It's a strange thing, talking to these people from high school, good people, nice, always the same small town solid people, and talking about their son who is smack dab in the middle of a pretty stellar, high level, athletic experience. They, as surely as he might, would have never imagined that they'd be driving to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a game at The Big House, a game with intimate ties to their family. Sure, a lacrosse game, not a football game on a bright Autumn Saturday, but nevertheless, a giant event...a lacrosse game with the defending National Champion Loyola Greyhounds, and with half of his childhood staring down at him from the endless expanse of blue bleachers. Zac Herreweyers is a Loyola Greyhound but first he was a Wallaceburg Griffin...a Wallaceburg Griffin that's playing at The Big House this weekend.
I went to high school with Zac's parents, and all week long I've intermittently talked back and forth via Facebook and Twitter, and email, with two familiar people navigating entirely unfamiliar territory. No one imagines their child on this stage, not with any kind of certainty. Sure, we wish, we dream, but no one thinks in these concrete dream-come true terms. At best we hope. Most of us never get very specific about our dreams, at least as they relate to our children. On Saturday Chris and Heather, Zac's parents, will squint down at their son doing something they could have never imagined. The University of Michigan's Big House is a long way from the Wallaceburg Memorial Arena, despite the mere ninety minute drive. This Saturday Zac Herreweyers will return home, or close to it, and in a big way, and someone will need to pinch his parents.
I'm interviewing Zac for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, a national publication, perhaps the biggest lacrosse publication in the world, and that feels strange. I scoop up freelance writing work from time to time, if only to keep my hand in a pretty cool game that started fifteen years ago when I was working in Sports Information at The University of Michigan. I played Club lacrosse with John Paul, Michigan's seemingly omniscient Head Coach, and Lacrosse Magazine's Man of the Year in 2011. We were Athletic Department friends, John working in marketing, and I working in Athletic Public Relations. It was John who rekindled my love of lacrosse, asking me to come out and play at Oosterbaan, and being patient when the clumsy Canadian kid couldn't switch hands. Now I'm back on the same sideline as John, only this time the lacrosse is really good, we're really old, and I'm there to interview an opponent. On this Saturday I'll have good friends in the stands and on the field. I don't think I've ever shared Ann Arbor with that many people from my hometown. It's going to be brilliant to see so many people out supporting Zach. It's a small town with a big heart, maybe just the right size for a place as big as Michigan Stadium.
I'll be cheering for Zach, it'll just be from the Michigan side of the field.