Nothing to Lose

Perspective is everything.

Friday March 1, 2024


There was a moment when I had everything to lose. When I was junior in high school, I was scared I’d be cut from the lacrosse team. There was only one coach and he didn’t have space for everybody. Coach held try outs.

My dad was traveling the week of try outs. I gave him a call. “What if I don’t make the team?”

He waits till I finish. And in a way characteristic of my Dad, he re-emphasizes the question. “What if? You go out there, you play your hardest, you give it your all. The rest is out of your hands. If you get cut, you get cut.”

He didn’t give me false praise or reassurance. He gave me perspective on life. He gave me “nothing to lose.”

I never worked harder in my athletics than that week. I just didn’t want to get cut.

Well, I passed try outs. So did everyone else because it was just a coaching trick to motivate us…but that’s beside the point. But my dad’s advice was never lost on me.

I had low confidence the whole season. Yet my coach took a surprising interest in me. I got playing time as a junior. I was a part time defender.

Little did I know, nor could I ever have imagined as a defender who could barely pass or catch, that in my coach’s last game, I would be sitting on the wrong side of the field. I would be standing, as a defender, right in front of the opposing team’s goalie crease. I’m not quite sure how I got there as the whole season I always sprinted off the field whenever we transitioned from defense to offense.

My coach always yelled at me. “Stay on the field!! It’s a fast break!” But I was always terrified of dropping the ball. I was great at defense. Great at scooping the ball. Great at passing it to an offender. This was my safe place.

Yet here I was, in the final minutes of the game. We had three, they had five. And I’m on the crease. What was I doing here?

My eyes and voice called to my teammate who saw me. My teammate who knew full well I had no intention of actually catching the ball. My teammate who would love to pass it to me if he had any assurance I’d actually catch it. I could see his eyes lock with mine and it only takes 8 years playing a sport to recognize that split-second glance, “Are you going to actually catch this?” My eyes asserted in that moment with my stick extended and ready “I really don’t know. But I’m wide open and I’m on the crease. And you have the defender and not me. So make a call.”

To my surprise he actually passed it. It didn’t have to be a just perfunctory vanity motion to please the coach. Because I’ve called for the ball many times in that wrote script, “oh please pass it I swear it’s worth all our time okay I did my thing now you guys go score because I’m outta here!”

I catch. I turn. I dunk. 4-5.

What just happened?

I asked Teddy later why he actually passed it to me. “I figured, what the heck? Maybe he’ll catch it!!” We both laughed. He had nothing to lose.

I didn’t know it then, but it was the last goal anybody would score for my coach. It was the last game of the season. The last game of his 35 year career at our school. I was wholly undeserving.

And that’s when you stand most to gain.


Bryan lives somewhere at the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and futurism and writes about tech, books, Christianity, gratitude, and whatever’s on his mind. If you liked reading, perhaps you’ll also like subscribing: