I hated weighing 145 pounds. I hated not having the size of a traditional defenseman. I hated that my physical appearance did not immediately strike fear into the opposing attackmen. However, I loved my field presence. I loved my agility. I loved that I could throw one check and scare the fight out of most players on the field. I loved my war cry.
I had a hard time coming to terms with my lack of bulk. In my mind, successful defensemen were elephant big. Sure they look slow, but they could stampede over you at any moment. Voltair once said, “each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” I was never dealt the size card but I played the ones I had like a maestro.
Since I was never going to be 6’2″, 220 lbs I needed a way to earn my playing time. I looked at the cards I had and invested time in developing three of them. First was speed. I was, and still am, pretty quick. I played the game fast and took hold of Coach Gannon’s motto, “if you make a mistake make it at a million miles an hour.” Second was anticipation. Having played the game since 5th grade there were not many in-game situations I had not already seen. I knew where the ball was going 95% of the time and could put myself in very advantageous positions because of that foresight. Third was technique. As a smaller defenseman I was never going to shove an attackman around. Instead, I focused on turning my lacrosse stick into a scalpel. Sticking it between opponent’s hands and ripping the stick free of their bodies. Yard sales became my speciality.
Speed, foresight, and technique were my tangible cards on the field but there was one more intangible that pulled them all together. I was intense, wild, and a little crazy on the field. I wanted to do two things in every game: energize my team and demoralize our opponent. I did that by never stopping on the field or on the bench. I was always yelling encouragement, patting players on backs, and belting out war cries when our team did something wildly cool.
Because I found what worked for me on the field I earned playing minutes sophomore year, starting minutes junior year, and leadership minutes senior year. Even though I was never the typical defenseman I had skills that turned me into a quality player for my high school career.
So if you feel down because you do not fit the mold for your position – break the mold! If you can’t shoot to save your life as a midfielder work on your defensive skills. If you are a giant attackman then plant yourself on the crease and work on shooting with both hands. If you are a small defenseman then work your technique until you yard sale everyone you play against. Find what works for you and you will find your game.
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