No need to set the table on this one.
I got to the West Boca parking lot the same time as the Stoneman bus pulled in. Watched the Girls get off the bus.
Game faces on.
Not the same look I would have gotten last week.
Coach Kelly Fenton got them together at the gate and marched them in and I got my first chance to talk to her.
A little tensed up, to be expected. First game of the season does that to everyone, even if the team had not gone through anything unusual.
Plenty of Stoneman parents and fans made the trip. Sat beside the benches instead of the main stands. Sure they had to be tense too.
Multiple types of t-shirts being worn. #MSD Strong, SD Lacrosse Strong, even one Never Again.
It’s already been two weeks . . . seems like yesterday in some ways still.
Of course there was going to be some sort of remembrance before the game.
The teams gathered in a large circle around the draw circle, held hands and had a brief moment of silence
And in front of the MSD bench area was a number of what I guess to be stick handles with writing on them.
For some reason I just assumed it was each Girl’s way of honoring someone or something.
I should have asked.
At first I wondered whether to do a normal recap of the game, with the goals, assists, etc.
But at 8-1, with Stoneman fully gaining control, it didn’t seem to matter very much.
The final score was 18-3 and that was pretty appropriate given how the game was played.
The story wasn’t about a win or a loss . . . unless you were a team member in the second half.
When the game went from ‘what should we expect?’ to ‘we’re having a good time!’.
You could see the weight being lifted from the kid’s shoulders . . . Coaches too . . . as the kids realized they still had what it takes.
There’s a scene from Field of Dreams where the kid gets his dream of a major league at bat, and when the young girl falls off the stands the young man comes to the rescue. When he crosses over the grass to the gravel he turns back into the now elderly doctor he becomes.
Last night felt like a modern playing out of that.
Memories are forever but it’s time to move forward too.
At halftime Coach Fenton didn’t really need to say much, the kids had played very well.
A few things to work on and a smile at their first half efforts.
There was an interesting thing going on in the stands with the parents too
Their intensity over the past two weeks seemed to go away last night
As the score got to a point where the victory was no longer in doubt the emotions turned into something more familiar.
Talking to each other
Lining up for pictures as a group as others took turns taking the group picture.
The pictures they will keep for generations to come . . . this was the day we started to put a smile back on our faces
You see how much of a family sport this is.
Austin Figas, still wearing his sling, watching little sister Lauren light it up
Looks like little ‘sis will lead the family in scoring this year
And he’ll be fine with it.
On the far side even the moon cooperated. Large, clear, colorful.
A beautiful night
By the way, I don’t mean to leave the West Boca girls out of this. I can’t imagine how it must of felt to play this game. West Boca Boys head coach Nathan Snitz and some of his kids were there to lend support. Nathan used to be Ryan Burton’s assistant at Stoneman.
The Girls played to win and played hard all game but as the second half played out the game almost slowed to a crawl.
Which is normal when the score gets out of hand.
As the crow flies these two schools are only about 4 miles apart and team members of both sides probably know each other well.
Certainly seemed like it after the game.
On the way back to the bus I spoke to Coach Fenton about the game and the feeling of getting it behind her.
The look on her face told me a lot.
Like she had been holding in her breath the whole day and was finally able to exhale.
She had been thrown into a situation that does not come with a playbook, unlike the game on the field
But after watching last night it looks like she got it right.
Not bad for early in your career
And hopefully now she can go full-time back to the game playbook.
As can all the kids and family members
The playbook of life.