I am going to be honest. This year marks the first Under 15 tournament I have been involved with since 2003 when I coached the presidents team at Brighton Lacrosse Club. And we actually got a win over the Eastern Eagles... a South Australian team that doesn't exist anymore.
Prior to that, I coached the Western Reds (also non-existent, in 2001 on the Gold Coast and in 2002 at the World games in Perth.
And then before that, I played for the Western Reds in 1994-1996 in Adelaide, Melbourne (Altona Lacrosse Club) and a co-captain in Perth/Fremantle (East Fremantle Lacrosse Club).
I gotta say... I miss it!
Over the last couple of days, I have had the chance to speak to a lot of kids. And gee it brings back memories! I see kids hanging out with their own team, building friendships that will last forever... (I am lookin at you Dennis Hansford... billoted with you with our Melbourne hosts where you gave that fella the Hiemlich!!!) . I see kids mixing with other teams, building friendships that last forever (I am looking at you Luke and Chendelle Oliver, stayed with you guys with my team mate Brett Baker in 1996 and also Dave Bullen... billoted with you in U17s in 1998). And I see coaches making friendships that will last forever (I am looking at you Stefan Guerin and Paul Marshall! And congrats Paul on your State League GF win this year!!! And I am claiming you too Nigel Morton!!!). And further to that... believe it or not... the relationships you can build with the referees! (I can't believe that came out of MY mouth! But I look at you Laslo and Jason )
Above: A gift from the team I coached in 2002.
Above: The team I coached in 2001... it was after 9/11 and we had to bus it to the Gold Coast from Adelaide as Ansett went bust!!!
<I will insert a photo of one of my playing Western Reds teams if I ever find one!!>
It's funny though! I look at guys from some of these teams and I can picture their doppleganger from when I played!
***Easter Egg*** The first Surrey Park kid to come and say Gday to me when I am next at the tournament will get a free ball if they can tell me 1 reason why I might have chosen Surrey Park as the club I chose! I have 2 valid reason only!!!
Some of these kids WILL represent their state with current U15 opponents in Under 17s in the near future. And a bit further down the road they will be representing their country with kids from other states.
But it is not just all about the friendships. It is the quality of lacrosse they will come up against. The Presidents team gets a chance to experience the best of the best from their age group even though they may not have made their first teams. And the guys and girls in their first teams get to mix it with the best of the best with the chance to beat all comers for the trophy. What an experience to be able to play with great players from all clubs with one single goal.
This will be the week of a lifetime for some, and others, the beginning of a huge life of lacrosse. I know I have memories from every single one of the Under 15 tournaments I played in.
I wish you all the best for the rest of the tournament. Play hard, have fun, and always chase that ground ball!