Pictured is one of two standout players from my Alma Mater, Montclair State University, Zach Schroeck (brother is Mickael Schroeck). In an impressive 2015 16-2 season, Michael was named first team All Skyland Conference, while Zach was named its Rookie of the Year. While I do not know these two fine players, seeing them in the uniform that I once donned in my own playing career; while approaching the close of my youth club’s current lacrosse season, it made me wonder if these guys and others living the dream of playing competitive lacrosse are really appreciating the opportunity they are in the midst of.
To be sure, none of us really know when our playing careers will end. For a few unfortunates, it may end early due to injury. For most, it will end after their senior high school lacrosse season. For a select few, it will end after college and for an even lesser select few, it will end at the end of a professional lacrosse career.
I still enjoy playing in my Brevard County Lacrosse Men’s League, but as fun as that is, it does not compare to playing for my high school in the NJ State Championship tournament, or in college, playing for the East Coast Athletic Conference Championship. In Men’s League, whether I play well or play poorly, my team wins or loses; beer and wings will be waiting after the game. I will go home to my family, and life will go on unaffected regardless of the outcome.
But in my high school and college playing days representing my school and community, during lacrosse season, nothing else really mattered. The anticipation of big games and big moments was as much thrilling as it was at times terrifying. The bond with my teammates, sharing the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat has no present day comparison. In college, the long road trips and staying in hotels with my teammates were some of the most memorable moments of my life. I feel truly blessed to have experienced all of what lacrosse gave me.
Reflecting on all of this as our 2016 lacrosse season winds down to a close, I leave you with this famous quote from great Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets Society: “Carpe diem,” translated from Latin, “Seize the day.” Savor every moment of your lacrosse playing experience as it is your last; as one day it will no longer be there. Constant training and preparation will be replaced with meetings, deadlines, and commitments; working and paying bills. Bonding with your teammates will be replaced with raising your family, possibly coaching your children and enjoying watching them live the dream that you once lived.
Yes, you may play again as I do, but it will not compare to what lacrosse once meant to you. So to all of you young men and women out there still living the lacrosse dream, carpe diem! Hope you all had a memorable and fun season.
Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.