It’s quite and I’m cold, the rain is picking up and the anticipation has created an electrifying feeling in the air. The stadium is packed, as is the club house. The multi-national crowed is excited, and they all wait patiently. It starts, quietly. I don’t recognize it, but I know what it is. The chilling shiver I get through my entire body is something I have only experienced twice before in my life. They have chosen a 4 year old girl to sing the anthem this evening, and what an amazing choice it is.
The anthem of the Czech Republic is not a show of power, force, or a beating of their own chest. To someone who doesn’t understand the words, it is soft, elegant, and polite, much the same traits every Czech I have met so far has. As this little girl grips the microphone that is too big for her hands, she starts with a voice so soft you almost can’t hear it over the rain. The crowed on one side of the stadium joins in for the second verse, the rest of the crowed for the third. Every hair on my body stands up. This experience is surreal, I feel a wave of emotion come over me. The eruption of applause when she finished was thunderous. The stakes are high, this game is the climax of the tournament. LCC Radotin, the host club, has not won the tournament in 12 years. Their opponents, the Boston Megamen, have won many times and are defending champions.
The rain has added a variable to the game no one expected, and small puddles form as the game starts. LCC Radotin is first to score, setting the place on fire. People pour out of the clubhouse with the excitement on the field. LCC scores again, and again. They can’t be stopped, it’s incredible. These young men from a developing lacrosse country are taking it to a seasoned group of experienced lacrosse players from one of the top countries in the game. Boston rallies back a bit after a timeout, but it’s clear to everyone they are out matched.
The Czech Republic is not known for their lacrosse. Although they have been playing it for over 20 years, they have very few experienced coaches and individuals to help develop their players to a high level. The group of men playing for the title today is exceptionally talented. I’ve watched a lot of lacrosse, and these players are the real deal. Swinging the ball from side to side, firm and crisp passes, quick and accurate shots, they have it all. With military like discipline they went through the entire tournament without a single penalty, which is unheard of in the game of box lacrosse. The second half was even more impressive then the first, with LCC scoring one of the most impressive goals. Their MVP, Petr Poupě, is a natural lacrosse all-star. He has single handedly beaten (scoring enough goals himself to win the game) a Canadian Box team in the tournament, and assisted on the single most impressive goal I’ve ever seen. This 25yr old is one of the most talented lacrosse players in the world, and no one knows about him. His finesse around the net, and dominating leadership on the floor had defeated Boston with time still on the clock. The celebration at the final buzzer was spectacular. Grown men as happy as children on Christmas morning. Spectators sobbing with joy, people hugging each other. This win wasn’t just for the team, it was for their town, and their nation.
The events of the evening unfolded like a fairy tale story. The 20th anniversary of the tournament was the largest attended tournament to date. To have been a part of that game is something that will stay with me forever. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to take part in the tournament, and in the final game.