Originally, I planned on writing this article about how the Summer Face Off held in Orlando this past weekend was a great success. I was going to tell you who won each division and thank all those involved for making the event possible. Maybe I would have dropped a few names of players that made great plays or coaches that showed great sportsmanship. In short, I was going to write basically the exact same thing I do after every tournament I attend. I’ll still tell you all that, albeit a bit more briefly (if that’s all you care about skip down to the bottom), but I decided it would be more worthwhile to share with you a great experience I had at the Summer Face Off at the end of the day on Sunday.
I’m a lacrosse referee. Between getting yelled at by adults that too often forget this game is about having fun, being a referee is a great way to stay involved in the game and I really do take it seriously. On Sunday, I was scheduled to officiate a couple games at the Summer Face Off.
Let me set the stage. While waiting for the U11 teams of FCA and Monsters to get ready to play in my last game of the day, all hell breaks loose. A torrential downpour starts and the wind picks up like a hurricane. Tents are blowing all over the place, mothers are scrambling after umbrellas, and both parents and players alike are sprinting to their cars for cover. I put on my rain jacket (like it made a difference) and ran over to one of the tournament workers, who is literally taking cover under a table.
“Have they called it yet? Do you have a walkie-talkie to listen in case they cancel it?” I yelled over the wind.
“Yeah I have one but they haven’t said anything yet.”
I return to the field to find both teams huddled under their tents with the coaches holding the frames down and my officiating partner (I couldn’t make this up) sitting in his folding chair with a black trash-bag over his entire body in an attempt to stay dry.
I walk over to the first bench and say “Coach, the tournament directors have not cancelled anything and I haven’t seen any lightning. Are you ready to play?”
Somewhat shocked, he replied “yeah sure. Let’s go.”
The 9 and 10 year-olds behind him went nuts with high-pitched cheers of joy and excitement to be able to play one last time before going home for the weekend.
The same thing happened at the other bench and within a minute the field was set to play.
FCA scored a quick goal and their entire bench erupted in elation again. Throughout the first half, there was some good up-and-down action as the fourth graders reveled in the deluge.
Now here is the point of this rant. These kids were having fun and playing lacrosse the way I would think the creator intended it to be played. No one was complaining about their playing time, no one was worried about their cleats getting dirty, no one was mumbling about a teammate not passing the ball, and no one was worried about the score. All these kids were just having a blast playing lacrosse. It was a thing of beauty, and I wish I could see it more often.
Unfortunately, right before the end of the half, a bull horn sounded signaling a lightning delay and the termination of our game. I shook both coaches hands and said “That’s the kind of fun you want to have playing lacrosse, right?”
Overall, the Summer Face Off really was a great event run at three great locations, each with immaculate fields. After that lightning delay, the skies cleared up and play was able to continue with champions crowned in each division as listed below. As always, a big thanks goes out to the tournament directors, coaches, officials, and parents that make an event like this possible so that these kids can enjoy the great game of lacrosse.
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