There are times when Syracuse takes its toll on me. There are times when living with the parents, believe it or not, wears on me and I just need to get away, even if it’s for a day. (After being so independent for four years, coming home is a culture shock).
Next weekend I will be heading back to my old stomping ground – Gannon University – to partake in the third annual alumni lacrosse game. This time around, though, is different. Since graduating in 2009, my former teammates have moved back to their respective hometowns or have found jobs elsewhere. For many of them, prior engagements occupy this particular weekend, too.
For me, however, I have marked this date in my calendar for a while now. I’m looking forward to seeing friends and athletic department personnel that still call Erie, Pa., their home and the ones who will be making the drive.
As a former “has-been” collegiate lacrosse player, there is a jolt of excitement and trepidation when it comes to these alumni games. The first game came with ease. Only a few months removed from the game, my legs were still fresh, my eye-hand coordination was sharp and my stick skills were as good as they were going to be. Although many will argue that stick skills are an integral part of the game, as a defender, I beg to differ. I never cradled it seemed like when it came to pushing the ball up the field in a fast break transition set. I relied on my speed to get from point A to B, weaving in and out of the midfield and in the hands of our midfielders or attackers. Many times, teammates would hold their breath for fear of a looming turnover.
By the second year, I became somewhat lazy, staying back on defense and opting to pass it up instead of pressing it up the field. Within a year, my joints seemed to have failed me. Although I run on a consistent basis, it was nowhere near the lacrosse shape I prided myself on every season. The current team had an extra bounce in their step. Their fluid cuts and screens on the defense caused me to grunt and grimace.
This year I’m curious as to how it will pan out, not only for my sake, but for the team that will be under the direction of a new head coach. When I remember, I check the Gannon website and see how the team is doing. This will be the team’s third head coach in three years.
I will leave very early in the morning on Saturday and the routine will remain the same: visit the athletic department personnel that I’ve grown so close to over the years as a student-athlete. Many of the relationships formed started when I began my journey as a fledgling sports journalist for our campus newspaper, The Gannon Knight.
For me, the weekend can’t come soon enough. I’m looking forward to a few drinks, good company and reliving a part of my life that sometimes I desperately want to travel back to.