This is my youngest son’s second year playing lacrosse. I have had the pleasure of being assistant coach for this season, which I’m happy to say we only lost 3 games. Even though in the under 9 league, we have tried to instill the fact that winning is not important. But as my son pointed out to me one day during an argument about training and attitude, “It’s not important to you, but to us, it is.”
    It has been amazing to watch the kids grow and learn how to play the game. But the best by far, has been to watch the bonds that they have formed over the course of the season. They have had great times, and bad as well. There have been celebrations, and arguments. And a couple times, I have seen them lash out in anger.
    A team is like a second family. There will be times when they don’t get along, but when you step back and take a good look, they really do love each other. I came into this family with more than a bit of trepidation. As I know the head coach did as well. I wasn’t sure I could do anything to help these kids focus, and practice. In truth, I was afraid of failure. I was afraid that the kids wouldn’t listen, and the parents wouldn’t like me. But, as I was once told, if you never step out of your comfort zone, you will never know what you are capable of.
    I have done what I could this season to help in any way I could. Anything from running some drills, to cheering up kids with hurt feelings or helping the injured kids out. My main mission this season, was to put smiles on their faces and watch them grow as a team, and enjoy something I never had the opportunity to. I believe I did a decent job.
    I remember growing up, and for my short time in college, I wanted to be a teacher. After this season, I now understand why. I love seeing something I teach, take root. I love the smile on a persons face when they get it. And I love the thought that maybe in some small way, I have made a positive difference in a persons life.
    At the post season party, there were awards being given to the children. It brought tears to my eyes to see the pride on their faces as they received their 2012 Vipers shirts. They were ecstatic about them. They have sweat, bled, and played together. They have won and lost. They have helped each other on the field. And I have no doubt that one day they will look back with fondness at the times they spent together.
    Then came the gifts to the coaches. It was odd to find myself included in this. I don’t usually think much of myself. I certainly am not used to praise of any kind. So it was a blow to my emotions to receive a shirt, as well as a card signed by all the team members. I managed to keep my composure, but I wanted to cry. I have never in my life felt like I have belonged to a group. I have never fit in. I have always called myself a lifelong student of life, but sometimes it takes awhile for lessons to sink into my brain.
    Besides the kids, the parents have been amazing as well. I have enjoyed our talks, and interactions. I am saddened that so many will be moving up to the u11 league next year, but at least we will still all be on the same team… just different age groups.
    There will only be two kids left on the u9 team next year, but I will never forget the kids who taught me a valuable lesson in life this year. I have always tried to listen to my elders, and have never really thought of children as teachers, but thanks to the 2012 Vipers I have learned that I finally belong… I finally fit in.
    Thank you all for being there and sacrificing your time for your kids. It’s great to see so many people out there at the games.  Thank you all for a great season. 🙂