Rough outing for the Hoosiers. Alliteration all over the place.
As it has previously been stated by Helfrich, Helfrich again, Tref Daddy, and Coach, we went 0-3 this weekend. While there was plenty of frustration, it definitely was another learning experience for a young team. To quote junior defenseman Jon Teng, “I hate moral victories.” As a competitor you want to win, plain and simple. You want to be in a position to win every game on your schedule, but with all the youngsters on this team, we have to be patient with each other and use what we learned to get better. I’ll have to give Coach Tumbas and the rest of the staff a ton of credit. Obviously they expect us to come out and perform from the first whistle but they’ve been great at turning positives into negatives.
Let me elaborate.
They understand that we are learning a new system and that a lot of the starters are young which means they are constantly learning on the fly. Learning on the fly simply means they’re picking up how things work during games, which isn’t the ideal place to do so, especially when you’re trying to win games at the same time. The coaching staff has been patient with us in that they understand this and use this as learning points. When we do something well, they reinforce it. When we do something poorly, they let us know. It’s good to play the experienced teams we’ve played so far because we all see what it takes to be a good team. Seeing how Virginia Tech, Tennessee, UConn, and Texas A&M talk on defense or move the ball translates to practice. Each week the offense moves the ball a little faster, cuts with a purpose, and understands why you are in a certain position on a play. Lacrosse is a great team game because you need to know why things happen, a lot like basketball. Your pick has to be at the 3 point line or at the top of the box because that will make a switch or a slide much longer for the defense so they get pulled out of position. If you’re not talking on defense in basketball, you’re gonna get back-doored all day long. It’s the same thing in lacrosse all you Hoosier Staters. If your head isn’t on a swivel you’ll run into a pick and lose your man. A great example of learning from more experienced teams happened this weekend. Coach Garvey was stressing talking and listening to the goalie who is essentially the quarterback or point guard because they see the whole field. We needed to communicate on defense and we weren’t. Coach Garvey had enough during the UConn game and said, “Listen to them. Listen to how loud their defense is and listen to us. You don’t hear anything. That’s not how you play defense.”
I think that helped us get the message because the first two games this weekend we gave up 33 goals. Sunday morning we gave up 9. Well 10 counting a very well placed and executed fast break goal in overtime. Still haven’t won an overtime game since 8th grade.
Good coaches know when to get on your ass (please excuse mon français) and they know when to pat you on the back. Our coaches know when to do this. Coach Tumbas will be the first person to let you know when you make a mistake and what you did wrong. He’s also the first person to give you a high five or fist bump after you did the right thing. As someone who has had plenty of good coaches and plenty of bad coaches, I can appreciate that. All of our coaches understand how to motivate each individual player. I’ve coached in plenty of camps and summer teams and you learn that every kid is different and you can’t take the same approach to everyone. I think they figured out that they can get on my case. My whole life that’s what coaches needed to do to get me going. I was frustrated, taking dumb penalties when we were getting blown out, taking bad angled shots trying to do too much, and not playing smart. I’ll abbreviate it, but essentially Coach said “you’ve been good for at least two dumb penalties a game this weekend and being man down isn’t going to help us win.” The same went for the bad angled shots. While I did finally score on Friday on a one-handed shot coming from x, getting top side, and drawing the goalie out of the cage, the rest of my shot looks were not very good and were fueled by frustration. After coach let me know about it, I didn’t take any bad shots on Sunday that were easy saves for the goalie, which would have lost us possession and gave the ball back to the opponent. Good coaching.
Coach DeMars is one of our midfield coaches so we have all come to know him pretty well. He did a good job of helping me keep a cool head even when frustration levels were high. But he didn’t just help me, he was talking to a lot of the guys and you can tell he helped us relax a little. This helped out big time in the A&M game, even though we ended up losing.
Coach Syverson is another young coach we have who also works with the midfield. He was up in the press box for two of the games and brought some really good suggestions at halftime, which helped us a lot on Sunday. Seeing the field from up there slows the game down from what it looks like on field level. He huddled us up at halftime and told us to keep cutting because the defense kept turning their heads to follow us. This left freshman Nick Fletcher wide open quite a few times, 5 goals worth of times.
It sucks to lose. It sucks losing when you like your coaching staff as much as we do because you want to win for all of those guys. They’re pretty much on a volunteer basis and they work just as hard as we do so you want to show them that their time and effort wasn’t for nothing. They care about winning as much as we do so I feel bad when they have to ride home with us after a loss. If we play even better than we did on Sunday and practice like we did last night, I think we’ll give those guys something to smile about this weekend.
Good Things Actually Happened Too
As I said last week, I would be running into some former high school teammates and great friends. I’ll have to apologize to my main man Karl Hueglin, I didn’t realize he was still playing, so that was an awesome surprise to see him out there. I talked to Dom for a bit before the game, and of course we all talked and took a wonderful group picture for all the mothers after the game. Here’s the Wilton boys.
Sherman was dressed as a civilian for the weekend. After inquiring, Jon Lombardi, their head coach said “Go ahead ask him why he’s not dressed right now.” To which Sherman replied, “I left my cup at home.” I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t one week during high school lax where someone forgot something in the lockerroom. Damn Wilton kids. It was nice to see all of them so far away from home. It was not nice that they got the better of us 20-4 and I’m sure they won’t let me forget about it.
Even though Sherman couldn’t play, he did take some very nice action shots. UConn looked super clean all weekend long. While I’m not a fan of an all white helmet, it did look really good when they had on all whites and they only have two primary colors like us, the school doesn’t use red too much these days, so it was acceptable.
Friday night coach told Redish, Will McClain, Ryan Ashton, Peter Moore, and myself to wait outside the bus after we all got off. He told us that Tennessee had organized a trip to a local Memphis children’s hospital the next morning and that he chose us as represenatives for our school to join the other 3 teams to visit some kids. If you recall, I did an interview with Rob Mills, President of West Virginia’s team. He mentioned that they make regular visits to the children’s hospital in Morgantown. I was pretty excited but I’ll have to admit that I was extremely nervous.
I never minded doing community service. I think it’s really important to do regardless of whether your school, sport, or religion makes you. I also love working with kids. I think it might be because I’m an older brother. But kids are fun because of their high energy and their involuntary ability to live in the moment. All they really know or understand is the present because that’s what is happening at that moment. It’s refreshing to see their positive attitudes and carefree nature even if the world around them isn’t. I guess that’s why I never hated being a camp counselor or coaching younger kids.
I was nervous because I didn’t know how I would react to knowing that some of these kids would be terminally ill and fighting for their lives. I understand the importance of visiting them and making them happy even if it’s just for a little while. So for many years I selfishly avoided doing this because I didn’t want myself to feel bad, and that’s a pretty bad attitude. I thought that I would get attached or something and I was afraid to learn what kind of illness they had. I’m pretty mad at myself for putting it off for so long.
But without knowing it, Coach Tumbas threw me right in there, and I have to thank him because it forced me to participate in something that I might not have ever done. I’m really glad I did.
The bus picked us up at around 9:30 Saturday morning and we were greeted by one of the Tennessee players and a group of UConn kids. We all chit-chatted for a little while until we wound up outside of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Inside there were the rest of the Tennessee group, a group of Texas A&M guys, and MCLA President and A&M head coach Tony Scazzero. You might recognize him and his epic moustache from the front few pages of the MCLA Mag everyone month as he does a small write up entitled “State of the MCLA”, which is a must read if you get the magazine.
So we split into groups, Tennessee and UConn went to two floors and we went with A&M to two other floors. Apparently we didn’t get the memo that you should bring something to give to the kids, but the hospital provided stuffed animals to hand out to the smaller kids so we didn’t show up empty handed. Texas A&M really stepped it up with a tote full of tee shirts and shorts. They were nice enough to give them out to nurses and anyone else who wanted one because of their huge surplus of leftover tournament gear. Of course I made sure to grab one before leaving and being the fan of Thanksgiving that I am, I grabbed a fall ball shirt with a cornicopia on the back, so solid.
Even though we were on a lacrosse trip, it was nice to meet some new people and not have to talk about lacrosse the entire time. The A&M kids were really friendly, which broke the ice easily and right away. It took away some of the anxiety I was feeling as we were taking the elevator up. Jeff learned that he had played against one of them during his high school days in Dallas. It’s funny how much you relate to people off the field. During the the game, everyone is competitive and there usually isn’t much time to talk on the field, unless of course you’re an attackman or defenseman.
I learned that Coach Scazzero actually hails from New York in an area not too far away from my home. He and his brother decided to open up a chain of restuarants in Texas and that’s how he found his way down there and hasn’t left since. He brought some East Coast lacrosse to Texas, and unintenionally started to Grow The Game.
In order to not be too overwhelming, the nurse would knock on the door and ask if they would mind having some visitors who are college lacrosse players. If they were sleeping or did not want any visitors we would put something in their cubby next to their door based on their age and gender so that they could go get it later on. We had about 10 people in our group so we would go in a few people at a time.
The nurse told us the rules and said not to ask what their illness was unless the patient wanted to share it and if they did share we would have to abide by the patient confidentiality rule and not share it with others. The first 2 rooms had sleeping kids so we placed things in the cubby. Then we got our first kid who wanted visitors. Me and a few others hung back while about half of the group went in to say hi and give them a gift.
We then moved on to the next room. We were told it was a 13 month old girl, so one of the A&M players reached into the bag of stuffed animals and pulled out a white bunny. I immediately said that would be a good one and he replied, “It’s all you buddy.” I can’t remember being that nervous and anxious is a really long time. I didn’t know what to expect and I’m sure it sounds really funny to a lot of you but I’m not lying. The nurse told us to go ahead and go into the room.
I walked in the room slowly to not startle the little girl. Her mother was smiling and I saw a really happy kid playing in the room which helped put me at ease a little. The girl noticed I had the bunny so I bent down to the floor so she could walk up and get the gift. I tried to speak and I completely froze. I had no idea why. Couldn’t say anything. So I just smiled and held the stuffed animal out so I didn’t look like I was completely at a loss for words and totally awkward. Luckily one of the A&M guys had done this before and he started talking. Asking what her name was and how old she was. My present giving experience probably lasted only 5 seconds but it felt like an hour. Once he started talking with the girl’s mother I was able to speak and not be a weirdo. It was awesome to see happy she was to have visitors and it was really nice to hear how much her mother appreciated us stopping by.
I felt pretty silly after that and I still don’t understand why I used to be scared. But the rest of the visit went really well and it was nice to know that we made some families happy for a little while. We met some great lacrosse people and we met some strong families who were going through some tough times. The was a lot of perspective gained and those situations make you realize that family and loved ones are always much more important than school or lacrosse will ever be. Sometimes people just need somebody to talk to. Even though the kids are the ones who are sick, their family is going through a battle of their own and they can use a visitor just as much as the kids. I’m sure the other IU guys had the same experience. I’m really happy that I finally got to do that and I look forward to doing more volunteering like that in the future. It was a great idea by the Tennessee team.
Just remember; for every one of us that is outside playing lacrosse or whatever sport it is you love, there is a sick kid somewhere who wants nothing more than to just say hi and talk to you for a few minutes.
Music For Your Ears
Happy Wednesday friends. I’m in a good mood. Let’s go with a classic for the remainder of the work week. Outcast- Ms. Jackson
The grammar police is back. Their is possessive, they’re is a contraction of they are, and there is a location. Your is the possessive form and you’re is a contraction of you are. YOU’RE WELCOME.
The Bloomington ULax league will be kicking off for their sophmore season. Only four teams this year though, step it up BTown. I almost signed up for it this year, maybe I’ll make an appearance next year. There’s still time to register, contact Peter and Mac at [email protected] More info is on the website.
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Special thanks to Tennessee and Memphis University School for hosting an awesome weekend. Another thanks to all the teams that came, it was a long drive for everyone, especially the UConn boys. Thank you Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for allowing us to come visit the kids and their families.