All posts by Andrew Clark

West Side

I used to live exactly five minutes away from O.J. Simpson’s house in California, after he “allegedly” committed the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a restaurant waiter, Ron Goldman. Truthfully, I wasn’t even alive at the time of the murders, but how many people get to say that?

I was actually born in Old Bridge, New Jersey, very close to where my parents grew up. We stayed around there for a very short time, and shipped out West when I was about two. I tell people I grew up in California, because that’s really all I remember of my childhood.

During our time in the Golden State, I was always very involved with sports. A lot of my friends and I would play on the same soccer teams, so we would always be together. I even was an avid dirt biker at the ripe age of 5, much to my mother’s dismay.

Things would drastically change when we moved back to New Jersey just a few years later. People ask me all the time why we ever moved back, but as a seven-year-old, my vetoes didn’t carry much weight.

After living with my grandparents for a few months, we landed in Allentown, New Jersey (yes there is an Allentown in New Jersey). It has been my home for the last 13 years, and I will defend its existence long after I’m out of there. I’ve never been to the one in Pennsylvania it is commonly confused with, but I’m certain that the two are polar opposites.

I was in love with the sports I played in California, but the culture differences between the two coasts would change my experiences forever.

It was only 2003 at the time, so lacrosse was incredibly small and almost exclusive to a small bubble of East Coast states. I was lucky enough to hear about for the first time very early on and was hooked. Lacrosse wouldn’t move out West for years to come, so I’m not sure if I would’ve been exposed to the sport until very late if we didn’t make the move.

People heavily involved with lacrosse hear the same phrase repeatedly; grow the game. Some see it as a subtle thing they can do, and others see it as a mission. The truth is, lacrosse still isn’t very popular out West, but huge strides have been made in recent years.

Everyone close to the sport of lacrosse would love to see it become more mainstream. As someone who still plays, I see it as a mission to pay respect back to the sport and see it succeed on an even larger scale. Even more so, being someone who lived out West where I didn’t know about the sport, I see myself it the position of people who are uneducated about lacrosse.

I wonder what my childhood would have been like If I was able to shoot a lacrosse ball just minutes from O.J. Simpson’s house. In the future, as weird and specific as it may sound, I don’t want other kids to have to wonder that.

To Shake Violently

I have an incredibly vivid memory of one particular Saturday morning Pop Warner youth football practice. I couldn’t have been older than 10 at the time, but I still remember every detail of that practice. Our coach called us into a huddle and he began to talk about what the next drill would be. All of a sudden, we heard one of our assistant coaches yell, “Don’t look up.” Naturally, everyone looked up. As it turns out, a flock of geese was flying overhead, and proceeded to hail upon us their business. It went on for a shockingly long time until finally the attack ended. Everyone was covered and as disgusting as it was, the team couldn’t help but laugh. Being such a small, insignificant part of one random practice, I’m not sure why I remember it so well. It is one of my favorite memories from youth football that I still think about when I see a flock of geese fly by. While I enjoyed it so much when I was younger, I intend to do everything in my power to stop my kids from having that memory.

Of course, I wouldn’t want my children to get rained upon by geese, but that’s not the memory I’m taking about.

Football is a divisive sport in today’s age. Some of the greatest players to ever compete at the sport’s highest level have said that they would not allow their children to play football when they were old enough because of the dangers of concussions. Even some parents around my area have made their children wait until they were much older before they were allowed to play. Football is not the only sport with injuries, but concussions are by far more likely. Concussion in Latin literally means, “To shake violently.” The game has not necessarily gotten more violent, but our better understanding about the effects it can have on the body are changing our opinions.

Say what you will about Aaron Hernandez, but it was proven in his autopsy that he had a severe case of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is caused by multiple concussions, and is unfortunately common in former NFL players. Hernandez was only 27 when he took his own life. There are at least six other NFL players who had committed suicide, but the youngest was 38 at the time. What is even more shocking is the fact that Hernandez hadn’t played in an NFL game since he was 24. During his time with the New England Patriots, Hernandez played three seasons, resulting in only 38 games. During his time with the Patriots, he had only one registered concussion. It is clear that Hernandez must have developed CTE while playing in college for the Florida Gators.

The question then arises, how long will it be until college players start to show symptoms of CTE? Then how long until high school players? Youth players? These are terrifying questions that we do not have the luxury of waiting to find the answers to. I myself am torn speaking out about the sport I once loved and loved to play. As much as I want my kids to be any type of athlete they want to be, I don’t think I would be able to let them play football knowing as much as I do.

I am beginning to see a shift in my generation, where several other athletes, teammates, and even just fans of the sport share the same opinion. It seems that everyone is beginning to better understand just how dangerous the sport can be. My generation may not be the ones to stop those Saturday morning practices entirely, but perhaps we will make strides to make our children safer.

10,000

Sports are a unique thing in our lives. They bring us together with people from all over, but at the same time, create rivalries that last a lifetime. They bring us our highest moments, while simultaneously creating some of our lowest. They are surrounded by glory and reward, which overshadow sacrifice and commitment. Sports seem to always balance themselves out in our lives, which could be why they are loved by so many.

The opportunity to practice something over and over again until it becomes second nature is truly magical. The fact that our bodies can learn something through repetition and incremental improvement make sports worth the payment of time spent practicing. Once muscle memory is reached and movements become automatic in respective sports, the time spent practicing is put into perspective.

They say it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, and I wanted to take on the challenge over the summer. This was before realizing that time may need to be spaced out further. Being that I play lacrosse, I simply wanted to spend 10,000 hours playing wall ball. It is a drill that lacrosse players universally know, and is as simple as throwing a ball against a wall and catching it. I figured if I played wall ball everyday, I would at least be able to carve a decent chunk out of 10,000, even if I already have a good amount of time logged.

While my goal was not anywhere near reached over the summer, I began to see the effects of my time dedicated to the craft. Throws became easier to make, my left hand became stronger and more confident, and I would throw for longer durations every day. This time then translated to the field where my skills started to show in actual play. The muscle memory and the confidence of knowing I could make a backhanded throw excelled my play over the summer, which I hope can transfer to my college career.

I have not given up my goal of 10,000 hours. I plan to get there, and to count every minute while doing it. The quest is warranted, as there is proof that dedication to the wall and your stick can yield unbelievable results. Professional lacrosse players can play wall ball with two balls simultaneously, throw fake passes that would make anyone bite, and catch balls behind their backs without even looking. Every time I step into the racquetball room to play wall ball and begin my routine, I enter with a new goal to hit. Maybe I’ll emphasize around-the-worlds or one handed behind-the-back throws, and eventually work up to playing with two balls at a time.

The sacrifice and dedication needed to master a sport can be seen through the direct correlation of wall ball time played and confidence in your stick. It is such a rewarding activity that allows you to see progress every time you do it. It is such a simple concept, that it makes sense to have at least 10,000 hours logged. The racquetball room can bring high moments, and it can bring low. The sacrifice and commitment yields glory and reward. It is lacrosse at its most raw form and is one of the many reasons why sports are such a valuable commodity.

Spartans Decisively Beat Jays in High-Scoring Contest

YORK, P.A.  — The Elizabethtown College Blue Jays (4-3) traveled to play the York College Spartans (5-1) in Wednesday’s non-conference field hockey matchup, but left disappointed. Etown’s solid defense was no match for the high-tempo York offense, as the 8-2 score proved. This is York’s fifth straight win, and Elizabethtown’s final game before it starts conference play.

The Spartans wasted no time opening the scoring, with junior forward Paige Taylor netting the first goal of the game within three minutes of the opening whistle. The scoring continued, with another York goal scored by senior forward Beth Patrick midway through the first half. Seven minutes would pass before the Spartans notched another goal, this time by senior forward Annie Measley, to end the half, 3-0, over the Jays.

Etown desperately needed this halftime to make adjustments and get back into this game. The weather was a clear factor, as the heat heavily fatigued both sides of the ball.

Unfortunately for Etown, York’s offense was just as hot as the weather, with senior forward Autumn Mallory finding the back of the net in the opening minute of the second half. The tide began to shift for a moment, with a few quality Etown shots going just wide, leading to a penalty corner opportunity. The score was finally cut when senior midfielder Megan Eppley assisted fellow senior midfielder Emma Christman off the corner to make the score 4-1.

However, the offensive dominance would continue as York marched right back down the field and scored 33 seconds later thanks to sophomore forward Greta Plappert. York continued to put up goals, with two from junior forward Lindsay Nye, and one from sophomore forward Meghan Heary. With around five minutes left in regulation, sophomore forward Abby Spessard scored for the final time.

The Jays don’t have much time to be upset about this loss, as conference play opens up this Saturday against Drew at 1, and Eppley doesn’t want to let it affect the team’s mental game.

“Everyone has a bad game every now and then, but it just so happened that we all had our bad game . . . We met as a team afterward and talked about things we need to work on, and focused on lifting each other up and maintaining positivity. Going into our first conference game, we now know what we need to focus on, and have goals set both as individuals and as a team.”

As reigning Landmark Champions, the target on Etown’s back continues to grow with every game. While the pressure to repeat may take a toll on some teams, graduate midfielder Addie Stang has faith in this year’s squad.

“I think we have the confidence and know what it takes to do it again. This year teams will be striving to beat us more than ever. But we have and know what it takes, our conference is incredibly competitive but we are excited to do it again.”

Criminal Activities: Part 2

The beginning of the Broadway Bomb was a complete blur as adrenaline and fear took over. I knew that I was pushing as hard as I could, but I didn’t feel a thing. While there were at least 1,000 other people surrounding me, I didn’t see a single one of them besides my 4 friends. The 2012 Broadway Bomb, whether it was legal or not, was finally underway. Since attempting to go straight up 116th street didn’t end well for a group of riders, the rest of us had to improvise to get past the roadblock. We quickly went a few blocks over and finally turned up a street, which was one of the most chaotic legs of the race.

As soon as the pack turned the corner, there were countless crashes. Whether it was rider into rider, rider into car, or even rider into pedestrian, it was clear that no one was prepared for the much narrower street that we found ourselves on. I managed to sneak through untouched, barely dodging riders that had fallen to the ground. Unfortunately, once I was past the first bottleneck, I was not in the clear just yet.

Once we turned onto Broadway, it was clear that the cops had been prepared for our small detour. There was no roadblock this time, but police cars and orange crowd control nets lined the streets. Further down, I saw a blinking sign that flashed the words “SUBJECT TO ARREST” every few seconds, as if that would deter 1,000 longboarders. Even though we saw people literally grabbed by police just moments before, this was the moment I felt the most uneasy. The police were just letting us go, not even trying to block our path. It was an eerie sensation and I was fully prepared to be tackled to the ground at any second. Luckily, my friends and I made it through untouched and from there, we were finally free to enjoy one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

Once we made it past the final cop, we had about a 6-mile hike remaining. Longboarding isn’t exactly the moist efficient form of transportation, but the initial adrenaline we felt never wore off. We were weaving in and out of cars, trucks, and taxis, probably breaking every traffic law in the book. But none of it mattered because we felt invincible. We had such a large group that the traffic has no choice but to yield to us. Even in Times Square, the epicenter for tourists visiting New York, people couldn’t help but stop what they were doing and watch as a pack of hooligans flew through the massive crowds.

I didn’t want the day to end. My friends and I were having the time of our lives and we dreaded reaching the finish line as the miles got shorter and shorter. Finally, we came upon a massive crowd as the world-famous Charging Bull came into view. Our time of being reckless and breaking laws had finally come to an end. Part of me was relieved that we weren’t in any danger anymore and all of my friends made it out unharmed. However, I immediately missed the initial thrill of doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing. Being around that many people that were so passionate about a sport that they were willing to be arrested was a feeling I still haven’t forgotten, and have yet to feel again.