This is a sad day for me. Today I officially resigned as the Missouri Men’s Lacrosse Team adviser.
This team—this game—has always been about more than winning and losing. It’s about building men, building character.
Lacrosse is a great game. I thought so the first time I saw it, played at the high school level in Webster, NY. It’s drifted in and out of my life since, and for the past nine years it has been pleasantly in my life. I have been amazed at the talents and dedication of these guys. Lacrosse attracts me because of the tremendous hand-eye coordination and the endurance needed to play it. A lacrosse player is an amazing athlete. Quick hands, quick feet, sharp eyes. They make amazing throws and catches on the run. They run plays and think about strategy. They’re disciplined.
Andy Mackley, left, and Blaine Skrainka helped out as alumni coaches when times were harder.
Since 2003 I’ve been watching the Missouri men’s club team and since 2005 I have been one of its faculty advisers, offering guidance to the Leadership Team and mainly being the team’s photographer. I have worked along with Joe Vale, who has been with the team even longer. We both resigned today.
The picture above is one of my favorites: coach Jared Diamond consoling goalie Patrick Sammons after a loss to our rival, Lindenwood, in the playoffs. Patrick (Patio to his friends) took it very hard and very personally. Jared had the hard task of helping Pat see the bigger picture and not shoulder all the responsibility.
One of my other favorites: this is Eric Chole, a great four-year defenseman and our current coach.
For nine years I’ve been watching these terrific athletes grow up to be terrific men. Lacrosse is their love, being a student athlete is their job. None of these guys are going on to professional lacrosse careers so each one has to take their studies seriously. And they do. We have engineers, bio technicians, chemists, business majors and even a few journalism majors on the team.
Joe and I have had a lot of great experiences with the players and their families. I have literally thousands of pictures that bring back nearly as many memories. It’s been a lot of fun.
But there’s been some angst, too. Working with 35 young men can be a roller coaster ride. We’ve worked through clashing personalities, firing a coach, rebuilding the alumni group, parents complaining about playing time and the never-ending problem of having enough money to get through the season.
Joe and I advise with a philosophy of the long-term health of the team so our opinions and decisions tend to be more conservative than those of 18-22 year old young men. We’re looking out for everything from financial health to the good character of the team.
After a long run with the club, we’ve reached an uncomfortable situation: we don’t agree with the path of the current group of team leaders. They have a right to do what they want — Missouri club sports exist for the students, not the advisers. These organizations are an opportunity not only to flex their muscles, but also their brains. They get to test their mettle as leaders, and Joe and I believe in that mission. But that doesn’t mean we have to go along if we think the ride is going to get bumpier. Life is too short.
Something we volunteer to do shouldn’t be stressful. We don’t want to cause frustration for the men any more than we want to be frustrated. Both Joe and I have full-time jobs, other interests and family obligations (yes, Frankie and Alvie are my family.) And maybe it’s time for us old fogies to step aside. We’ve had a long and enjoyable run with the team and maybe this is a natural parting of the ways.
I don’t know yet what I’ll do with this free time, but you’ll probably find me at all the team’s home games.
Good luck men.