‘Make most of opportunities you have’

Each week we explore one question that affects Georgia high school sports with five coaches. 

At Issue: Has it been possible for you to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a life lesson for your athletes?

The Skinny: The Lambert Boys lacrosse team has been coached by Josh Sagel for the past 10 seasons. A graduate of Georgia Southern University, Sagel has led the Longhorns to seven state finals, winning four (2011, 2012, 2016 and 2018), along with eight region championships. Following their 8-7 defeat in the 2019 finals against Walton, the Longhorns looked as if they were headed for another shot at the state title this season with five victories and two one-goal losses. But they were suddenly stopped short following the temporary postponing of all GHSA spring sports.

“We have a lot of seniors,” said Sagel. “My heart goes out to those guys. Those guys wanted to have captains’ practices and such away from the coaches. We had to tell them, ‘We know you’re excited and we know you’re geared up,’ but we just had to tell them to play it safe. We’ll look at it week by week.”

As Lambert anxiously waits for some light to be shed on their halted season, Sagel is making sure that the team maintains the right frame of mind during this period of frustration.

Sagel: “The one thing I think we can really teach them is perseverance. Make the most of the opportunities you always have because you don’t know when they’re going to be taken from you. Currently in the NCAA, I think we have four players who are seniors that lost their years. At Robert Morris, Mercer and High Point, we got kids that are seniors, and their seasons are done and that’s terrible. With that five o’clock announcement on Monday, everybody’s afraid to do anything. And you don’t want to be the one that, if we do start back, it may cost your kids’ eligibility. I don’t want to be that guy.

“It’s a wait and see thing. What stinks is every year we go to King of Spring (lacrosse tournament). We’ve done this for seven years now. We have a team dinner and we bond and learn a lot about each other. I wish I could do something about that. I grew up in Georgia and played sports and I’ve never seen anything like this. Every now and then someone will get a terrible injury. This is like our entire team got a terrible injury. That’s what it’s like. We played last Thursday night. And we were trying to get another game in on Friday. We traveled down to Lilburn and played Greater Atlanta Christian. They were gracious enough to let us do sort of a mini-Senior Night. We’re thankful to those guys. GAC, as a whole, is a great school with good people. At least we got a little Senior Night in. That was at least a little bit of closure, but we don’t want it to end like that. That’s for sure.”

AT ISSUE: Teaching adversity

• Chan Brown, Parkview baseball coach
• Brad Harber, Crisp County football coach
• Clark Meyer, Westminster girls soccer coach
• Josh Sagel, Lambert lacrosse coach
• Burt Waller, Starr’s Mill golf coach

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