After a highschool career of working on academics and staying inside my little box, who would’ve thought that I would be walking onto a field, lacrosse stick in hand, ready and excited to die while attempting a sport? No one, absolutely no one, I thought to myself as I approached the field for the first time. I was happy to be there trying something new, yet somehow already exhausted from the simple walk from my car,
It was the first practice, and the sun was beating down with a hot 90-something degrees, and barely any wind to save me. They began by separating the newbies and taking us away to teach us the basics. Things from passing, scooping, catching, and cradling were all thrown at us in a thirty minute crash course. Before I had even caught my first ball, they threw us in the deep end with the other girls.
Without even getting my grippings on the stick, I was thrown on defense in a drill, and told to “just guard my girl.” How the heck do I do that? I thought to myself. I walked up to her with an utterly confused look on my face, and attempted to smile at her through my mouth guard. She luckily recognized my puzzled look and began showing me what to do before I could ask.
Apparently, I can’t get my stick in people’s faces or even hit them with it. I can only hit their sticks or else I’ll get a penalty, bummer. She told me to just stand in front of her, keep my stick matched to hers, and don’t let her get the ball. I nodded in acknowledgement, then quickly, there was a ball in the air, yelling coming from every direction, and me looking like a child waving around a stick from their backyard.
At the end of that practice, I laid on the ground for a solid ten minutes before I could breathe properly again; who knew that I would be this tired after not running for months? Well, my mom told me so, but why would I ever listen to her advice? When I told her and my dad I wanted to attempt a sport again, they honestly didn’t believe it would happen. Once they did realize I was serious though, my mom had all sorts of questions to throw at me.
“Where are you going to fit this in your schedule? You haven’t ran all Summer,” my mom exclaimed. “How do you expect to run up and down a field? Do you realize how fast those balls come at you?”
All valid questions that I never really listened to, but by the second practice, I realized she might have been right. After running drills and working with the girls for about 45 minutes, my eyes went dark and my head was pounding. Is this what dying feels like? Is my body giving up on me? I had to sit out for twenty minutes and honestly felt like a failure at that point. I guess I really didn’t have the ability to play a sport after all.
But, when all hope had vanished, my body was giving out, and I had mentally decided sports are officially not my thing, one of the coaches came out of the sun’s glare to in front of me and began a small pep talk. I explained I was fine, but also that I might be dying, so sitting there with my water might be best for me. He replied telling me I was ok, and that it’s good to take my time. He then went on to tell me more about how to get better, explaining that running and practicing are my best ways to success.
The coach told me to play wall ball, practice cradling (lacrosse lingo for twisting the stick in a way that feels as if you’re shaking a maraca, but sideways), and keep coming to practice. By doing this, my skill and stamina would build quicker than I could imagine. So, I listened. Even when the voice in my head was saying, you could easily be in bed instead of doing this, I listened. I began cradling while just sitting around my room, and just anytime I saw my stick, I’d practice for a few minutes.. And, I continued to go to practice, even on the days that a nap sounded way better.
Quickly, my first game rolled around, and that’s where I realized I might just love this sport.
I was late, as usual, and had to throw on my jersey. They began by putting me on the field as attack (the one who tries to score), then defense (the one who protects the goal), then back to attack. Before going on the field they had to tell me what I was supposed to do, and turns out, it’s not as hard as you think it is once they explain it. Every chance I got, I would turn my head to see my parents on the sidelines, watching me play with a confused expression on their face, maybe I should’ve explained this to them before they came.
By the second half the coach decided it was time for me to play middy( the one who runs the whole field). That sounds like a LOT of running, maybe I should just go home now. I went on the field standing outside the center circle, the ref blew his whistle, the ball went up and into a girl’s net, and I had no clue where to go from there. Then, in a whirlwind, the ball flew at me, I reached my stick out, but it went right past and into my side instead. Before I could react in pain, girls came at me from all directions, and somehow I scooped up the ball into the net and began running towards the goal. Izzy how in the world did you end up doing this on your Saturday morning? I got to the goal and shot the ball, excitement running through me, only to realize after I swung my stick that the ball had fallen out and another girl had already picked it up.
At this point I was past being disappointed; I had gotten the ball at some point in the game, and in all honesty, that’s all that mattered! I continued playing somewhat confidently, until at one point they made the smart decision to have me do the draw.
“I don’t know how to do this!” I yelled worriedly as I ran to the dead center of the field, all of my confidence fading.
“Then now’s the best time to learn!” The coach yelled back at me. Who does he think he is letting me go out here looking like an idiot?
The ref asked me two questions, to which I responded to both with, “I don’t know what that is.” The ref laughed at me, told me where to stand, then moved my stick back to back with the girl from the other teams, and placed a ball between the two. The girl explained to me that when they blow the whistle, I push up then run to get the ball, then the whistle blew, and out of nowhere, I had done it and the ball was in play. In the process I somehow managed to hit myself in the face with my own stick, but it was bound to happen.
By the end of the game, I felt better than I had in a long time. Getting out of the house and running around surprisingly did me a lot of good. Personally, I never saw myself playing a sport again after fifth grade, but now I’m going into my Junior year absolutely in love with a sport I didn’t know existed until last year. Being the newbie wasn’t even the hardest part. Every girl on the team keeps telling me how willing they are to help and that if I have any other friends who want to play, to bring them to practice and get them involved.
Lacrosse has become what I see as probably the most newbie friendly sport. Well, newbie friendly until you get hit in the butt with a ball. I’ve now survived long enough to play my second game. I continue to miss every pass thrown to me, but regardless of when I do, the girls continue to cheer me on.