Personal Statement by Jackson Fitch 2022, midfielder, Maine
When I play lacrosse, I am at my happiest place. The joy the game gives me whether we are up or down is visceral. Both of my parents played lacrosse, and I had a stick in my hands when I was young. Lacrosse was not very popular where I grew up, so it was through my dad’s passion and dedication that I’ve become the lacrosse player I am today. My assets are my hardworking attitude, speed, and shot.
Sailing has been an experience that helped make me the player I am. It requires teamwork, adaptability and constant learning. Although it seemed to be an impossible dream, in 2016, my parents borrowed a boat, arranged to work “remotely”, pulled us out of school and 5 of us set out on a 46’ sloop. We sailed out of Rockland Maine in November headed offshore, sailing south. We ended up covering 5,000 nautical miles in 5 months getting as far as Trinidad off the coast of South America. It was one of the best experiences of my life so far.
Sailing offshore takes grit, perseverance and a positive attitude. Everything we did was based on the basics: food, water and shelter. Our days were dictated by boat repairs, weather systems, learning new languages and being immersed in new cultures. Yes, there was sun and swimming in warm water, endless night stars and lots of beautiful sailing, but there was also the immense effort in all that we did. Lots of failures and frustration as well as wins.
We each played an important role. Everything had purpose and impact. We all had skills we were good at, and things we needed to learn. We tried to leave as little to chance as possible because inevitably, so much went not according to plan anyway despite our best efforts. We know that change is constant and should be expected but were reminded of this at every possible moment along the way. Setting small goals to secure food, water, shelter was paramount even as at any moment they could have multiple outcomes - and often did! (the dinghy runs out of gas, the food boat did not come in, or mechanical instructions are in a different language). The ability to adapt and pivot with change and the unknown is a real skill for sailors who at the same time are known to be well prepared (triple back-ups), yet incredibly adaptable. All of these moments and experiences (epic wins and fails) resulted in an incredible adventure that was extremely challenging but also incredibly fun and rewarding. Helping each other when we were deadly seasick or when sudden squalls hit showed me the amazing ability people have when working together; bringing out the best in each other and leading with, "how can I help”. It was amazing to see how we all contributed in our own unique ways, despite being family members with preconceived roles. My five-year old sister (an extreme extrovert) made friends with the most interesting people, my brother became an expert coffee maker and dishwasher and I learned long distance navigation and how make sail-plans based on critical information. Our impact mattered in our small universe, and I see now that it does in everything we do, big or small.
Witnessing my parents put work and effort into making a dream come true lives with me as a player. Setting a goal, one that seemed impossible and achieving it changed all of our lives. The opportunity to see the world, meet new people, travel to foreign countries, become a better sailor and build confidence in myself and what I am capable of all started with an impossible dream. The impact was an amazing ripple effect on all of us. Nothing is given; situations can change on a dime, like the weather or extra mangos.
We all have unique skills and super-powers that we bring with us on the field, maybe it is a great shot, or a positive attitude, or dedicated effort. All of it matters. I carry this perspective and attitude with me on and off the field. You never know what lies ahead, but I do know how I can show up, what I can contribute and how to bring out the best in others. And what better place to do that but while playing lacrosse?