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My Gratitude Journal: Why I'm Grateful I Picked Up a Stick
What would your life look like if you had never picked up a lacrosse stick?
It was freshman year of high school. My cousin Liz was playing at Rowan University. We were hanging out one day and we just started throwing the ball around.
I had played soccer, hockey, basketball and softball as a kid — and I loved every single minute of it — but when I picked up that stick for the first time, I knew I had found my sport. The only problem? I was years behind everyone else who had been playing since they were 6 years old. But I was ready to work for it.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on that moment and the combination of circumstances, opportunities, blood, sweat and tears that have brought me to where I am today. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day — the next practice, the next game — and sometimes we forget to pause and just be grateful for the opportunity to play the sport we love.
I could write a book on this, but here are just a few of the reasons I’m thankful for the day I first picked up a lacrosse stick...
Lacrosse has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve traveled across the world to play and teach lacrosse. I never would have dreamed of going to the countries I’ve been. I’ve already checked England, Poland, Australia and Canada off my list! Each country has a special place in my heart because of the people I shared it with and the experiences we had.
Throughout my whole career, I’ve had coaches who truly made me who I am as a player and coach. I fell in love with the game because of them, and the teammates I had beside me. Those people made me want to become a coach because of the impact they made on me. It's the most rewarding job.
As a player, I’ve played on the biggest stage with the best players in the world. When I started this sport at 14, I never would have thought that little girl would be wearing the USA jersey one day.
As a coach, I’ve learned and been influenced by some of the game’s most intelligent and creative people. They gave me a platform to grow and become a head coach for an amazing team in my Waglax family. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities Gary Gait, Katrina Dowd and Mandee O'Leary gave me as an assistant coach in their programs. I love my team and my role at Wagner — and I definitely wouldn’t be there without the encouragement and guidance from those guys.
I’ve also learned a lot both as a player and a coach. As a player, I never won a National Championship — we came 2 goals just shy of that. I also tore my ACL in my 13th game as a senior at Syracuse. Both those moments play over and over in the back of mind, but perhaps the greatest lesson lacrosse has taught me is that you can't paint the perfect picture, you can't control everything that happens, but you can control what you take away from those experiences. I know winning a championship would have meant everything to us at Syracuse, but I wouldn't change a thing about what my teammates and I went through that year because of the relationships we formed and the way each of us believed in each other.
I’d love to hear from all of you! What do you remember about the day you first picked up a lacrosse stick and how has it impacted your life since then? Let’s spread some gratitude with #ThankfulforLaxBecause. Share your thoughts on your Instagram story or feed and tag @mtumolo35 and @stwlax and I’ll repost!