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CAL lacrosse Nation: a brief history;

I would like to take the time to reflect on our first few years as a club lacrosse team. The team was started by the request of a student to his mom, saying ‘mom, I want to play lacrosse but the school doesn’t have a team’. Well, in true CAL parent style, she started one. This was in 2006. Lacrosse was growing pretty strong back then. I was on the committee for the Bluegrass Lacrosse Officials Association as a trainer, assignor, and treasurer. Heather Pruit (the mom in this story) approached me during half time (of aCALl acrosse game that I was officiating) about possibly coaching the team the next year as their current coach (of one year) was to leave on a mission trip.

Rewind…It was a Christmas at church in 2005 that God began to do something wonderful in my life. My wife and I visited a very small church here in Louisville that year for Christmas and the sermon was on answering God’s call. We were asked to write a letter to God asking Him to make a change in our life and a list of areas or things we wanted to change, and then a second letter to ourselves (from God) with words of encouragement. This second letter was to be mailed from the church to us approximately 6 months later. My request was that God use me to impact this community somehow with skills he saw in me (I didn’t really care what it was only that He show me what it was and provide an opportunity to do it).

Second rewind…I was playing on a coed softball team late in college (89’ ish) and was asked to come and play lacrosse for the University of Kentucky club lacrosse team. Back then things were real lose with the rules in the league. Because the sport was a grass roots movement the National Collegiate Lacrosse League (the NCLL, or “nickel” as we called it) allowed students and non students to play. Terry Justice was the coach at UK, who back then was trying to grow lacrosse in the state one player at a time. I remember him spending about 20 minutes with me on the sidelines of my very first practice at the old rugby fields on campus teaching me to throw and catch. I was hooked. I went in the practice, scooped up a ground ball, took two maybe three strides and got my clocked cleaned by a very large defensemen, who stood over me as I looked at the sky trying to catch my breath and said…”welcome to lacrosse” and reached out his hand to pick me up. I think I only saw the field twice that year, but came to every practice and worked my butt off because I loved the game. I later (1998) got married, moved to Tucson Arizona and played competitive club lacrosse all over the west coast and in Vegas. I remember Terry used to say that ‘all you had to do was to put a lacrosse stick in a kids hands and the rest will take care of itself’. I wasn’t a kid but certainly understood what that feeling was to play this game.

Fast forward…to that spring/summer of 2006 when I was being approached to coach lacrosse. I remember getting the letter in the mail during that same time from myself/God (from that Christmas service) and reading it. The sense of direction was incredibly overwhelming. As I read, I recalled on my experiences and passion for the game of lacrosse and the change I asked God to make in my life and it was clear. God wanted me to coach this game. I took the job atCALand walked away from officiating shortly after.

I recall several rejected requests to the school to recognize us as a varsity program. We were called The Centurions then, playing on whatever field we could find (and in the mud most of the time). We had 36 players on the team and played both a Varsity and JV schedule. We were truly a start up program with no home.

Back then the vibe and vision was to build something big atCAL. Everyone saw the potential to compete with the big boys but it was going to take some time and we knew it. With the help of a few tenacious parents eager to get things off the ground, a very crafty Power Point presentation to the school board for one last effort to get the school to recognize us…we were told “no” once again. This was in the wake of a great year only narrowly losing to Henry Clay in the semi finals on a May soggy day in 2008 on a Tom Sawyer field, that was only playable that day by a 4 hour effort of myself and Alex Pruit by blowing water out of pot holes, spreading dirt and mulch in them and other low lying areas and lining the field (and oh yeah, we lined the fields for every game that year and previous years). This “no” came as a big blow to the enthusiasm we had at becoming a varsity program. Nevertheless, we ended the season still with hope that next year we could make another small dent.

A phone call came to me out of the blue that June from a parent who “knew” somebody in athletic department. So myself, David Landis, and his friend Steve Schubert (the AD) met for several lunches that summer at McAllister’s discussing what we needed from the school, and they needed from us, to make this thing work. After some clever logistics on Steve Schubert’s part we were now a varsity program recognized by the school. Oh what a feeling! The 2009 season was a great ride losing to Manual by only 1 goal (12-13) in a regular season game on May 5th and then again to Manual four days later in the semi finals on May 9th by only 1 goal (9-10).  There is a picture somewhere of Jason Landis (a senior) who couldn’t play that day due to an injury, walking off the field with his arm around two freshman (Zach Dannelly and Brad Lott) giving them words of encouragement. That one picture summed up that year, and previous years, and all our struggles to that point. We didn’t reach the State Championship game but we fought hard, we had each other and that made us a family. And we knew our day would come!

One of the things I asked from the school during those meeting at lunch was they allow us to start a 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade team on campus and they did. One of the things they requested of us was that we stick around to see this thing trough. Well, here we are in the fall of 2011 preparing for an uncertain 2012 season in the wake of injury and a few transfers. We have a very successful 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade team feeding this varsity squad. I am proud of all players, parents, and coaches who have stuck with us to make this journey an incredible ride. I continue to see that spark in a player’s eye when they pick up a lacrosse stick and I watch how the rest takes care of itself, as Coach Terry used to say.

God has done, and is still doing some amazing things in my life and with this team through this game. He has given us all tools through our experiences with hard work, persistence; defeat, failure, and victory that are sculpting our characteristics that I know will provide a purpose for His will. I think God sees that same spark in us when we pick up “the Cross” and he watches as the rest take care of itself.

I invite one and all to pick up both the lacrosse stick and the Cross and let’s…Keep Building and Keep Praying.

GoCAL!

Coach B

November 9, 2011

 

 

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