Of Vince Lombardi’s many great quotes, perhaps one of his most well-known sayings is, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” The quote leads to another universally-known quote: “Easier said than done.” It’s one thing to say you’re going to get up when you fall; it’s another thing to actually get up. Though Friendswood High School senior lacrosse player Jacob Sansom has been knocked down more than once, he has gotten up time and time again, learning valuable lessons along the way.
During his freshman football season, Sansom tore his ACL, leaving him with a long recovery ahead with no hope of making it back for his first high-school lacrosse season.
“It was really hard,” Sansom said. “I would spend a lot of nights of wondering why it happened, but I just stopped and realized I couldn’t change what happened, so I just had to run with it.”
Unable to contribute on the field, Sansom began contributing in another way.
“He was devasted he couldn’t play lacrosse because he was going to be a starter that year,” Brady Buffington, Sansom’s friend and fellow senior lacrosse player, said. “He had to learn to coach and help from the sideline.”
Along with the rest of the team, TJ Benson, FHS Boy’s Lacrosse head coach, commended Sansom’s drive to help in any way possible.
“Jake would have been the starting goalie as a freshman, so we had to develop a new goalie,” Benson said. “Jake was there every single day helping do whatever he could.”
Those actions led Sansom to win the team’s Most Inspirational Player Award. As time went on and his knee began to heal, it looked as though things were just going to keep getting better for Sansom. He was happy to help from the sidelines, but he desired to be back on the field.
To his dismay, Sansom re-tore his ACL the following year, causing him to miss yet another season.
“It crushed him,” Benson said. “But the same thing as the first time, he came back every single day wanting to learn. It was really nice to see.”
Devasted but not broken, Sansom continued to work through the circumstances he was given.
“My faith helped me a lot through that time, as well as having such a good team and a great program to lift me up when I kept falling down,” Sansom said. “Tearing my ACL twice shaped me as someone who really tries to do his best in any situation. I try to focus on controlling what I can control. You can’t harp on things otherwise it’ll end up hurting you and your team.”
No matter how difficult it would be, Sansom was determined to continue playing the sport he had loved since he was in the third-grade; he was not ready to let go of his dream of one day playing in college.
Through a lot of mental toughness and physical perseverance, Sansom was released to play again. Now an upperclassman with a completely new understanding for the game, Sansom came back better than ever.
“Now that he’s back, he’s a big help in the goal,” Benson said. “Lacrosse tends to have high-scoring games from time to time, so every time we have a goal scored on us, Jake brings in our entire defense and settles them down and communicates what he sees so everyone can be on the same page.”
The knowledge he obtained during his time on the sideline allows Sansom to help those around him, specifically, new players.
“He really helps out a lot of the younger guys and makes sure they understand everything,” Buffington said. “He’s really invested in the youth of our program and that’s helped them tremendously.”
“His ability to work with the younger kids who come up each year is great to watch,” Benson said. “A lot of people are still trying to see what lacrosse is all about and Jake is a good example of what we want Friendswood Lacrosse to be.”
Sansom said he invests in the underclassmen because he wants to see the team succeed, even after he graduates.
“They’re going to be the future of our program,” he said. “We’re graduating a lot of seniors this year and we don’t have too many juniors, so being able to develop the younger kids’ lacrosse IQ and skills would really benefit them and the program once I’m gone.”
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Sansom’s time with the team is limited; however, despite years of setbacks, Sansom’s lacrosse career is not over. After graduating high school, he will be going to play lacrosse for the Florida Institute of Technology where he will seek a degree in Computer Engineering with a Computer Science minor.
“I’m really excited,” Sansom said. “[Committing] was one of my proudest moments.”
As Sansom moves forward in his lacrosse career, Benson said he knows he will find success.
“I played lacrosse in college and I know it’s not easy. Every day there’s going to be a new challenge and it’s going to be tough, he just has to get through it,” Benson said. “Jake is the kind of kid who will fight through anything. If he keeps his great attitude, he’ll be alright.”
For now, Sansom is concentrating on finishing his senior season, giving advice to those are struggling as he once did: “Don’t look at challenges as setbacks, but rather as opportunities to grow.”