Newcomer Discourse Final

Newcomer Discourse Final

As one of the fastest growing college sport, women’s lacrosse is still not very well known.  Also, women’s lacrosse even has a higher growth rate than men’s. Lacrosse is the type of sport that is very distinct and can be very confusing for most.  This discourse has many different distinctions that make it so different from even men’s lacrosse.  For example, women’s lacrosse is a non contact sport, whereas men’s lacrosse is full body contact.  Women’s lacrosse as a sport is more about control and beauty. As any other team it helps novices build relationships because like a family athletes have to learn to love each other or else the team won’t be able to work together on the field when it really matters.  

Relationships are a huge part of learning how to be an expert lacrosse player because in order to know the way the more subtle aspects game works a novice needs to be shown how it works from a  sponsorship. When initially learning the sport of lacrosse, beginners can teach themselves the basics of the sport.  Once the novice has a basic understanding of the sport, more advanced players have to learn all the different rules and regulations that follow with it. This is where Deborah Brandt would state that the aspect of a sponsorship would be a key aspect to the sport.  We see this when she states, “The concept of sponsors helps to explain, then a range of human relationships and ideological pressures that turn up at the scenes of literacy learning – from benign sharing between adults and youths, euphemized coercions in schools and workplaces, to the most notorious impositions and deprivations by church or state.”(558) These sponsors come from all different walks of life, which could be a coach to even a more experienced player on the team.  Brandt adds, “Sponsors, as we ordinarily think of them, are powerful figures”.(558) These sponsors can be seen as being “more knowledgeable”.  For example, when I moved from the discourse of high school lacrosse to college lacrosse I really had to use the aspect of sponsorships to help me grow as a player.This was done by, working with the upperclassmen on the team as well as meeting with my coach to see other places that I could grow.  

In high school I picked up a lacrosse stick on a dare.  I never thought that I would fall in love with the sport and end up becoming team captain for three years of my high school career.  Then when my senior year rolled around and I was in the process of making the decision of where I wanted to go to college. It happened that the assistant coach of my lacrosse team had grown up in Portland Maine, and graduated from the University of Southern Maine. She pulled me aside after practice one day and told me that she had found out that I had gotten into UNE and told me that I should think about playing lacrosse there. At first I thought she was crazy then I decided that I’d meet with the coach at the school and see where it leads.  As Gee would say it’s the significance of me picking up a lacrosse stick that really changed the outcome of my life.  He writes, “But for many things, we need to use language to render them significant or to lessen their significance, to signal to others how we view their significance.”(32) What this means is that in the moment I looked at picking up a lacrosse stick as just something to try and maybe I would like it.  Now that I look back lacrosse has defined me and made me the person that I am today.

When looking at different aspects of college lacrosse I decided to really look at my experience. When you’re a high school kid you never really know what it takes to play college lacrosse as well as the process of being a walk-on.  Walk-ons are a whole different breed of college athlete. A walk-on is a kid who decides to play a college sport and has little to no contact with the coach before showing up at tryouts. These athletes are people who have the talent and heart to play the sport, but get a significantly less amount of recognition.  David Frank wrote an article on “The Unwritten Code of the College Walk-on” discussing what it’s like to be a walk-on.  One aspect of his article that really resonated with me was, “Most walk-ons will quit. This is just the unfortunate truth. Whether it is an inability to keep up the school work, tired of getting pounded at practice with no playing time or a desire to look for an opportunity to earn a scholarship; most walk-ons will not finish their four years of eligibility at the same school.” I’ve always been the person who never liked to quit anything and this has been true because you do get pounded at practice because you have to prove yourself as a player.  Now I was what people consider a somewhat modified recruited walk-on.  Being a walk-on is all about having this upward battle of really wanting to achieve this level of being strong enough to play. When going into it no one really knows what they are doing so they really use their primary discourse of knowing their sport to help them achieve what they want to do. They also have to learn the new discourse of how the college team works.  For example,  my high school team had a different way of working, whether it be practice plans or simply the warm up before a game.  It’s all about having your old discourse to help you get through the initial struggle of learning the new discourse of the college team.

For someone to be trying to join lacrosse as a discourse they have to spend tons of hours practicing.  Gee states that “Practices” is one of the seven building tasks when attempting to join a discourse. When joining the discourse of lacrosse, something that an athlete can do if the stick skills are coming slow to them is that once the novice gets the ball they can just run it up the field.  My freshman year in high school that was always my secret to success, because I didn’t have the stick skills to know that I could pass and catch the ball without causing a turnover.  This can be considered using one’s primary discourse to help them but they can’t stay with the primary discourse the whole time. Gee writes this, “If one has not mastered a particular secondary Discourse which nonetheless one must try to use, several things can happen, things which rather resemble what can happen when one has failed to fluently master a second language. One can fall back on one’s primary Discourse, adjusting in various ways to try to fit it to the needed functions; this response is very common, but almost always socially disastrous. Or one can use another. Perhaps related, Secondary Discourse. Or one can use a simplified, or stereotype version of the required secondary Discourse.” (9) A discourse is the specific way that a group speaks, acts, dresses, and interacts.  With this you have to actually take the time to learn the stick skills of lacrosse because without them you really are useless when it comes to anything on the field.  

Gee would look at all the work that I had to do as “practices”. Gee writes this as, “By a “practice” I mean a socially recognized and institutionally or culturally supported endeavor that usually involves sequencing or combining actions in certain specific ways.”(32) Gee is talking about working on different writing practices. This can also be applied to the aspect of normal sports practices. Six days a week, sometimes even seven depending on how one spends their day off.  Any sports team takes the time and energy in order to really grow and make advancements.  This is when even on off days you can find me at the forum lifting, running and playing wall ball.  This is all so that I can prove to my coach that I really am dedicated and not just another walk-on, who’s just going to walkout.  Frank writes, “Being a walk-on is about the process; enjoying being part of a team, practice and a unique club of college athletes.” With the team that I am apart of it really is a unit.  We are all very close and could be considered a family.  The process by which my coach picks people to play did all this.  She wants to make a unit that she knows will work with the rest of us and really takes into account if they will have a positive impact on the team.  

Another aspect of lacrosse that plays a big role with Gee’s learning techniques is Significance.  Anytime that you step out on that field you have just as big of an impact as the person next to you.  For the next 60 minutes every player on the field has to give it their all and everyone is there for one goal and that is to bring home a W. It’s all about working as a unit. Every time that were about to walk out onto the field our coach looks at us and asks, “Is there any other group of girls you would rather be walking out on this field on. No? Well go out there and show them that you are a team and a family.” The significance of this is that it’s one of the challenges of learning a new discourse because a novice can’t learn compassion and the ability to care about a group of people without taking the time to know them and learn how they work on and off the field. Communication is hands down the largest way that a team grows to care about each other.   

In order to have a certain type of chemistry that only some teams have is because they communicate on and off the field. Without this communication teams can have the problem of not knowing if the teammate next to them has their back when they step out on the field with them.  Communication is a huge aspect of women’s lacrosse, because you can’t simply layout the opposing team you have to talk to your teammate and let them know that you have their back if they need you.  Women’s lacrosse has a very distinct language that for most sounds like a bunch of jumbled yelling. When the reality is that every moment that someone opens their mouth it’s a small conversation that could affect the whole outcome of the game.  Some of the many terms that are said on the field range from “cutter” to “got me trail” even to something as simple as “yeah”.  They all have something in them that really changes what the rest of the team is doing at that moment. When entering the new discourse

This aspect of learning from more experienced players on the team also plays into the factor of teamwork. Lacrosse can be played as a very singular sport. One person can drive to cage and score for the whole game but that doesn’t win games.  You have to work as a unit because at some point you will be overworked and having the rest of the team to pick you up and push you to keep going.  Another aspect that really was different from high school to college is way that a team wins or loses. This aspect is probably different for most people because my lacrosse team in high school was such a new program that for the first three years it was all about growing the program.  We didn’t have the best win streak so we became very good at losing and looking at it as a way to learn.  We didn’t actually win a game till I was a senior. So the transition of moving to college and having to learn to have the fire to win games that really have an outcome as to whether you go to championships or not.  The aspect of losing with dignity and winning with confidence and respect is something that can’t be taught in a discourse. It comes from learning what every specific team does when they win or lose. Speaking of respect. Lacrosse like any other sports athletes have to have huge amounts of respect.  This comes for coaches, referee, opposing teams, and your own teammates. It plays into Gee’s focus of language which play’s a huge role in.  When entering this discourse you have to learn all the different tones that are used.  You wouldn’t talk to a teammate the way you talk to a ref or your coach.  It’s all about the learning curve that comes with a new discourse.

Personally I never would have thought that lacrosse would become such large part of my life.  As a freshman in high school I picked it because, I could.  The thought that playing college lacrosse and how much comes with the sport is almost overwhelming. Granted when joining any new discourse there are many different things that one learns over the time of being in it.  Some of the different aspects that can’t be taught are: teamwork, intensity, and having the passion for the game.  Simply being good at the game of lacrosse won’t ever be enough because one has to have the power and urge to want to be on that field for the better of the team.  You have to be able to put your whole heart out on the field for every game no matter what. If you don’t you won’t have the fire that wins games and brings teams together.  That’s something that a discourse can’t teach anyone.

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