By Nate Marsh
Communications Associate at Franciscan Mission Service
I was lucky enough to have a tremendous coach when I began playing lacrosse in 2006 at the age of 14. While I wasn’t the slightest bit athletic, or motivated in any way, he found a way to make me both, as I went on to start all four years on an NCAA team and graduate magna cum laude.
What was most amazing about his coaching, however, was his ability to make everything we did in practice correlate to challenges we would face later in life, or just planting the idea in our heads that how we act now reflects the kind of person we will become. If we take the lazy way out or don’t put the effort in now, then we won’t in college or a job.
It is because of this man that I have such an intense love of sports and the lessons they teach. And it is also because of him that once I joined FMS and moved to Washington, DC that I sought to find a team to help coach. I was lucky enough to find WINNERS.
While lacrosse is typically seen as a preppy, suburban sport, WINNERS is trying to rectify that. Many of the inner city schools in DC don’t have a lacrosse team, and WINNERS provides one. They also supply the equipment that could easily cost $1,000 each season on equipment and dues.
WINNERS also stresses many of the same life lessons that my coach instilled in me. Every week there is a particular trait each coach is preaches to his athletes, like eye contact, respect, teamwork, etc.
However, the lessons are not limited to the kids, but the coaches learn as well. I do anyway.
Ever since graduating high school in 2010, I have returned to my alma mater whenever I could to help my coach continue the program to the same standards and expectations he always has. But high school students are pretty easy to deal with, all things considered.
I have little to no experience with working with middle school children, and the first practice was certainly a wake up call. But working with kids this young is the best way to make lifelong impressions on them, and learning an interactive environment is a very impactful way of doing it. It has taught me more effective ways to explain fundamentals and drills making me a better and more concise speaker, and ultimately a more patient person, all while bettering myself and my community through serving.
What WINNERS has done for me more than anything, though, is remind me what the root of the sport is: fun. It has brought me back to my freshman year of high school when I was just learning to hold the stick the correct way, and it amazes me how far ahead of me these kids are than when I was their age, learning the game at least three years earlier than I had. Their potential is limitless, and I’m proud to contribute even an ounce to that.
Teaching these kids the importance of hard work, if I can be even a quarter as effective as my high school coach, will pay dividends for them the rest of their lives. Just as I used to be stuck in class all day, begging for the final bell to go out to practice, I watch the clock tick down at work eager to shape the future lacrosse players of tomorrow.