of 4 with each one of them being so much different than the other. Every year I would think I was prepared and had worked hard enough over the summer, but there was always something that surprised me or an unexpected metric that made the semester a little more challenging.

The first episode of Inside Lacrosse’s “The Season” documentary titled “The Rise in Fall” from the 2018 season does a good job of capturing what fall ball is all about.

I will never forget the 6 AM runs as the sun rose, never ending sideline GBs drills, the simmering turf burning your feet, the Demske bees harassing you, fights during practice, blasting music in the locker room, the alumni games, almost beating Team Canada in a scrimmage, the Thanksgiving football game, the sled workout the morning after Halloween when we all might have had a little too much fun the night before, and endless memories of grinding it out in fall ball with my teammates.

Every team endures a different set of trials and tribulations during fall ball that bring the players closer together and allows the coaching staff to form the relationships that will let them work together to win games in the spring.

With the first game of the season being nearly 5 months away, it is easy to lose sight of why you are pushing sleds and running sprints at 6 AM in September. Those brutal mornings where your lungs sting from the cold air, your legs are on fire, and you ready to give up, but still push through it will define your team in the spring.

When you train in college on the field or in the weight room you are always with your teammates pushing each other to work harder and to be better. You are always finding ways to make reaching your personal and team goals fun along the way. Working out now with strangers at a Planet Fitness, passing joggers in a park, or even doing crossfit will never be as fulfilling as cheering on your best friends as they reach a new max bench press or win a sprint competition.

Players have to embrace the struggle to survive the grueling 3 months of workouts, practices, extra training or film, classes, and balancing a social life. You have to be all in or else you might find yourself spending more time on the bench than on the field come springtime, which I know all too well. I miss having such an amazing opportunity in front of me every fall, but I can’t wait to see what teams will have a productive fall and come out guns blazing in February.

I wish nothing but the best for every college athlete this upcoming school year, especially the freshmen who will begin this amazing journey. Your time is now.

Enjoy every moment.

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