I’m not sure whether to thank Ron Ritter or curse him.
The Lakeside boys lacrosse coach invited me to participate in the inaugural Augusta Lacrosse Club Inc. and East Coast Supreme By Flyte Lacrosse high school camp last week.
The event was a collective effort organized and run by Ritter, Lakeside girls coach Curt Gary, Greenbrier boys coach Jeff Becker and Steve Boe, who runs the YMCA program. The thought was to help me gain a better understanding and appreciation for the sport. I do understand it better, and a day later I was still trying to walk upright.
I don’t think I’ve been in this much pain since watching You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.
Among others, the instructors from Johns Hopkins University, players Phil Castronova and Jack Reilly, were very accommodating.
Castronova, a middie for the Blue Jays, let me use his stick, pads and gloves, while defenseman Reilly loaned me his helmet.
I was hoping to channel some of their skills through the equipment, but apparently it doesn’t work like that. I just hope I somehow haven’t jinxed their team, which made it to the Division I Final Four last year.
So, since I had Castronova’s stick, that put me on the offensive side of the ball. I attached myself to the attacker position, which has to stay in the offensive end of the field. For me, that term was a misnomer.
In one of the drills, I was flipped the ball and the defenseman I was going head-to-head with proceeded to beat me about the arms and torso in order to get the ball from me. My portion of the drills lasted about as long as some of my high school wrestling matches. They really did stick it to me.
There were a few of Ritter’s varsity players at the camp and even with my limited skills and sprint stamina they were still nice to me, asking a few times, “Are you OK? Are you going to pass out?”
You look at lacrosse and you may take for granted the skill it takes to run with the ball without dropping it. Picking the ball up with your stick is also an art form. The instructors make it more appealing by telling the boys, “Chicks dig the groundball.”
The thing about lacrosse, as Castronova pointed out to me before the torture started, are the opportunities it presents to those who can master the skill sets.
“We’re trying to give kids an opportunity to play lacrosse and go to universities and get a good education and play at a DI level without having to compete maybe for some of those limited spots in football, basketball or baseball,” he said.
I can see how starting at a fairly early age could make lacrosse addictive. It combines a number of sports, turning it into its own distinctive event. Once you get the basics down, then you can focus in on the game and strategies involved.
If there is no other lesson to be learned about playing lacrosse, there’s one I learned the hard way.
Wear a cup.