Every kid dreams of playing their sport as a pro, under the lights and in front of a roaring crowd. Earlier this month, I got that chance. Kind of.
On July 2, the Chesapeake Bayhawks hosted the New York Lizards at Naval Academy Stadium for a big Major League Lacrosse matchup. But the Bayhawks had other guests in the house, too. The team invited a club lacrosse teams to play as warm-up and halftime games.
My club team, Lionheart Lacrosse, was one of them. Our opponent was a team from Ashburn, VA.
The teams entered the stadium, dressed, and walked to the field like the pros. Smells of wet lacrosse gear, hot dogs, and funnel cake hit us as we walked through the tunnel to enter the field. There were TV cameras, flashing lights, and music was blasting in the stadium as we saw our team walking on the field on the giant screens on both sides of the stadium.
There were also nearly 12,000 fans in the house to see MLL pros like Paul Rabil, Rob Pannell, Matt Danowski, and Joe Walters. We were a little nervous, but the coach just said, “Have fun and play hard.” We could hear the roar of the crowd, but it was strangely quiet on the field, like we were in a bubble.
As the Lizards and Bayhawks finished their warmups, we hit the field for our game. We were standing on the same ground as our lacrosse heroes — not as fans, but as players.
Once the game started, it was just like any other game. On the field, there were no distractions, no fans, no nervous feelings. Just a good game of lacrosse.
The turf was hot and the ball moved faster than we expected. Everything in the stadium was faster — even my heartbeat.
After our game, we were fans again, watching a tough game. The Lizards defeated the Bayhawks, 15-13, for the 100th victory in the franchise’s history. More importantly, the Lizards earned a playoff spot.
When everything was finished, players from the Bayhawks, Lizards, Ashburn, Lionheart, along with the cheerleaders, all watched fireworks, talked about lacrosse, and celebrated our love of the game.
Photos: Tres Starkoski