Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Road Back

TigerBlog stood on the balcony yesterday afternoon, just in time to see an army of young lacrosse players walk in front of Jadwin Gym.

It was Day 2 of boys' lacrosse camp, Session 2, and the afternoon session was about to start. The large gathering of kids, ages 10-18, were marching to Finney and Campbell Fields, presumably from lunch.

And speaking of lunch and the lacrosse camp, TigerBlog Jr. is working at the camp. He spent many summers, maybe five of them, as a camper at Princeton lacrosse camp. Now he's on the other side.

Ah, but some habits do die hard. TBJ, as he did more than once when he was a camper, lost his meal card.

Well, he didn't quite lose it. He left it in the car.

TBJ these days is a bit slowed by the small matter of a tear in his labrum and a small bone fracture in his shoulder. The injury, which he first suffered in one of his last high school lacrosse games and then repeated when he was swimming and had his entire shoulder pop out one one stroke, required surgery, which he had this past Wednesday.

He's healing remarkably well, or at least pain-free. And so he was able to work at the lacrosse camp, just as he did at Session 1 a few weeks ago. Well, maybe not quite like Session 1. This time, he can't really stay in the dorms, and he can't shoot a lacrosse ball or move his shoulder in any way, especially since it's tethered in place by a sling.

So he's commuting. Being driven, since he can't drive for the next three months or so. It's taken TigerBlog back to when TBJ was eight or nine and too young to stay in the dorms at camp, and so he had to commute.

TigerBlog reminded his son of that Sunday night when he picked him up. It was an experience that was both odd - since TBJ long ago outgrew not being able to stay in the dorms - and nice, because, you know, he's leaving for college soon, so moments like this are dwindling.

He even came up with a new term for his status - he's a "day counselor."

Of course, he's a day counselor who left his meal card in the car, so TB had to return it to him. That was somewhat funny.

As TB saw the lacrosse kids walk to the field, he could hear from behind him the unmistakable sound of basketballs bouncing from the main court in Jadwin Gym. There was another camp going on there, a day camp for young basketball players.

This was not a recruiting showcase or anything like that. This was little kids having fun playing basketball.

Camp season is in full swing around here. Some of it brings serious high school athletes here hoping to catch a coach's eye. Some of it brings the young laxers and hoopsters, just loving the chance to be around their sport at a place like Princeton.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world (South Korea to be exact), Hans Brase was playing for Germany at the World University Games. Brase, a 6-8 senior-to-be at Princeton, helped the Germans to the championship game, which was on ESPNU yesterday morning against the U.S.

TigerBlog learned from his colleague Andrew Borders' story on goprincetontigers.com that the U.S. team was comprised almost entirely of players from the University of Kansas. TB is intrigued as to why this is, but he decided to just accept it for what it is, without looking up why this is the case.

Anyway, Brase had six points, six rebounds and three assists for Germany, who lost in two overtimes to Kansas, er, the U.S. 84-77. For the tournament, Brase averaged 11 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Spencer Weisz, a rising junior and Brase's Princeton teammate, is playing for Israel at the European U-20 championships in Italy. That event hasn't reached the elimination round yet, but Israel did go 3-1 in the first round.

Weisz has started every game for the Israelis. As the tournament progresses, Andrew will keep updating how Weisz and his team are doing.

Oh, and back at TBJ and his injury?

It was a little more than two months ago that TB wrote about his son's final high school game, and he mentioned in that story that TBJ was lucky, that he'd played every game for four years and never gotten hurt.

Only he did get hurt. He just didn't realize it early on, since it went away in two days, only to come back six weeks later.

Now he has the sling for six weeks or so. He's heading to college - Sacred Heart University - in seven weeks. Fall practice for lacrosse starts shortly after that.

His goal for the summer was to do his summer strength and conditioning to be in the best shape he could and to see a ton of shots. He wanted to be 100% ready to go on Day 1 of fall practice.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Instead, his recovery time is probably six months, which should have him healthy in time for the start of spring practice.

It is, TB supposes, part of growing up. As a parent, the instinct is to shield your children from adversity, or, if shielding is impossible, then it's to intercede on their behalf. As a child, the instinct is to run to the shelter that a parent provides.

As an adult, TBJ has to face this one head on. A little adversity? It's a good thing.

There are people who have it way worse than he does, who deal with way worse every day. But that doesn't mean that he's not entitled to have lacrosse be really important to him, and that doesn't mean that he now has to deal with something that he's never had to deal with before.

TigerBlog thought about every Princeton athletes he's ever seen who is out with an injury and how teams work, with a "next-man-up" philosophy. Or woman up. That's how teams have to function.

But the athlete who is out injured? It's on him or her to make the way back.

TigerBlog was with his son when the doctor told him the results of the MRI and gave him the prognosis. As he was hearing the words, TBJ dropped his head into his hands, a bit overcome by the enormity of the news.

It was probably the most down TigerBlog has ever seen his son. His dream of college lacrosse was so close, just a few weeks away.

Now, a few days after the surgery, his attitude has done a 180. Now he's determined. Now he's ready for the road back.

He'll get there. Stronger than he was before.

His dream hasn't changed.

Only the start date.

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