Monday, March 24, 2008

Let the games begin

Well, it's more or less official now, and so I suppose it may as well be blog fodder: After coaching youth lacrosse for several seasons, yours truly has been named the assistant coach of Lincoln's new high school club lacrosse team.

This is a slightly odd position to be in. I'm basically a neighborhood pick-up player—at best. I grew up in Maryland, where virtually everyone has a stick and knows how to use it, and attended university with a proud Division I (and now Division III) history, but the closest I've been to "organized ball" is the year or so I spent scrimmaging with the Flying Rats at the University of Georgia—and we played not regulation lacrosse as most of the collegiate world knows it, but toli, the Choctaw double-stick version of America's oldest game.

[Pictured: "Little Brother of War", a Pendleton toli blanket designed by Choctaw artist Nancy Southerland-Holmes.]

The Flying Rats were started by a grad student in anthropology who grew up on the Choctaw rez near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where his mom taught school. He brought some kapucha (ball sticks) with him to UGA, enlisted a few more anthro students, and voilĂ —the first collegiate toli team was born. I came along quite a bit later, but while we did have some gifted athletes, the average Flying Rat was still more of a cultural enthusiast than a typical jock. To this day, I know more about Native lacrosse in its various permutations than I do about the high school or collegiate rulebook, let alone running drills, or set plays, or the relative merits of a standard 2-3-1 offense vs. an "invert" against a zone defense.

Needless to say, things will be interesting. We hold our first practice on April 1st, another on April 3rd, and then throw the kids to the wolves—I mean, begin competition with teams in the metro Omaha area—on the 5th. Wish us luck...

1 comment:

Donna said...

Congratulations Mark.

That's a very cool blanket you pictured too.