by Victor Giol
It is Sunday afternoon. The 2022 high school lacrosse season has come to a close. But this is not like any other season. This is my son’s senior season. This is the end of a chapter which started four years ago when he started high school. So while washing his uniform is something usually routine and mundane, this time it’s different. I’m trying to put into words how washing Todd’s uniform for the last time has triggered all these priceless memories which not only go back to 9th grade, they also go all the way back when he was in elementary school. While I gathered my thoughts on this, I thought of what all of us parents have experienced when we come to to grips with washing our kid’s uniform, one last time.
To think prior to that point in our family life, lacrosse was just another sport I had only watched occasionally on ESPN over Memorial Day Weekends. Being in southeast Florida in the middle of a lacrosse growth boom made it easy for Todd to start playing and he immediately got hooked. Consequently, we became a lacrosse family. Thinking back to his first tournament when he was in 3rd grade and all the way to his final high school game, I have been to more practices and games than it’s worth counting. All of the rec games, the middle school games, the tryouts, the travel tournaments, the showcases, the camps, the car rides, the flights, the vacations, the relationships, the team mates, the coaches, the friendships, the connections, the rivalries, the defeats, the victories, the heartbreaks, the championships, and the life lessons which are taught so well by the “Creator’s game”, all flood my mind as I wash his uniform, one last time.
Out of all these things which lacrosse has brought into our lives, the most important is the relationships which will extend beyond the time of our son’s competition. I have met some great people along the way, whether it’s fellow parents and coaches from opposing teams, sideline professional photographers, refs, or my son’s many teammates and their families. There were many conversations and interactions which all are a part of the lacrosse culture which is heavily engrained in our lives. Not only did we have the excitement of rooting for our team and players, we also shared in the joys and triumphs of our dear friends, even while the teams are rivals. In the same way, we grieved and prayed over injuries and heartbreaking losses. The lacrosse community is like family, and in this territory comes the moments of pride and thankfulness for the accomplishments of everyone. The players who were once little kids who could barely put on their own gear, are growing into young men who start making important decisions in life such as which college to attend, what major to study, and if they choose to play at the next level. Those of us who are blessed to watch them play for a few more years will still have washed their uniform, one last time.
The wonderful benefit of sports competition (lacrosse included) is all the discipline, training and equipping of the players to have a purposeful and successful life. Sports teach the player that hard work and devotion to training pays off. Team sports teach you to know your role within the team. Team sports are all about setting goals and doing everything in order to reach those goals. All these are things which you want, as a parent, for your child to take with him far beyond the point which you have washed his uniform for the last time.
It is bittersweet to have it end. I am so grateful to have witnessed such a competitive and fun season with the boys. This “medicine game” and its positive impact goes beyond the field. Something I express to many players I’ve had a chance to interact with is how much fun it is to watch them compete. Looking forward to seeing what the next chapter will bring to us with this game. I will always cherish the moments I get to watch my boy play—especially when I have washed his uniform one last time.
Finally, because of what lacrosse has given to our family, my plea for the lacrosse community is (to quote Mr. Roggenburg): “Grow the game. Respect the game. Honor the game.”
To individually name all the people who are the inspiration for this memoir would be monotonous and take up far too much space in FLN’s host server. It will be my pleasure to personally thank you as our paths cross in the years ahead.
FLN’s Note: Victor, thanks so much to you and your family for all the support you have given FLN. Not only are we happy to publish this, but also to acknowledge your contributions to us with Game Recaps and photos. We’ll be following Todd in college for sure!