Tag Archives: like

Why I Don’t Play Anymore

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Whenever I ref a men’s club game or tournament, like I did this weekend, I invariably run into a former teammate or opponent from my playing days. After the usual pleasantries are exchanged I get asked the same question: “Why aren’t you playing today Corsetti?”

The short and funny answer is: “I’m not getting paid $50 bucks to play the game, but I do get paid that to ref it.”

The more complicated answer is: “I don’t want to play anymore.”

I rarely give out that second answer because I get a lot of perplexed looks from youth, high school, college, and men’s club players. None of them understand why I wouldn’t want to get out and mix it up with some buddies on a lacrosse field. I don’t think they believe me when I explain that if I never picked up a lacrosse stick again for the rest of my life that I would still die happy.

You see, I love lacrosse, but I never really liked playing. And that is a huge distinction to make.

Since I started playing in fifth grade at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse at Murphy Candler Park until I stopped in my final club game around 2011, I had trouble enjoying lacrosse while I played it. I had a blast with my teammates, and I rejoiced when we won games, but there was a darker side that I never liked.

Since I began playing as a child I never fully enjoyed a game because I was so self-critical. Every mistake I made was magnified in my mind as being the worst mistake ever made on a lacrosse field. I had fun, sure, but I was also plagued by self-doubt and a ridiculously critical inner-voice. As I grew older and played in more competitive games that self-doubt turned into anger. Eventually the game wasn’t any fun no matter what the final score was.

I spent ten years playing lacrosse turning much of my anger towards myself, and at twenty-two years old I played a men’s club game out in north Georgia with some friends. The team played well, I played well, we won with a comfortable lead, and I was miserable driving home. I was miserable because I got stripped of the ball on a clear. I was pissed off at myself in a game that had zero meaning. So I made the decision then and there that I no longer wanted to play lacrosse.

I never liked playing lacrosse, but I loved the game then and I love it now. The only difference is I get to officiate, which allows me to cultivate a mental attitude that I am much happier with. For me, the best part about officiating is that I only have one metric that I judge myself on, which is:

  1. Did I give everything I had to the two teams playing?
    • As one high-level official I met said, “If the players are going to give 100%, I am going to give 100%.”

The second best part about officiating is that you never win and you never lose. You either did a good job or you didn’t. For some reason that tiny difference turns my competitively hot anger against myself into a cool anger. When I make a mistake that cool anger keeps me hyper focused on the game in front of me, and it drives me to make sure that I don’t commit any more mistakes for the rest of the game.

Officiating lets me be my self-critical self without being destructive. I tell people who ask me why I officiate the following:

When I ref a game I get to be the calm center of the swirling tornado around me. I step on and off the field with a calm and relaxed mindset. That makes me happy.

I’m still competing to be the best lacrosse official I can possibly be, but it took me over fifteen years to realize that while lacrosse is a competitive game, it is still just a game, and I’m not going to crucify myself mentally for not hitting my generally too-high standards.

I love lacrosse, and I like officiating. So that’s what I’m going to stick with until I can transfer my officiating mentality into my playing mentality.

Featured Image Credit – http://melaniexyz.deviantart.com/art/Hanging-up-the-Cleats-184435915

Cheers,
Gordon

Speaking With Conviction And Authority

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Ever since I was a kid I was told that I spoke like an adult. This observation has always confused me, but now that I am more of an adult it is making a little more sense. The more I interact with young kids, high schoolers and collegiate athletes the more I realize how most lack conviction and authority when they speak. The young kids I get, they have no reason or experience to have conviction or authority, but the young adults in high school and college, for the most part, lack those attributes when speaking.

This kills me as a coach and youth officials trainer. For every team I coach the only major thing I demand is that they are loud at practice and in games. It takes me a week or two, but I can generally get any player at any age to get louder than they were when they started. You can’t be timid or quiet on a lacrosse field and expect to get anywhere. My big problem is many of the players coming into lacrosse have spent most of their lives being told to pipe down. When they finally get the opportunity to speak up, they don’t know how.

I will let Taylor Mali, a fantastic poet, make his point about the importance of conviction and authority:

I don’t find it surprising that people consistently rank public speaking as a greater fear than death. Humans are social creatures and the fear of embarrassing ourselves in front of our peers or strangers can be downright terrifying. What I don’t get is why we let kids off the hook about how they talk. I took a public speaking class in middle school, and one teaching technique got rid of every student saying “um”. The teacher had one of us stand in front of the class and would hand us an index card with a topic on it. We never knew what the topic was, and that was the point. We had ten seconds to think about the topic and then we had to speak for five minutes on that topic.

Once the five minute clock started we had to talk continuously, but anytime we uttered “um”, “like”, and “you know” the teacher squirted us in the face with cold water from the spray bottle he held. I once had to speak about fermenting grapes into wine. I had no clue about how to ferment grapes and I got sprayed with water for the full five minutes. By the end of the school year most of us had gotten proficient at removing “um”, “like”, and “you know” from our public speaking vocabulary, but the interesting side effect was those phrases dropped out of our normal conversations as well.

I spend season after season teaching youth officials and youth players how to speak because no one teaches them how to find their own voice. And if they never learn to speak strongly with their own voice they will stand quietly on the field and watch those who can pass them by.

Cheers,
Gordon

Make Your Coach Like You

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I received the best piece of advice on how to be coached after two years of playing lacrosse:

“It does not matter if you like the coach. It does matter if the coach likes you.”

This is an interesting lesson to learn at 11 years old. What do you mean I have to make the coach like me? I’m young and generally cheerful how can I possibly not be liked? Well there are a few reasons that I will list for you and I am guilty of committing all of them:

  1. No hustle in practice – At the very least jog to where you need to be. Nothing bugs a coach more than waiting to start a drill because everyone is walking to the huddle.
  2. Complaining and/or whining – Every player will someday say these words: “I’m tired. This is hard. When is practice over? When do we get to do something fun?” As a youth coach hearing these words is the exact equivalent of one hundred tiny monkeys crawling over my head armed with miniature icepicks, which they repeatedly jam into my head. If you are going to gripe do it out of earshot of the coach.
  3. Being Late – Parents this applies to you as well as the youth players. Lateness disrupts a practice plan, especially if multiple players are late. Get into the habit of showing up five minutes early for practice because your high school coach will not take pity on you or your teammates. I have run far more wind sprints than I care to remember for late teammates.
  4. Asking when you get to go into the game – The entire reason players practice is to play, but if there are twenty-two kids on a team twelve will sit on the bench at any given time. Nothing makes me want to keep a kid on the pine more than hearing “Coach, I haven’t gotten in yet.” Players, trust that your coaches at the youth level will make every effort to keep playing time as equal as possible, but occasionally he will forget. Remind him politely at halftime. If you still don’t get in for the rest of the game find me, or an AYL Staff member, and we will make sure you get in.
  5. I forgot my _____ – In ten years of attending practice I forgot my helmet once and my stick once. I understand forgetting equipment occasionally. Do not make forgetting your gear a habit. If it happens once a season, then fine. If it happens every other practice I will eventually bring duck tape to practice and I will bind the gear to your body for a week.
  6. “Dude, bro, guy, buddy” – A coach is a Coach, with a capital “C.” Or if his name is John Doe – Coach Doe. And if you forget Coach Doe’s name, saying sir never hurts. Keep the pet names for your friends.
Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Always remember that if you are on a coach’s good side good things will happen to you. You can stay on the good side by not complaining, hustling everywhere, and showing him respect even if you think he does not deserve it. Learn this lesson now and you will be well prepared once you tryout for your High School lax team.

Featured Image Credit – www.123rf.com

Cheers,
Gordon