Brothers in arms

Attackmen Ian Feely and Aaron Clark taking the field against Boerne on April 13th in a 10-3 blowout win.

Sam Garibay

Attackmen Ian Feely and Aaron Clark taking the field against Boerne on April 13th in a 10-3 blowout win.

Wyatt Tomallo, Sports Editor

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The morning drizzle dampened the trees and driveway outside my house. The chill in the air was the type of cold that makes you think twice about going outside in the first place. I thought “Whatever,” grabbed my gear, and headed out to the lacrosse fields at 5:30 a.m.

Today’s practice was day one of a two-week bootcamp known as “two-a-days” for the high school lacrosse team. I arrived at Jumbo Evans Sports Park to see 32 other faces waiting to hear a command coming from first-year head coach Ben Conner.

He put this training exercise together for us to grow as a team. We players all thought he was crazy, but soon realized the genius behind what Conner was doing.

Everyday was more and more intense with conditioning, physicality and mental toughness. The constant sprints, push ups, military eight counts and even a mile hill run to the top of Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Antonio would challenge these players. The workouts were grueling and exhausting. His background in the Air Force Special Forces prompted his ability to train at such a high level.

Everyday, we showed up for these dreaded two hour workouts but soon learned to crave them. It sounds crazy, and I don’t know how or why, but the idea worked. Conner was able to tap into and turn soft, weak-minded teenagers into men who would do anything for one another.

Before Conner took the job, the lacrosse team played as individuals, as nothing more than teammates. We wondered why someone would want to spend so much extra time coaching a team who went 4-4 in district this past year and barely made a playoff berth the season before. Half of the varsity squad didn’t even play the year before or barely saw any play time because of questionable coaching and self serving players who, at times, appeared to run the team. We were nobodies, teenagers just playing for the heck of it.

Through those couple of weeks during two-a-days,  we learned to play as one and to put the team over an individual’s success.

Fifteen weeks later, our team stands as district champions for the first time in program and San Antonio history. We average one of the highest scored points per game in the state and play with the utmost physicality and poise on all aspects of the field.

The feeling of pride and excitement has entered the attitude of Smithson Valley Lacrosse, all thanks to one coach’s idea of success. Our goal as a team has moved past the idea of just winning but to truly transform the program. A sense of brotherhood has been established in the process, through all the workouts, practices, and team dinners we finally play as a team.

I remember before the season began, sitting in my coach’s living room with my parents,  and he asked me what my goals were for the season. At the time I said winning, but now it’s much more than just the aspect of winning.

My responsibility as a senior is to not only win, but more importantly, to help transform and change the mentality of the lacrosse program. My responsibility is now making sure the legacy left behind includes leadership, brotherhood and the idea of playing as “one.”

On behalf of the seniors and the team as a whole, I can say Conner not only proved to be a qualified coach but, more importantly, a father figure and mentor to his young team. There’s no other person our team would follow into battle other than Conner. This season has been special and will forever leave its mark on the lacrosse program.