Mission Log: Devon Wills Reflects on Team USA’s Special Summer

How do you sum up the trip of a lifetime? Is it even possible?

Well, I guess I will try.

It’s one of life’s cruel jokes that you can wait so long for something, and then finally, once it has arrived, have it go too quickly. This was the feeling for me and the other 18 players selected to compete in the World Cup and the World Games, July 5 through July 31.

It feels like a year ago when we had our first day of training camp at Bisham Abbey, outside of London. Since then, I was lucky enough to be a part of the USA team that was named World Champions twice in 10 days. 

It is impossible to train for all that you feel – emotionally and physically –  throughout a World Cup. After four years of training and tryouts, you are faced with the challenge of competing on the largest stage against the best of the best for each country. Then when the trip is extended to include the World Games, the physical and emotional demands are doubled.

Usually, after the World Cup, the trip is complete. However, this was the first time that lacrosse was included in the World Games, a crucial stepping-stone toward becoming an Olympic sport. Further, it was the first time that lacrosse had ever been included in a multi-sport international competition.

So while our focus in England was solely about winning the World Cup, the focus for the World Games was so much more than a gold medal. It was about the future of the sport and where we could help propel it.

It was easy to become overwhelmed at times. Being on the U.S. team comes with a certain amount of pressure. You are filled with pride in representing your country, you are humbled by the teammates standing next to you, and then you are trying to piece together a win out on the field.

However, our team decided, together, that pressure is actually a privilege – and it should be embraced.

But then, when you bust out a dance in the locker room, with or without music, or pile all the mattresses into the kitchen for a movie night, you realize that no matter what you are being challenged with, your teammates will always bring out the best in you and each other.

To Ricky and the rest of the staff: Thank you for bringing this group together. Thank you for embracing who we were as individuals, and allowing us to find our way as a collective. You’ve created something very special. BUSA.

So that brings me to today.

I woke up this morning, at my home in California, wondering why my hallway was so quiet and why no one had texted me yet about the daily visit to the Heart and Soul Café. It took me a minute to realize, though I was happily home with a snoring bulldog at my feet, that I was alone and missed opening my door and seeing one of my teammates across the hall.

On our final night in Poland, our assistant coach Amy Bokker summed it up perfectly. She said her favorite thing about lacrosse is the relationships. She likes winning gold medals too, but the relationships are why she loves lacrosse.

On one of the last days of the trip, during a very unremarkable moment, I remember pausing for a moment, realizing that this journey with this group was about to come to an end. I wanted to tell everyone to stop running for a second and to sit still so that time would move slower. Unfortunately, time doesn’t work like that.

Talent-wise, this was the best team I have ever played with. I feel lucky to have my name next to my teammates’ on a roster. Personality-wise, these teammates became my family.

At the beginning of this whole journey, we were all very cognizant of the fact that our personalities gave us our foundation as a team. So, it was only natural that our objective was to be our best selves on and off the field throughout the trip. We achieved this objective. And while I love winning gold medals too, I love these people and I love these friendships. This team made me a better person.

I may not remember the final score of every game. I may not remember every good play or even every bad play for that matter.

Moving forward, though I won’t see my teammates every day, I will try to see pieces of them – whether it’s Becca’s positive perspective, Alice’s elbows, Michelle’s singing voice, Brookie’s diet, MJ’s overall awesomeness, Bullard’s goodness, Katie’s humbleness, Rie Rie’s food appreciation, Jen’s laugh, Alex’s dance moves, Kelly’s fashion tips, Ally’s laid backness, Gussie’s knowledge, Taylor’s loyalty, Zimmy’s intelligence, Kayla’s humor, Cookie’s toughness, or Alyssa’s stories, I will never forget the past 26 days and will never forget these 18 people.

To Ricky and the rest of the staff: Thank you for bringing this group together. Thank you for embracing who we were as individuals, and allowing us to find our way as a collective. You’ve created something very special. BUSA. 

– Devon Wills
(Twitter: @devon3wills, Instagram: @devon3wills)

Player Profile

DEVON WILLS

Nickname: Dev
Years with the U.S. Program: 14
U.S. Senior World Cup Teams: 2009 (Gold), 2013 (Gold), 2017 (Gold)
Position: Goalie
College: Dartmouth 2006
Honors: Three-time All-American (2004-06), First Team All-Ivy League (2004-06), Second Team All-Ivy League (2003), Ivy League Rookie of the Year (2003), three-time World Cup gold medalist, All-World Goalie, UWLX Champion, UWLX MVP.
Hometown: Denver, Colo.
Current Residence: Los Angeles
Current Career: USC Associate Head Coach

What does playing for Team USA mean to you?

Playing for the U.S. team is a huge part of my everyday life. It keeps me striving to compete. It is a huge honor and I am so grateful for all my experiences as a part of the team.

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