Sometimes, it seems like youth sports these days is growing weirder by the minute.
You’ve all heard the stories. I won’t bore you. But as a coach, I’m on the front line and am often sadden by the evolution that some aspects of youth sports have undergone lately.
That’s why this story is so great. Youth sports, done right, teaches children many quality lessons. Hard work, being fair, how to lose gracefully, how to get along with others and so much more. It can also teach compassion.
In my email this morning was the normal “Monday Recap” sent out to all youth lacrosse coaches in Northern California. Usually it is a recap of weekend digressions by coaches and players and a call out to coaches to keep it calm, respectful and sportsman. But this morning, it also included a story and it involved an old friend and team mate, John Lagoy.
John (in the red above) coaches the Redding Boys Varsity lacrosse team has had a special needs player who has been practicing but not playing this season due to his limited skills and a concern for his safety because lacrosse can be a dangerous game.
His parents had been informed from the beginning that he could practice but that he could not be guaranteed actual game playing time. In spite of that, he shows for every practice and does his best.
With Yuba City ahead Saturday and destined to win with a little more than two minutes in the game, Coach Lagoy called the officiating crew over to inform them that he wanted to insert this special needs player in the game at attack.
Ryan Stewart, head coach of Yuba City, was informed and let his players know. Coach Lagoy told officials and Yuba coaches that he was hoping the player could get a shot on goal. Terry Miles, referee, let his crew, the table, and coaches know that regardless of the clock the game would not be called until the player scored.
Yuba players did a fantastic acting job in creating an opportunity for the player to get off two shots, the second resulting in the first goal of his career. Both teams erupted with joy! Redding circled their teammate and Yuba City gave him high fives after the goal and following the game. What a moment for everyone involved.
That is the essence of sport. Being fair. Creating joy through effort. A sense of accomplishment. The real winner here is not only the boy with special needs. It was every player who helped, the coaches and refs. They all learned that there are times in life to do the right thing.