"Dude, I can't wait 'til I can rip on waves like those guys out there!"

"Man, it's the journey…not the destination."

That was a short snippet of conversation between me and one of my new surfing buddies down here in Costa Rica this past week. It was a great reminder for me to keep perspective on what I was doing with my newfound sport. Being a beginner at something has been humbling for me. One day, I take a huge step and feel great! The next day, I get beaten down by waves and wonder what the hell I am doing out there.

Every day is a challenge for me just walking up to the ocean. I have some deep fear of drowning and I get a huge knot in my stomach every time that I have to turtle dive with my long board as I paddle out. When I make it past the break each time, I feel lucky to be alive. It is like I am facing one of my greatest fears by learning to play in the ocean.

A lot of times, it does not feel like playing, though.
There are a lot of missed waves and a lot of wipeouts. There are a few experiences of getting held under the waves longer than I would like. My shoulders and back burn and our sore every night. Water runs out of my sinuses every time I bend over when I get home.

There are also the days and the few and far between experiences that make all the struggle seem worth it.
The other day, I caught a big wave out in the green water and was able to ride up and down the wave all the way into the beach. I had the biggest smile on my face of my life when I was done.

This is the journey for me with surfing right now and I went through the same journey as a lacrosse player when I was young. Sometimes I think people believe that since my father was a hall of fame coach, that I was just born as a good lacrosse player. Ha! It was not that easy! I spent hours against the wall. I played with my brother and friends as much as possible. I went to my father's practices and games and studied the game and watched how the game was played at a high level. I ran and lifted weights so I could get bigger and stronger and faster. I devoted myself to the game and to being the best athlete that I could be.

I knew the harder that I worked at something, the more I would get out of it.
I knew the better that I got at lacrosse, the more fun it would be to play at a higher level. I had the experiences that made me feel what it was like to play at my highest level and pushed me to want to find that again and again. I also took my licks and my losses that motivated me to get better and to dust myself off and get back on my horse.

Then one day, I was standing in the middle of my childhood dreams. One day, I was on a team that won a national championship in college with my father as the coach. Another day, I was getting a gold medal with Team USA in the world championships. These were the things that I had always seen my heroes and idols doing growing up. As a young boy, I wondered if I would be able to do the same. But after I was done wondering, I went and threw against a wall...again.

Those glory days where I accomplished my dreams were as much as part of the journey as all the hard work that I put in when I was young. Those days came and went very quickly, though. So, enjoy each and every day that you put into lacrosse or anything else that you do for that matter. Put as much of yourself into your chosen pursuit as you can and enjoy every minute of it, no matter what happens at the end. That way, whether or not you get a full ride to a Division I school to play lacrosse or you just decide to hang it up after high school, you will have enjoyed the ride and made the most of each and every day on that journey. You never know what will happen in the end if you put your best into it.

Will I ever be a great surfer ripping down a barrel wave or shredding down a double overhead?
Not sure. I'll probably have to get a lot more comfortable in the ocean first! And it will take a lot of practice. I'm sure that I could do it though, if that's what I decided I really wanted to do. Either way though, I am going to enjoy the process and do my best.

Then I can enjoy a new journey, just as much as I did with my lacrosse journey.
I wish young athletes the same with their journeys in lacrosse and anything else that they take on in life! All of it is a journey and not a destination...and as cliché as that sounds, we all need that reminder once in a while.