The Adrenaline Challenge this year was the boy's swan song -- and probably mine, as well. It's always been a personal favorite, perhaps in part because DlaxGrandpa and DlaxGrandma have now made the trip to San Diego five times. They have a time share on Hotel Circle, and the boy and I have been able to hole up with my parents -- and it's been a special gift for them to see the boy play and grow as a player and as a man. Mom and Dad came for the first time in 2007, when the tournament was at Lancaster, at the National Soccer Center, and the fields were frozen in the morning and we watched a young Parker Brown feed lasers to cutting midfielders on the NorCal Stars -- you want it shoulder high on the right side, that's where you get it, at pace -- and I thought, "This is such a pretty game, when it's played right." Met Dave Campbell, coach of my alma mater, that tournament, before it ever occurred to me that lacrosse might have something to do with the boy going to college. Dave is one of the sport's stand up guys -- I really shouldn't have given him a hard time about losing to Colby last season.
This year had a bit of everything. As wonderful as the games were, the lacrosse was a backdrop to a stroll through the wonderful friendships I've had a chance to form trailing along in the boy's wake. I had a chance to thank Mark Morrell, Wittenberg's D coach, in person, for how great he was to the boy and me on our visit last January. Coach Morrell saw the lad a few Challenges ago, and found us through a roster, or the boy's web page. He and Coach Harris run a pretty fine program out west of Columbus, Ohio -- the Tigers beat the Denison Big Red for the first time last season -- a player and his family could do a lot worse than checking them out for a D3 option. And what a treat to meet a whole new crowd -- the Ducks and their parents, as the boy played with some old friends and some new friends -- even if he missed the beach. The game's ability to bring people together never fails to astound. And I got to look ahead to the coming four years of Haverford -- Franklin and Marshall games. Squirrels v. Dips. Gotta love those team names.
I can remember when there was just a team or two from NorCal -- and this year we had, what? six? With Northern California players on the Brady's teams as well. I had a chance to watch almost all of them, including a group representing the third season of the NorCal Braves, a team I helped start, to give agreat bunch of players the chance to keep playing together, and their parents a chance to hoist a few after the games. Almost all new players now, but it looks like the Braves are here to stay.
But if I can only press one memory into my failing cortex, it would be the Sunday morning Ducks game. Standing along the sideline watching a great bunch of kids, sharing years of anecdotes with new friends, mom and dad, friends from club days, from the Vail/Park City trip of 2006, BraveHeart, and the lax pallies, with whom I have shared a few adult beverages and cigars, watching Conan make a few more mad rushes up the field with a ground ball before the wild, but exciting long pole unguided missile. Our boys are headed off to colleges on both coasts and across the country. I feel so grateful for the incredible blessings of this game and its proponents, for the coaches who taught my boy to respect the game and his opponents, for the people who shared their knowledge with me, and for all of my fellow travellers along the path. I've loved every step of the way. You all are the greatest.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.