Imagine working at something for your entire youth, working to get noticed, only to be told you're not good enough, to be turned down by Division III schools, to go into your senior year of high school thinking that your athletic career could be over soon.
Now imagine getting a phone call from a coach that is fresh off a national championship offering you an opportunity to play at the Division I level. One caveat: there's no program currently.
That's how it went for most of the 14 seniors on the University of Richmond men's lacrosse team.
They all took a bit of a calculated risk and signed on, not knowing what was ahead.
What lay ahead of them were grueling days of conditioning, practices, film sessions, learning how to balance all of that with a rigorous academic schedule and trying to find a way to fit in social in an athletic setting that had never known lacrosse.
Four years later, that group leaves an impact on this campus that they will never fully understand. They've not only impacted the lacrosse program and the athletic department, but they've impacted the University and the entire Richmond lacrosse community more than they'll ever comprehend.
I've been fortunate enough to spend the past two seasons with this group and the program as a whole. In my first few weeks on the job, I was told over and over again about the uniqueness of the Richmond student-athlete. I can truly say there are no better examples of that than the 14 seniors in the men's lacrosse program.
I've seen them pour their hearts and souls into practice, film, leadership training, and networking with Richmond alums in New York City. Everything they've done, they've done with a purpose, class, and integrity.
Of course I wanted us to win the SoCon Championship and watch this group of guys become champions yet again, but unfortunately storybook ending didn't happen. While the loss was incredibly difficult, the toughest part was knowing that I wouldn't be around that group of seniors.
As I spoke with their coaches, both before, during, and after the season, it was easy to tell the emotion and love that those guys bring out in the people that surround the lacrosse program. A foundation has been laid and the ability to compete against some of the country's most storied programs is because of the culture that this group of young men has left behind.
Many who work in college athletics, do it so that they in some way can have a small impact on the student-athletes during their time on campus.
Every once in a while, you run into a group that impacts you more than you impact them. In less than two years, this group of seniors has done far more than impact me, they've made me want to be a better leader and a better man.
So thank you seniors, thank you for leaving a legacy behind that will never fully be able to be put into words.
Written by Scott Day, Assistant AD for Athletic PR