MJ: Lynchburg Already Passed the Exam
As I was communicating with the Lynchburg SID and the Hornets coaching staff for the story on Jeff Schwartz that went up on Friday, at the start of one of the emails was a quick note from head coach Steve Koudelka. It started with an all-capped quote from my "Morning Jac: Diary of a Heartbreak" posted on March 20.
"IT WAS A HELPLESS SIX MINUTES THAT WILL HAUNT THE PROGRAM FOR AT LEAST TODAY, AND PERHAPS LONGER."
This was in reference to the span in which Roanoke rallied from an 11-5 deficit to beat Lynchburg, 14-11. Koudelka then continued with a brief paragraph.
"I actually just brought the last quote in your March 20th article up to our guys after we beat W&L the other night in the ODAC semifinals," he wrote. "I told them when I read this article, I wish you would really know these young men that make up our program. I knew it was going to take more than six minutes of bad lacrosse to break the student-athletes that make up Lynchburg College lacrosse. They have responded the way I thought. They have worked hard to push the Rock up the hill, and now we have a shot at the ODAC title."
Koudelka wasn't chiding me -- at least that's not the way I took it (especially in context with the rest of the email) -- but rather showing the pride he has in his program and players, and I smiled when I read it. He's also correct. I underestimated Lynchburg. I thought they were done when they were 4-5 on March 26, but the Hornets put their heads down and proceeded to win nine straight games. Now they are 13-5 and will face the same Roanoke team today at 2 p.m.
Will Lynchburg spring the upset and grab the berth to the NCAA tournament? It could happen, although the Maroons, playing at home and on an eight-game tear of their own, have to be considered favorites. Noke boasts Justin Tuma, the conference player of the year and a contender for national midfielder of the year, and a wide open attack that keeps Bill Pilat's team in contention until the final whistle blows.
On a different level, however, it doesn't matter if the Hornets win or not. After the debacle in the first Roanoke game, and the ensuing loss to W&L that sunk them below .500, Lynchburg could have gone belly up and mailed in the rest of the season. The fact that they didn't shows a large amount of character possessed by the players.
We -- and I place myself at the top of the list -- often get caught up in the wins, championships, accolades, etc., but it's important to remember the real purpose of college athletics. It is part of the training process for young men and women as they learn life-lessons that can't be taught in the classroom. When it comes to "Character 101," Lynchburg receives an 'A,' regardless of how they do on the final exam.
Best & Worst
Best part about today: Selection Sunday. Need I say more?
Worst part about today: Let's just say my wife isn't too ecstatic about me being attached to the computer and telephone for the entire duration of Mother's Day. You're the best, honey!