Danni Malinski – Why I Play

I was asked to write about why I play lacrosse one week before I tore my ACL my senior season. ACL injuries have become a common thing in lacrosse, I’ve had a good amount of teammates and coaches suffer from the injury, but for some reason it never occured to me that it could happen to me.

I started playing lacrosse in fourth grade. I still remember pulling up to the field in my mom’s car and complaining to her about not knowing anyone or anything about lacrosse. Despite my whining, my mom ruthlessly shoved me out onto the goose-poop covered field where I knew no one and had no idea what I was doing. Within a year, lacrosse became my sport and my mom no longer had to force me to go to practices and games because I actually enjoyed them. In fifth grade, I joined one of the top lacrosse clubs in Colorado, Team 180. This past year as my 180 team finished our final tournament together before going our separate ways for college, my coach admitted that when I first joined Team 180 in fifth grade, I was so bad at lacrosse that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with me. That was how it was for several years. I was an unsure, timid and awkward lacrosse player. I got placed on the B team for my age group when I was in seventh grade and I still remember clearly how much reading that email with the two different rosters stung. I’m sure I cried and I know I was disappointed in myself, but as the years went on, I realized that there was a purpose for me being put on that team. Being on what was considered a lower level team is the number one reason why I am the lacrosse player that I am today. It gave me teammates that cared about me as a person instead of how I performed in a game. It gave me leadership opportunities and an “I’ve-got-nothing-to-lose” mentality, which eventually led to confidence as an attacker. It gave me a stronger work-ethic since things didn’t always come easy to me and it kept my pride in check by constantly reminding me that I can’t do it all on my own.

Being injured is something that I’ve decided I’m not very good at. I catch myself wanting to run to my car or catch up with a friend in the hallway several times a day before I remember the brace on my left knee. In these moments, I often feel a mixture of frustration, anger and a overwhelming longing to have my leg back to normal. But in those moments over the past couple weeks while I’ve been injured, I’ve felt God telling me one thing over and over again: “It’s going to be okay”. I know that this reassurance can only be from Him because I am constantly tempted to fall into a pit of self-pity and get angry about a situation I can’t control, but instead I have somehow been able to stop and try to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. I’ve grown up in Sunday school my whole life and have no doubt that I have heard this verse before, but for some reason, I heard it again several weeks before I tore my ACL and it has stuck with me since. I think it’s because it doesn’t just say “be thankful when life is good” or “be thankful even when you tear your ACL and you have to be a gimp the rest of your Senior year”, it says that being thankful is God’s will for our lives. I think that that’s so profound, and it’s because of this idea that I’ve somehow managed to find hope in the midst of a not-so-fun experience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t bad days– trust me, there are plenty of them– but despite the fact that I’ll be literally limping to the finish line of my senior year of high school, I love lacrosse because of the people it has put in my life as well as the lessons it has taught me– and I couldn’t be more thankful for both of those.