The Exhilaration Of The Weekend Lacrosse Tournament

Having just wrapped up the summer tournament season (my 8 year old son playing in the U11 division and me having coached a JV high school club team), I am compelled to reflect how fall and summer lacrosse tournament seasons are a great modern evolution of the great sport of lacrosse.  I so wish this existed in my youth and high school playing days, because it has grown to be one of the most exciting and fun aspects of being a lacrosse player.

Club Choice

While a player is forced to play for a particular coach for a particular middle school or high school team during his or her spring season, fall and summer tournament seasons offer players the opportunity to experience different coaches and playing with different players.  This diversity of experience and freedom to choose a particular team and coach is mentally beneficial to the innate free spirit of most lacrosse players, while enabling a player to experience different coaching philosophies that they may grow from.

Lacrosse Takes Over The Town

The full weekend tournaments draw the best club teams from all over a given state.  In my home state of Florida, that includes teams that may travel from as far as a 6-7 hour drive and given the destination aspect of Florida as a tourist state, the tournaments even commonly draw teams from out of state.

The result is a given venue whose area hotels are sold out with lacrosse families, restaurants are full of lacrosse players and lax families, and while teams may come from all over, there is a feeling of connection among the players and families created by the common bond of the sport of lacrosse.  When at these tournaments, one cannot turn one’s head without seeing lacrosse sticks, lacrosse gear, and lacrosse apparel.

Fast-Paced Exciting Lacrosse

The running clock playing two 20-22 minutes halves creates a rapid pace of play that places a sense of urgency to strike as early and often as possible.  In this style of lacrosse, getting in a hole early can be very difficult to climb out of in comparison to the regular season with 4 quarters of play and constant stoppage of the clock during dead ball situations.

If you win there is not much time to celebrate having another game to play usually within an hour.  If you lose, you need to have a short memory because you have little time to shake it off and try again in the next game.

An Abundance Of Lacrosse

Most tournaments guarantee 4-5 games in a weekend.  Thus, it is not uncommon to play 3 games day one, 2 games day two, and possibly a 6th on day two if you advance to the finals.  It is a mental and physical grind where only the most conditioned and skilled players shine.

Most clubs play a 3 tournament season over a 2 months, one month to practice and build chemistry with players from multiple programs many of whom have not played together, then the second month to knock out the tournaments.  This past season, for example, that translated to my boys having played 15 games from lat May to mid June over a 3 week period.

Bonding With Your Child

Whether playing youth or high school, the quality time spent with your child at these events is incredible.  Travelling together, staying in hotels, and going out to dinner with teammates and other team parents creates beautiful quality time among families.  Cheering your children on all weekend as they play their hearts out in the game they love reinforces in them that we support them and are behind them 100%.

The summer and fall lacrosse tournament seasons have been a very positive development for the sport.  It provides an unparalleled diverse and exhilarating experience for lacrosse players that binds them to the sport in a very special way.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

The Erosion Of Self Accomplishment In Children

In all of my years of coaching lacrosse (9 years and counting), I have experienced milder variations of what I just experienced a couple of days ago, but never anything like this.  Profound new insights or experiences that are good or bad are what drive a blogger to write, and I knew that I was compelled to write about this incident.  It just took me a couple of days to 1.) cool down and 2.) put it in the proper perspective to create awareness about a negative that will hopefully lead to a positive impact.

The elite high school team that I head coach has two tournaments under our belt this summer season, with one more to close the season this weekend at the Florida Cup.  We had a great showing in the last tournament having gone 4-1 and making it to the semi-final round, finishing third overall.  The team is feeling great heading into our last action this season and morale is high.

After the conclusion of practice this past weekend, the parent of one of my players approached me after practice and asked me if his son would see more playing time in the upcoming tournament.  My answer was that it would depend on the circumstances of each game we were in (his son is a a nice kid, but relatively less experienced and at this time is a second string player).  Without any further discussion, the player’s father erupted into a profanity laden tirade and accused me of being a fraud and conning him out of the money he paid to register his son for the travel team; that I should be ashamed of myself for accepting registration fees when his son was not going to play (mind you, I am a volunteer coach, the club is a not for profit organization, and I cover my own travel expenses in addition to donating my time without even having a son playing on this team).

Despite this father’s inappropriate and very public tirade, I calmly pointed out that his son had in fact played at least 25% of the time even in tight games, and in games where we had comfortable leads or were out of reach for us, our second lines, his son included, got the lion’s share of the playing time to get them as much experience as possible.  He called it garbage time, told me his family was done with us, informed his son that his season was over, and bounded off the field.

Let us put aside how absolutely out of line this person was for treating a volunteer coach in that manner and look at the even great picture here.  Despite that fact that I have repeatedly reiterated to parents and players that making the roster of my elite team is a remarkable accomplishment, but their commitment, attitude, and execution on the field will determine their playing time, that there are no guarantees of playing time; this father just taught his son that because he wrote a check, that he was entitled to more playing time than he was getting.  And in light of this, rather than encourage his son to continue to improve to earn more minutes, he forced him to quit.

I want to be clear that I take issue with the father’s behavior in this matter.  At no time did I ever note any frustration or sense of entitlement from my player.  In fact, he dutifully showed up to practice every day, was very coachable, and had indeed improved a great deal this season because of his experience playing this level of ball, being taught by a coaching staff of positional specialists committed to giving each player one on one instruction to grow their game.  I felt terrible for the young man who’s father embarrassed him in front of his teammates and other parents in our lacrosse community.  I feel terrible for the fact that he had to quit because I know that had it been his choice, he would not have even considered that option.

As if the behavior of the father of this story was not bad enough, I had the pleasure of receiving a colorful e-mail from the player’s mother, thankfully not laden with profanity, but with plenty of words in all capitals and runs of punctuation.  There was also a demand for a full refund of her son’s registration fee, and a threat of sicking the family attorneys on me if I did not immediately comply (this despite her son having already played in two tournaments, was issued a uniform with shooter shirt, participated in clinics put on by professional lacrosse players at the club’s expense, and made use of club equipment for 8 weeks of a 9 week summer travel season).

The millennial generation of today possess some great qualities, compassion and the embracing of social causes, choosing purpose and fulfillment in their chosen careers over monetary reward, to name a couple.  As we are all keenly aware, however, there is a disproportionate percentage of millennials in comparison to previous generations, that live with an undeserved sense of entitlement, that live the victim mentality, that when they do not succeed, it is not due to their own failures but due to their mistreatment at the hands of others….that in short, lack accountability.

Adults can complain all we want about this segment of millennials, but we must stop blaming the kids and instead hold the parents accountable for the way many out.  When parents demand participation trophies because it hurts the feelings of their child that did not earned one through accomplishment, what does that teach their child?  What does it teach the children that are exceptional in their accomplishment but are given the same award as everyone else?  When a game is on the line on a competitive team, what message do I send the 20 other players I am responsible for if I were to not have my best personnel on the field that put us int he best position to win; because back up player’s feelings may get hurt or a parent may get upset with me?

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

 

2017 Tewaarton Award Winners An All Maryland & (Once Again) All Offensive Affair

The 2017 Tewaarton Award for Division I Lacrosse most outstanding players are both Maryland Terps, ttacker Matt Rambo and Midfielder Zoe Stukenberg.  The storied lacrosse Men’s and Women’s lacrosse programs of Maryland have much to be proud of this season, sweeping not only both the Men’s and Women’s National Championship, but also sweeping the Tewaarton Award.

The Tewaarton Award goes to the most outstanding players in Men’s and Women’s college lacrosse, akin to the Heisman Trophy Award in college football that is awarded to the most outstanding player (there are more parallels to the Heisman that I will address below).  The Tewaarton Award is so named to honor the Native American origins of the game of lacrosse.  Tewaarton is the Mohawk word for lacrosse in their native tongue, and the Mohawk Nation is credited with being the progenitor of lacrosse.

There are two controversies associated with the Tewaarton Award.  Given that it is awarded after the Division I college lacrosse post season is complete, there is an observation among many experts that the award is all too often influenced by a player’s performance in the post season, which is not the intent of the award.  The award’s intent is to recognize a player’s outstanding achievement and importance to their team during the regular season.

Less controversial perhaps and falling in line with the reality of the Heisman Trophy Award in football, the Tewaarton Award, especially on the Men’s side, is very tilted historically toward offensive players.  In fact, since the award’s inception in 2000, all but two recipients on the Men’s side have been attackers, while the only two that were not attackers were offensive midfield studs Doug Shanahan and Max Seibald.  Although defense is equally important for success in lacrosse as it is in football, like in football, great defensive players in lacrosse get far less recognition than their offensive counterparts.

I understand that part of this is simply the nature of the game, that the team with the most points at the end of the game wins, and it takes a capable offense in most cases to get the ball in the other team’s goal. Naturally, that will garner more attention.  On the other hand, if you ask the vast majority of coaches if they had to make a choice between a high powered offense or a lock down defense, most would opt for the lock down defense.

Still, one cannot argue with this year’s choices, Matt Rambo and Zoe Stukenberg, as both were not only dominant, Matt Rambo clinched the career scoring record for one of the most storied college lacrosse programs in the history of the sport.

Congrats to this year’s Tewaarton winners and to the University of Maryland Terps Nation that loves them!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.