It’s coming. It may not seem like it, but very soon school and rec teams will be finishing up and it will be “Tourney Time.” The hottest (or stormiest) six weeks of the year that our lives become totally focused on the success of our child’s club lacrosse team.
As being known for coaching lacrosse and as a frequent participant in this annual month and a half of masochistic behavior, I feel comfortable offering a few tips.
Sunscreen. Shade. Repeat.
When I think about the sun — as a pre-sunscreen era ginger who resembles a lobster — I make sunscreen and shade a priority. Nothing less than SPF 50. I’m not married to a particular brand, but personally, I prefer a spray for my limbs and a lotion for my face and neck. Remember to reapply after lunch.
Pop-up tents are great. As long as you don’t have to store, transport, carry, erect, or take them down. Find another enthusiastic rookie parent for this job. Be sure to offer tips on how to stake it down. Everyone loves advice. Take a look at the sun before you set up your chair. No point in sitting in the shade until noon and then roasting in the hotter afternoon sun after it rolls across the sky. Staking out that afternoon shade is like insider trading — all the smart people are doing it.
Bring a Chair (or Two)
A good chair is invaluable and, given the many hours you’ll spend on the sidelines, will make your tournament experience a tad less miserable. As soon as your kid is off the field, your butt won’t see that sucker until the next game starts, so grab a solid chair and enjoy sitting while you can. And do not make the mistake of only bringing one chair. You’ll need a back-up chair so you can be the hero if someone else has forgotten theirs or, worse, if your chair suddenly breaks. There is not much sadder (or funnier depending on your perspective) than seeing a fat guy wrestling his way out of a past its prime folding chair that collapsed on him. I speak from experience.
Snacks & Drinks
I am now absolutely certain that ancient man invented the wheel in order to put them on a cooler and facilitate the movement of iced beverages across uneven terrain. If your cooler doesn’t have wheels, get a wagon. Water is heavy.
Remember, water is heavy. Don’t bring too much to the field or you’ll have to bring it back at the end of the day. Keep another cooler with your backup ice and beverages in the car. You can always go back and restock. I recommend 16 ounces per person per hour. More for the players. You know who you are.
Do not complicate your life. This is not an occasion to impress everyone with your healthy eating habits and culinary expertise. A little bit of fruit is ok. Your kids probably will ignore it but it might keep the other parents from calling Child Protective Services about all the other garbage your kid is eating. But remember fruit has a lot of water — and water is heavy. However, chips and cookies are light. But no chocolate. That’s a mess you definitely don’t need. If granola bars instead of cookies allow you to sleep better at night, go for it.
Check the Schedule. Frequently.
Do yourself a favor and check the tournament schedule before you get to the field — and after you get to the field — and every 30 minutes until the tournament is over because the geniuses who run these things change the schedule all the time with little or no warning!
Don’t Forget Your Phone!
You are going to need a fully charged cell phone to check the schedule every 30 minutes. And the weather every 20 minutes. And anything else you can think to check because you are totally bored out of your mind. Going to need a charger for that baby, too.
You might also want to bring some other distractions for yourself and any family members who aren’t actually playing lacrosse that day. Avoid bringing speakers or boom boxes. Go with headphones. The people surrounding you probably won’t appreciate your 10-year-old’s music choices on volume 20. Books, newspapers, crossword puzzles, magazines, tablets, deck of cards, corn hole, frisbee, etc. are all good options.
An extra ball may keep kids who’ve been dragged to a sibling’s game occupied and off the field. Here is where I shamelessly plug our Swax Lax Training Balls. At just $9.99 they are significantly cheaper than just about anything else being sold there. Including the $25.00 commemorative Tournament T-Shirt, because there is just enough room in your kid’s t-shirt drawer for one more memory.
Money for Vendors
Speaking of the $25.00 commemorative Tournament T-shirt, don’t forget to bring plenty of cash for the vendors. Your kids will surely need plenty of moola for whatever ridiculous nonsense they absolutely must have from the Vendor Village. You know why you have a 3-hour gap of down time between games? It’s so you get bored enough to go through the Vendor Village.
What the heck, these tournament experiences will last a lifetime. As adults, your children will blame everything on you anyway. So why not six weeks of sweat, sunburn, and poor nutritional choices. They’ll get over it. It’s not like it’s any worse than flying coach to Asia. Enjoy your Tourney Season this summer!
About the Author
Kevin Meany is the head boys coach at Sum It Up Lacrosse. He was a goalie for Providence College, and when he’s not coaching for Sum It Up, he’s the assistant coach for the Morristown-Beard varsity and middle school lacrosse teams in Morristown, New Jersey, and a contributor to the Swax Lax team.