A Summer of Unexpected - by Kaela Smith

When sitting down in the Summer of 2019 there were so many elements of the Summer of 2020 that were uncertain. Who would be on our first team? How many teams would we have? Who would we get to coach with? Where will we practice? But I can tell you one thing for sure; a pandemic was not on that list. That is not something you prepare for as a coach, friend, or business owner.

When things started shutting down in March we all naively thought, “Well, we will be back to normal by summer, of course”. Surprise! We were wrong. As we started inching toward summer there seemed to be this impending inevitability that we wouldn’t be able to step on the field come summer. We would anxiously wait - with what seemed to be the whole state - at the same time everyday to see what orders would be given. Some days were met with heartache and some with a deep sigh of relief. When we hit May, we thought that it was time to start finalizing back-up plans. With those plans came lots of decisions like delaying the start of the season, figuring out who felt safe enough to participate, and putting together socially-distanced practice plans. How are we going to keep the girls safe? What happens if__...? We filled that in with a million different endings and created a plan for each one.

The start of the season brought so much happiness to the three of us, though still no peace. Day to day we didn’t know if we would be able to see the girls the next day or if we would be able to get to travel to any tournaments. Nevertheless, the uncertainty led to an overwhelming awareness and appreciation of what we were able to accomplish. It shifted from “I hope we get to” to “I’m so happy we have been able to”.

I am so happy we came together, built this program and were able to have a season.

I am so happy that we have a group of families that supported us, cheered for us and took a leap of faith with us.

I am so happy we had the privilege of coaching a team of girls who showed up every day and were ready to get better.

I said that we didn’t know what to expect in 2020 but the biggest surprise was the team. A club team can be a difficult culture to hop into. Most girls do not know one another; they are different ages, go to different schools, come from different backgrounds and this causes a little hesitation to open up and “buy-in” to the team. We were incredibly proud and sometimes emotional as we saw this group become friends and a part of the Tempest family. It was with true heartache that we had to physically separate them and enforce social distancing when we could see how much they enjoyed each other’s company. For Tempest, it is about so much more than the game. My motto always is “girl over game” and that seemed to bleed from girl to girl when we saw selfless play, picking each other up and day in and day out emptying their tanks. Some girls may choose to not step on another lacrosse field after graduation but they will always remember a team like this one.

I will say that one thing I never realized when I was a player was just how hard it is to be a coach. Sure, you have the day-to-day things but that isn’t the hard stuff. What is truly both the most difficult and most rewarding is how much you care for your players. You feel their pains, you celebrate their victories. This summer could have so easily been one of disappointment sadness due to the pandemic - but because of this group it was filled with fun, growth and intense gratitude.



PO BOX 13483


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