Sometimes It Takes a While For it All to Make Sense

Those of you who have been clients and/or friends over the years, know that John and I are passionate about several things.  For us both, we care deeply about our business and our families.  For me personally, waterfowl hunting, lacrosse, and Furman University fill my time when I’m not working or spending time with the family.  Frances and I are both Furman graduates and both played intercollegiate sports during our time at Furman. For us both, Furman has had much to do with the people we are today.  My son, Gibbs, spent his youth growing up on the campus when we lived in Greenville, SC and his memories of attending football games are still fresh. It was always his dream school. You also probably know that my passion for lacrosse runs parallel with my son’s love of the game. Since Gibbs was 6 years old, he had a stick in his hand and showed some skills that might serve him well if he wanted to play at advanced levels.  As years unfolded, he continued to improve excelling in high school and club play drawing the attention of several college coaches.

In fact, in February, 2011, Gibbs committed to play for Siena College, a Division 1 lacrosse school, located in Albany, NY.  We really liked the size of the school, its educational opportunities, and the head coach, Brian Brecht. It was nice to have the recruiting process put to bed early in his junior year.  However, just when you think you have it all figured out, the domino effect of life pays a visit.

In July, Coach Brecht accepted the head coaching position at Rutgers University. He and his entire staff were leaving Siena. Thankfully, he really liked Gibbs and made an offer for him to play at Rutgers.  The visit went well. Frances and I really liked the town of New Brunswick, NJ as it reminded us a little of Chapel Hill where our daughter, Mary Parke is a senior.  What we didn’t count on was for Gibbs not to like the school. Rutgers has several campuses, 45,000 students and is a bit overwhelming for a kid with ADD who attended a small boarding school with 250 boys.

So he found himself without a place to play in August, 2011, a time when most juniors had already committed to the school they would be attending a year later.  Thankfully, the former assistant coach from Siena returned to his alma mater of University of Albany and asked Gibbs to play for him.  However because of the late date, all scholarship money had been promised and he wouldn’t be able to receive athletic aid until his sophomore year. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but one he took gracefully.

I know the backstory is a bit tedious, but the circuitous route we traveled and the route’s final destination seem meant to be. In Feb, 2012, Furman University announced they would begin Division 1 play in 2015 and a nationwide search was underway for a coach who would be the best possible fit.  Since the program wasn’t set to start play until Gibbs’ junior year, it was exciting to have lacrosse at Furman, but selfishly not too helpful for him.

In May, 2012, Furman made the surprise announcement that they had hired former Navy coach and current coach for the 2014 National team, Richie Meade. Coach Meade is one of most successful and respected coaches in all of lacrosse known as much for the impact he’s had on the men who played for him as his stellar record of wins/losses, and the 2004 Naval Academy National Championship appearance.  One of the first things Coach Meade did after the announcement was to move the starting date from 2015 to 2014 which would be Gibbs’ sophomore year.  Even with the announcement of Coach Meade leading the program and the subsequent earlier start date, Gibbs was undaunted remaining committed to attending Albany. Fate would need to intervene.

Gibbs is playing lacrosse this summer with the South Carolina club team he played with his freshman and sophomore years in order to stay sharp and in shape and is living in Greenville, SC.  During the first week of July, they played in a tournament in Gettysburg, PA.  It was a bittersweet for me because it was the last club tournament I would attend to watch Gibbs, and Gettysburg was always one of my favorite tournament spots because of all the history.

By happenstance, Coach Meade was also at the tournament to see a couple of kids he was recruiting play.  He also decided to stop by the field to watch a few minutes of the Greenville, SC team play since he knew the coach, Shane Lecroy and wanted to develop a relationship with the hometown team.  What he saw was Gibbs show one of his greatest attributes….his speed.  Meade had no program so he didn’t know who Gibbs was, but as I would later find out jotted down on a piece of paper, “call Shane about fastest frikin’ kid I’ve ever seen.”

After speaking with Gibbs’ club coach, Meade called Gibbs.  He didn’t want to undo what had already been done, but explained to Gibbs that opportunities like this happen for a reason. For Meade to have walked by when he did; for Furman to now have a program that he could play four years for; for it to be his dream school since childhood; for two of his high school best friends attending playing football; and for them able to offer him a scholarship making him the first player to commit to the program made it too much for him to turn down.  Now I understand why our recruiting process was so onerous and allows me the ability to appreciate where he has now landed. Thanks FATE! It all makes sense now.