Shawn Cayley explains what it’s like to hit the lacrosse floor
as written by Shawn Cayley
BOWMANVILLE — For the better part of two weeks I’ve received a good amount of feedback on my run with the Clarington Green Gaels during their first training camp session.
Most of the chatter was generated thanks to an epic spill that saw me — decked out in goalie gear and on a lacrosse floor for the very first time in my life — pass the ball off and then tumble, roll and slide in front of all the coaches. Oh, and our videographer extraordinaire Mandi Hargrave just so happened to be in the same spot, and yes, the camera was rolling.
If you need a laugh, check it out on YouTube under ‘sports reporter takes a tumble’ if you haven’t already. And, well, even if you have, I’m sure you’ll want to check it out again.
But as much laughter and tears that were generated by my fancy footwork, or lack of, it took everything I had to get through the two-hour run, never mind the pain and ache that followed the rest of the week.
Now from covering the game, I’ve always had a certain level of respect for lacrosse players at any level. They take one heck of a beating, but keep plugging along and are some of the most skilled and athletically gifted people in sport.
Tossing the gear on changed my thought process.
Now I hold them in even higher regard. Simply put, lacrosse is one tough game to play.
For me the challenge started pretty much the minute I sat down in the dressing room on Pad B at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex. The gear was in front of me, but despite having a background as a hockey goalie, I didn’t have the first clue of what to do. Enter Matt Chamois, former Green Gaels goalie and current director of media and publicity for the team.
Chamois took me step-by-step through what I needed to do to gear up properly. Pants? Check. Shoes? Check. Lower and upper armour? Check. Mask? Check.
Nerves at that point? Well, let’s just say I tried my best to block them out.
And truth be told, once I stepped onto the floor, the more comfortable I felt. That was, of course, until we started running, then passing, then running and passing.
All that was going through my mind at the time was: how do they do this? And is this thing over yet?
Following my aforementioned spill, the shots came fast and furious. The saves, though, were few and few between.
My reaction was slow, positioning awful and, to be completely honest, I may have closed my eyes a couple of time.
Before taking to the floor, Chamois went through a couple of key elements for me in hopes of keeping me out of the hospital, the main one being a simple instruction that opening your non-stick hand up like a goalie glove in hockey will get you hurt.
Well, I only did that once and, sure enough, I took the shot right off the palm of my left hand. It left me with a stinger, but thankfully nothing more. Consider it lesson learned.
Meanwhile, as fun as it was, I doubt there was a single person out on the floor that night who was happier to see the clock hit 10 p.m. and end our session.
Well, maybe Jason Crosbie, head coach of the Green Gaels, might give me a run in that category. After all, my final save of the night came off the stick of the former National Lacrosse League player. I have my left arm to thank for that one, sticking it out at the last second to stymie his attempt. It was highlight-of-the-night worthy.
Though, in the interest of fairness, I suppose I should mention that I am still looking for the previous shot Crosbie fired past me with the precision of a pro.