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Introducing the Rookie Chronicles

Friday, February 3, 2023

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking one of a few things…

“Who is Jon Donville and why should I care about this blog?”

If this is you, I hope to introduce myself over the coming weeks. I am a rookie in the National Lacrosse League with the Panther City Lacrosse Club. I am living in Fort Worth, Texas for the season and working in the office with the Marketing and Communications departments for the organization. I am finishing my Master’s in Journalism from the University of Maryland and my goal is to keep pursuing my interests as a writer and an athlete. An idea came up to document my rookie season in writing, and that idea has led me, and apparently you, here.

“Donville is a stupid rookie and I don’t care what he says.”

If this is you, your name might be Josh Medeiros. Or you might be another veteran on Panther City or across the league. Either way, you are correct. I most certainly am a stupid rookie and you should put very little stock into what I say.

“I haven’t read this yet, but I already love it, although I wish Jon would just call me instead.”

If this is you, you are my mother. Hi, Mom! And thanks for sending this article to Grandma. Hi, Grandma!

This week was an eventful one in Fort Worth. We were made aware on Monday that we would be working from home due to the inclement weather. My Canadian roommates (fellow PCLC players Cam MacLeod, Phil Caputo, Nathan Grenon, and Will Malcom) and I had a good laugh. The temperature was right around freezing, with no precipitation just yet. We’re not in Kansas Canada anymore, we thought.

However, the joke was on us as the week went on. An ice storm blanketed North Texas through the rest of the week and we soon found ourselves stuck in our apartments without many options. Restaurants and gyms were closed, as the ice made a skating rink of the roads. As it turns out, when roads get covered in ice and are neither plowed, nor salted, nor sanded, they just stay icy. As a rookie, I have learned many lessons this year and have more to go. Add that one to the list.

We did venture out to catch some hoops at TCU. What an atmosphere over there. As we headed to the parking lot, we missed a scuffle that occurred with the players on the floor after the game. Although, those who have watched us play this year know that I am not very helpful in a fight anyway. Either way, getting out in the community and learning what this city is all about was pretty cool.

Playing in the NLL is a dream come true. Ever since I was little, I wanted to play in this league. Since I can remember I have been playing and watching this game. This past Saturday in Vancouver, I had a bunch of family in the stands and seeing them in warmups never gets old.

The closest thing that I can compare to being a rookie in the NLL, is being a freshman in college (which admittedly was a long time ago for me).

Obviously, the hardest part of adjusting to any new league is the quality of opponents and the demands of travel, lifestyle etc. I think the real challenge for me is managing the game of ping-pong going through your head.

For me, it fluctuates between, “Hey, you’re doing pretty well,” and “Hey, you’re a stupid rookie and you suck at lacrosse.”

I think the lesson is that neither are true, or at least you can’t let yourself believe either fully. An old coaching adage that I learned in college is that when you watch a game back over, the film is never as good or as bad as you think. Sometimes, watching film is a relief because you realize you made some decent plays. Sometimes, it brings you back down to earth after a big night.

Balancing the emotional swings and keeping the ping-pong ball somewhere in the middle of the table is the hardest part about being a rookie. Sometimes it happens from game to game and sometimes it happens from shift to shift.

Recently, we have had some team success and I have had some personal success. It feels great to help the team and come home with two points, but a big part of me knows that with every big game, a tougher one is coming.

When I was a freshman, I remember trying to make a move in practice that almost worked. The senior defenseman who took the ball from me let me know to “Get that high school **** out of here,” as he went the other way. I have had several of those moments at this level too and will have plenty more.

But it ain’t all bad. The coolest part about being a rookie is traveling to new cities and playing against the best players in the world. I am excited to do both this weekend, as we travel to San Diego to play the Seals. San Diego has so many great players and guys who I have looked up to for a long time. To compete against them, in a great setting, will be an awesome experience.

Speaking of lessons I learned in college, one of the most significant was that the greatest sign of respect you can show someone as a competitor, is to play as hard as you can. As a team, and an individual, that is something we try to do every time out. Saturday will be no different.

That’s it for this week, I’ll catch you next Friday for another edition of the blog.

Donny

Panther City Lacrosse Club