2018 NLL season: Part 2

How do you want to be remembered?
— Paul Gorham, Head Football Coach, Sacred Heart University

When faced with adversity, I often ask myself 'How do I want to be remembered?', this question seems to make tough decisions a bit easier. We all have a vision of ourselves, who we are, what we want to be, and if we can make decisions that emulate that, why wouldn't we become that version of ourselves? So in honor of Paul Gorham and his frequent question: I want to be remembered by facing adversity head-on, conquering it and showing others how to be accountable. I used my release from the New England Black Wolves as a form of motivation to prove to the world, myself and the doubters that I will be back. During the time I was released I received several texts and calls with people saying: 'You should think about commentating', '3 years of pro lacrosse is a good run for a college football player', and 'It must've been cool to play in the NLL, what are you going to do now?'. It took weeks before there was any glimmer of hope. Through those weeks I had to keep my nose to the grindstone and ignore the noise. My phone rang on a Tuesday morning and on the other end was the GM for the Buffalo Bandits. The call was brief and went something like:

Buffalo: Hi Bill, This is Steve with the Buffalo Bandits.

Me: Hi Steve, what's going on?

Buffalo: We're interested in taking a look at you and bringing you onto our practice roster, would you be interested?

Me: Yes.

Buffalo: It's not a gaurentee and you'll have to prove your worth and earn a spot if you can. We practice in Six Nations, Ontario every Tuesday night, including tonight from 9pm-11pm. Its about a 4.5 hour drive from Syracuse. Are you willing to do this?

Me: I wouldn't want it any other way. I prefer to earn what I have.

Buffalo: I thought you might say that. Welcome to Buffalo, see you tonight.

I took this call in the gym. I was fired up, finished my workout and hopped in the car to try and get the physicals and testing done in Buffalo so I could continue on to practice that night. It was a successful trip, and I was able to get my medical testing and physical done by the Buffalo Bandits doctors, allowing me to participate in practice that night. It's always interesting meeting new players and walking into a new locker room especially of a team that may or may not have hated you before. I knew some of the guys on the team and was friends and played with Zac Reid. Zac is an absolute legend, so I was pumped to be playing side by side with him again. I kept attending practices, learning the systems and felt really good about eventually earning a spot in the line up, when one practice I stepped on a ball while doing a 'shoot on the run drill' and sprained my ankle. It was a bad sprain: grade 2. Here was more adversity to overcome, but what was more frustrating about the timing of the ankle sprain was the Buffalo Bandits were traveling to New England for the next game. Believe me, I wanted to play in that game. As I often say: you are 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. My priority was to heal the ankle and be ready for when I got the call up. Fast forward a couple more weeks and before one practice, Teddy Cordingly (Bandits Equipment Manager, the league's best) told me the boss man wanted to talk to me.

Coach: How was the drive?

Me: A quick 4.5 hours.

Coach: I wanted to let you know we're going to activate you this weekend vs. Calgary.

Me: Hell yeah!

Coach: Just play your style of Lacrosse, you don't have to do anything special.

Me: I can do that.

I traveled with the team and played in the game. I can tell you that I was more excited for this game than I can remember being for any other game of my professional lacrosse career. This was likely because I had so much to prove to the Buffalo Bandits, the New England Black Wolves, those who doubted me and those who believed in me. There was a lot on the line. It was my goal to prove that I belong in this league and play the rest of the season as a Buffalo Bandit. I maintained my spot on the active roster and played the remaining three games of the season. We played Calgary, Toronto and Rochester. By now you know the Saskatchewan Rush won their third NLL Championship, and we did not make playoffs.

As far as I'm concerned, the 2018 NLL season was my 4th year playing professionally and the year that I experienced the most adversity. If handled properly, adversity can teach you a lot about yourself, and you can be grateful for the growth adversity will provide.

Next time you're faced with adversity just ask yourself: "How do you want to be remembered?".

Photo by Nicola Rinaldo

William O'Brien