At Seneca High School in Southern New Jersey, I was fortunate enough to be a factor during the Peak time of Seneca Lacrosse. From 2011-2015, the school saw the Lacrosse team achieve no more than 8 losses in 4 seasons, multiple conference titles, and 4 consecutive State Division title games in which we devastatingly lost every single one.
Nonetheless, Kevin was one of the best players I’ve always had nothing but respect and love for but always brought out the best in me when we competed from back in our youth days all the way through high school. He was one of the best players in the state of New Jersey, with a sniper rifle of a shot in accuracy and in speed. As a lacrosse goalie, you know what you’re signing up for. Being a goalie is all relative, whether you’re a 12-year-old goalie or a 23-year-old goalie, those stingers to the thighs, chest, groin, shin, ankle and helmet all feel the same. Every time I stepped into that cage I not only anticipated to leave with bruises, I expected to leave with the glory of stopping Kevin’s shots.
I was 18 years old, standing there in the Spring heat of South Jersey. Practice was winding down. It was a Friday; State Division Playoff Game was the next day. We were grinding. Ready to absorb Kevin’s shots, I stood strong in the cage. After years of knowing Kevin and his tendencies as an Attackman, I did my homework. The fast break was sprinting down the field, the Defense was one man short. Kevin calls for the ball at the top left of the box and for some reason, I’ll never know why, he decided to dodge and make a break to go one on one with me instead of sniping his normal shot. It didn’t happen often, every time he stood at the top left of the box, I knew I had a slim chance of stopping it. My eyes grew to the size of the sun. I knew with all my heart that he was going to fake high and go low which he knew was my weak point. It happened in a matter of five seconds. He did just that. His stick, in what seemed like slow motion, jerked high and shot down low, I didn’t bite, and threw my stick to the ground. The ball missed my stick below and for some reason I fell to the ground. “Son of a bitch” I thought, “that ball went in.” I looked down at my feet and there sat the ball, wedged between my feet and the dirt of the crease. Kevin’s last ever high school shot in practice had been stopped by me, a memory neither of us will ever forget.
I write this today in effort for you to recall a teammate, an opponent or figure in your life that brought out the best of you every time you played. Don’t ever forget the pain you felt and the triumph you endured when going against them. “Be humble in victory and defeat” these opponents live to remind us ‘life aint all sunshine and rainbows.”
Justin Williams and Kevin Gray '15