The pre-season started off great! We had a very good coaches clinic that was run by a former NLL player which was a great kick start to the season. Couple that with a few lacrosse coaching books and some Internet research and I was ready to go, after all coaching is coaching right?
With that in mind I diligently prepare my practice plan for the first practice and I was ready to go. I'm at the rink early, put up my team sign and wait for my team to show up. I'm not sure why but I was expecting a band of long haired, hockey playing adolescents who are only playing lacrosse because soccer is boring. Imagine my surprise when, one by one, the boys show up with good quality gear and well used lacrosse sticks. As it turns out I do have a bunch of hockey playing adolescents...competitive hockey playing adolescents who have also been playing lacrosse for a number of years. Even my first year players, both of them, are naturals due to their athletic prowess and natural abilities.
My first practice plan lasted for all of 5 minutes...my pre-scripted bunch of intro level drills just weren't going to cut it with these boys who were able to wield a lacrosse stick in much the same way as Darth Vader uses a light sabre - coaching is coaching though right? Not so much.
We get a couple of practices under our belts before we hit our first game and I have no idea what to expect. My practice drills had quickly moved from basic to intermediate and were now bordering on advanced level, but what about he team? How will they perform under game conditions, are they practice superstars or can they take their practice game to the game floor?
The answer came early on, we win the first game 4-2 but the opposition goalie was outstanding, we really had the better part of the play...and we are fast! Game 2 comes along with my son between the pipes, we are in for a real test as Quinn is a small lad who is no goalie. Our guys really step up and put up a ten spot to win the game 10-6. Game 3 sees another first time goalie in nets and our guys win 12-4, followed two days later by a 14-4 win.
This is where my dilemma begins....we are dominating teams, controlling the ball for long periods of play, scoring almost at will. I'm not one to tell kids to back-off or slow down but the league is talking about re-balancing the teams, I don't want his as the guys have really come together and no one wants to get split up from their buddies. But parents from the other teams aren't happy, no one likes losing by 10 and after our last hockey season I know exactly how those parents feel.
Luckily the league decides to split into two divisions which means that the Wings are staying together! After rattling off a quick email to the parents explaining the situation and my plan to ask guys to assume new roles in an attempt to keep the scores down against weaker teams I start thinking about what I'm going to say to the boys...I don't want them to think that they are ready for the pros but I need to let them know that running up the score isn't cool or very sportsman-like.
Needless to say, this isn't a position that I was expecting to find myself in. Luckily my parents bailed me out as most of them had discussions with their sons about sportsmanship and running up scores - crisis averted right? Wrong!
We take the floor and play the worse game of the season, squeezing out an 8-4 win against a team who hadn't won a game all season. It seems like our guys believed their own press clippings and to a certain extent I'll have to own that...I was so focused on not embarrassing our opponents that I forgot there was a game to play, a game to win. I have no doubt that the boys picked up my vibe so I need to do a better job with my messaging...but coaching is coaching - Right? Wrong!
And those are Scott's arbitrary thoughts.