What’s better than two young dudes that love lacrosse showing up every day to practice, smiling and always wanting to learn new tricks? As a coach, not much that’s for sure! Over the past two months, I’ve gotten to watch the eager and positive dedication of two of our players, Arcelio and Jose, shine through. The fact that they’re fun to hang out with, talented, and good friends are all just added bonuses. Their can-do attitudes deserve some recognition so let me tell you a little bit more about these two dedicated dudes…
Arcelio is in 8th grade and actually lives right across the street from our field. This may partially explain why he’s always earlier to practice than I am - yes, I often find him there waiting for me - rain or shine. And he always wants more. One day, I strolled up to the field wearing my raincoat and said to him, “A mí no me gusta cuando está lloviendo” (“I don’t like when it rains”). Expecting him to agree with me, I was only half surprised when he simply shrugged his shoulders, scooped up the ball I’d put out and threw a fake in my direction eager to play. As I said, he always wants more… more shooting, more games, more stick tricks… more, more, more.
Arcelio’s hunger to learn is evident. Trying out new dodges, passes, and shots are high on his list of his favorite 10 am activities. And he is never afraid to make a mistake. If I throw him a behind-the-back pass, he tries to imitate it. Over and over again he will continue to make the pass until he’s got it down - well, at least most of the way :) Lacrosse has become a place for Arcelio to really express himself. You may not have guessed by my gushings of him this far, but Arcelio is extremely quiet. In our time getting to know one another, I’ve seen him take on a new confidence in practices - from his contagious chuckle after I mess up my Spanish to the “already??” he throws at me if I say our time is up for the day.
Arcelio‘s dedication to the sport, to his personal improvement and to his team culminated in a huge success for him last week! He earned his own stick! His commitment, hard work and positive attitude have resulted in a well-deserved reward. His next challenge: keep track of his stick, take care of it and keep coming to practice!
Jose, who is in 4th grade and comes to our afternoon practices, certainly knows a few things about stick responsibility, smiles and shooting. As one of the first boys to start coming to our programs nearly a year ago, Jose has put in maximum effort since the very beginning. He says that lacrosse has taught him “how to leave it all on the field” and to try his hardest. Not a practice goes by where he isn’t “cansado” (“tired”) by the end, shouting for a give-and-go multiple times over, and trying his best to have his team win the relay races. Though he admittedly enjoys offense and scoring goals more than running back down the field to play defense, he understands that you must execute both to be a good player. His answer when you ask the players, “What did you like about today’s practice?” is nearly always the same: “me gustaba ganar y perder” (“I liked winning and losing”). This understanding of the game and what it means to be a part of a team at such a young age is inspiring to his teammates as well as to me as a coach! It’s awesome! And, like Arcelio, because of his dedication, Jose has earned the privilege of having his own stick. He chose a sweet black and red one… clearly he has great taste, too.
But, the thing about Jose that really makes him such an enjoyable player is that he’s a giving teammate. Whether its giving a gentle pass to a teammate who is still developing her catching skills or giving his time to explain a drill to a confused friend, Jose brings his teammates along with him. And, he does it with a smile plastered on his nine-year-old face. From the moment he arrives at practice to the moment he leaves to go play with other friends, Jose is smiling, laughing and cheering.
So, way to go Arcelio and Jose! The dedication of these two amazing dudes is helping to enhance our programs here in Bocas and to make them as fun for the kids as possible. Knowing that the sport of lacrosse is impacting their behaviors and seeing how happy it makes them is the best reward a coach could ask for. Keep up the hard work!
— Maria, Panama PD