MAN, ARE WE LUCKY OR WHAT!

I've needed some time to just relax with friends and family for the past week or so, but I am looking forward to writing on a more consistent manner on this website. Thanks for continuing to read and follow this site, and I promise a lot of cool things are on the way for 2012 on TIER!

As I my vacation in Costa Rica was ending, there was a huge part of me that did not want to leave.
I liked the simple life down there, I fell in love with surfing and it was nice not working all the time! When I got back home to Denver, it was freezing cold, there was snow on the ground and I started to remember all the work that needed to be done! I thought to myself, "what am I even doing back here?".

Then I remembered my community, which includes a lot of you that have followed these writings or liked TIER on Facebook. I get to work with a lot of you, both parents and players through our University of Denver programs or through Denver Elite. I also remembered all the players and parents that I am lucky to work with at DU as the volunteer assistant coach for this upcoming season, as well. So, I thought of everyone back here in this lacrosse community that we have all created together, and I felt a deep sense of gratitude for that.

One thing I noticed down in Nosara, Costa Rica, is that there was not much youth sports around.
Granted, it was a very small, underdeveloped town and they played some soccer through their school system and such. But, compared to what we have back here, it was nothing. There were some young people that spent their time surfing, which is obviously a great pursuit, but one that is very individualized without any mentorship. There were also other young children who spent their days trying to sell pottery or jewelry. And on the extreme side of things, there were a few young kids running around smoking weed or drinking, with no adult supervision anywhere to be found. At times, it was sad to see and I am happy that Fields of Growth is working on trying to create some new opportunities for the youth down there through lacrosse!

It made me realize how lucky we are to have all the youth sports opportunities that there are in our country.
It gives us the ability to create strong communities and gives our children a place to learn about themselves, push to be their best and learn from coaches or other mentors.

Sports was always a huge part of my life growing up.
I tried every sport that a boy could possibly play. I played lacrosse competitively from the time that I was five years old until I was 28 and was blessed with a seemingly infinite number of experiences and teachings through that sport. I played football from age 12 through high school and my memories from those days are some of my finest.  I decided that I wanted to play ice hockey in my freshman year of high school and it was probably the most fun that I ever had and the hardest I ever worked at any sport. I played basketball when I was young until I finally realized that I was not going to get to be over 6 feet tall and I had about a three inch vertical jump. I had to beg my father to let me play baseball for a year, but I quickly realized the game was too slow for me. I tried swimming, but I sink like a rock. During the same summer, I tried out for the diving team until I tried a double flip and smacked my face into the water, and that was enough of that. I really liked soccer until my British soccer coach told me that I couldn't play soccer in white cleats (What?! I made my mom drive me to seven different malls to find white soccer cleats back in 1988!). From my most successful experiences in athletics to my most comical, it's amazing for me to look back and realize how integral sports were to my development. I don't know what I would have done without all these opportunities as I grew up. I know that I learned something important from every single one of them. There was always someone who I looked up to that I could learn from through all these pursuits and there was always a lesson for me at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we all forget that just having these opportunities in youth athletics is such a blessing.
We live in a society where we are all affluent enough to have the time and money to pursue sports. We have beautiful fields to play on, coaches who want to teach the game, referees who want to help keep the games under control and parents who are willing to sacrifice huge chunks of their own lives to transport their kids to games and watch them play. Not to mention all the frills that we have now with amazing equipment, super-light cleats (in every color imaginable), awesome stadiums, huge tournaments, sports drinks and bars, camps, clinics…the list goes on and on.

The only burden of being involved in athletics, which I guess is true for all aspects of life, is that there is always complaining. The coaches do not know what they are doing! The refs suck! This tournament does not have enough games! My kid should be playing more! Granted, some of these complaints may be well founded and completely justified. But, my point is…man, are we lucky to have all the youth sports programs that we do for our kids or for ourselves, if we are still young!

So, I wanted to let you all know that I am grateful for youth lacrosse and what we have created with it.
I feel lucky to get to work with so many outstanding young athletes and great parents. Thank you all for that. It makes me happy to come back to work every day and be back home…even if I am freezing my butt off now and missing a lot of great waves! I am looking forward to spending my time in 2012 as a small part of this awesome community and using lacrosse as a way of teaching young men about being great on and off the field.