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All Roads Lead to Lax

By Eric Witmer, 03/22/18, 6:15PM EDT

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It's a common phrase, however I think it can be taken for granted - I mean a Disney ride took the idea, and made a horror show out of it. Yes, it is a small world (after all), but it's a little bigger than we think at times. My brother is off gallivanting around Europe & beyond to grow the World Games in Israel. He recently went to Cypress, which is actually spelled Cyprus - I for one was unaware of that, and even less aware there was lacrosse to be played on an island in the Mediterranean. Did you see the schedule and groupings for this summer's games? Show it to a friend, and then record their reaction when they get to Bulgaria, or Luxembourg, or Uganda!

 

Having been to the World Games in Denver four years ago, my eyes were opened to how massive the game is becoming, and on a global scale it's really amazing. Somehow I overlooked the part where not everyone grew up dealing with snow and ice until April, but since I started volunteering with a college club program in downtown Denver, I've come to realize the game doesn't necessarily look the same to everyone. The world of lacrosse grows when you see people playing you didn’t think would be there playing, something I first saw here four years ago playing against the likes of Tokyo University and the Philippines team, and again very recently on a downtown college campus.  

 

Coming full circle, and now living in Denver, I get to work in the lacrosse industry and travel while running events, a very solid gig in my humblest opinion. There was, however, another itch I yearned to scratch – to coach. I’ve coached a summer team of middle schoolers in my hometown of Oswego, New York, and had a pretty great time winning only one game and usually holding practice with under 12 players. To stop itching and start scratching, I asked around through our men’s league and found a guy who coaches the downtown MCLA (Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association) team at CU – Denver campus, and asked if he’d like a volunteer. I was stoked he said ‘sure’ and I made plans with the office to be out of here early Mondays and Fridays to head down the street to catch the last 45 minutes of practice. That was the plan, but as we know, men and mice sometimes have great plans that get a hair off track. Allow me to elaborate:

 

Day 1 – team meeting – 10 men, one ineligible, no goalie

Day 2 – I arrived just in time for the team ball hunt, still no goalie

Day 3 – I headed to Vegas and missed practice, but heard whispers of a goalie.

Day 4 – I came back from Vegas with a smashed thumb, a bad wrist, and no voice, but I had my whistle so I chalked this up as my first successful day as ‘coach’. There was a goalie present – and I say was because he accepted an internship the next day and has never been seen since.

One thing I've been happily adjusting to is Colorado weather - March lacrosse in March in the 60s and sunny. Unexpected, but welcome. So, one day I was the outlet guy and just ran across the mid line for our goalie (yes, we got a permanent one) and defense to throw balls to, and got some sun. If there’s one thing I love – its completed long passes (and not practicing in the gym until April – looking at you, Western NY).

Recently we played 6 on 6! Normally, not a major accomplishment, but the men of the CU Denver Lynx lacrosse team, we’d done something significant, and everyone learned a lot.

We’ve now played four games and have come away 4-0. The team shows me new things every day – we have guys playing for the first time, guys who try out for national teams, guys who haven’t played since middle/high school – and they all make the experience what it is. The beauty of lacrosse, and a small team, is that they all get to play a role, and have an impact on the team’s development and success. You might not usually look at a guy who plays hockey, or hasn’t picked up a stick in 5 years, and ask them to play college lacrosse. I’m not sure where they all came from, but I’m glad we all ended up on the same sideline this season – and hopefully share the lacrosse world for years to come, especially the new guys – they have more lacrosse opportunities ahead of them than they likely can imagine. Hopefully I can show them the way as they get educated, and maybe chauffeur  them into the world of Men’s leagues, which I’ve grown to become a major support and advocate for. Any chance you have to keep picking up the stick, take it – maybe that’s today’s practice mantra – but I’ll have to see how numbers are, can’t waste the good lines on half the squad!