Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My World Cup Experience Down Under

Long Island and USA teammate Norm Engelke (Cornell) and Me in Perth, Australia, 1990

Not sure if that first experience at the Sydney Airport started the momentum, but I remember feeling so marginalized off the field during the Lacrosse World Cup in Australia. It really was hard time for me and despite being on such an elite team I felt so lonely and misunderstood. I felt like a museum piece with so many Aussies staring at me an experience I had on the streets of Herkimer when I was in junior college. Seeing an occasional aborigine on the streets of Sydney and Perth make eye contact and warmly smile and wave to me went a long ways in making me feel a bit more welcome. Their fraternal greeting as fellow blacks in a white world was to me a non-verbal articulation that they understood how I felt and they wanted me to know they were as glad to see me as I was to see them. It might be similar to the same way women feel when they see other women at a male dominated school or job orientation. The other reason for my very low ebb at the time was this—the tryouts for 1990 National Team that occurred the year before represented the pinnacle of my athletic career. It’s was like being at a summer lacrosse camp with the best players in the country. Wow, the thought still makes me pumped today. I learned a very important lesson; no one experiences continues highs and those who do often create them artificially with drugs, sex, and or gambling--all destructive addictions. Fortunately I had developed balance in my life and drew strength from scripture reading and prayer during this low time of depression in my life. That search for continuous high is the reason many so called successful athletes crash and burn at the pinnacle of their careers and after they retire. There are just too many examples for me to mention and it does happen in the largely non-revenue sport of lacrosse.

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