You’ll find them at every Johns Creek home lacrosse game, and at many road games, they’re in the same place.
Take a look at the top row of the Colosseum, just in front of the Press Box.
There, you’ll find a group of dads who never sit but instead, pace back and forth all during the game.
They watch every play by their sons and teammates, agonize over opponents’ success, complain about bad calls from referees, occasionally offer some coaching advice but mostly cheer great moments for the Gladiators.
Jeff Monahan has watched 3 sons plays from the Top Row, first Jack who graduated in 2015, next Sean who is a senior and co-captain of this year’s team, and now Cole who is a freshman and member of this year’s 9th grade and Junior Varsity teams.
Monahan said, “We as Dads started watching the Johns Creek JV games together six years ago, when my oldest was a freshman. We gravitated to each other and had a lot of great times watching the boys.”
Dave Boothe has watched his son Roman play here for years, first as a member of the Junior Gladiators, next as a player on the Junior Varsity and 9th grade teams, and now as a member of the varsity team and one of this year’s captains.
For the past 3 seasons, Dave has been a Top Row Dad.
Boothe said, “It was a perfect match for me because during Roman’s sophomore year, I saw all these dads standing at the top of the stadium and pacing around. Since I can’t sit still at games either, it is a perfect place for me to stand, pace back and forth and watch the game.”
But the tradition doesn’t end after a player graduates.
At most home games, you will find a number of fathers of former players on the Top Row.
Joe Holihan, Joe Sheahan, Bob King and Jeff Wilks have been to a number of games in the years since their sons left the program.
They also served as coaches for the Junior Gladiators as their sons started their careers and board members while their sons played for the HS Gladiators.
Monahan said, “The JC lacrosse program plays a big part in shaping these kids into adults and I have seen all the young players grow as men during this time and it has been a pleasure to see them develop.
According to Wilks, watching from the top row is much more stressful that being on the sideline as a coach.
Wilks said, “Being on the top row, you have no control just the stress of the game. My son Tyler played just his freshman year at Johns Creek. He moved onto The McCallie School in Chattanooga, so not having my son on the field but feeling like all the kids are mine brings a lot of pride to me as a coach.”
Tom Meyer returned for the Mill Creek game with his youngest son for the first time since his son Trip graduated as one of the leading scorers on the 2016 team.
Even though Grant plays hockey instead of lacrosse, Meyer still feels a connection to the lacrosse program.
“Someone once told me the most impactful statement a parent can make to their child is that we love watching them play. To me it’s great to come back and watch JC play because of their commitment to excellence and it’s where Trip grew so much as a person learning the importance of sportsmanship, and trying your hardest. Even as a parent there is something special about feeling like your part of something special and supporting a program that was so instrumental in not only developing Trip as a lacrosse player but also teaching him valuable life lessons and I love carrying that forward. I know how much it meant to me growing up to not only have my parents support at games, but also support from others.”
King whose son Mason graduated in 2015 uses the word “joy” to describe his Johns Creek lacrosse memories.
King said he loves “the entire Johns Creek Lax family past and present for all the joy that has been given to me and my family and especially for all the special father & son moments that were created!”
Even though Mason hasn’t played at the school for 2 years, King is a regular at the home games.
King said, “I love the sport and attending current JC games gives me a chance to reflect and relive a bit of that joy that I will always cherish…especially reflecting on all the wonderful boys (now men) and families that we are privileged to know because of JC lax.”
All of the Top Row Dads talk about the love they have for the boys and the Johns Creek program.
Wilks said, “Probably the most rewarding thing for me is seeing the kids work real hard and seeing them after the game win or lose and all of them smiling and saying “Hi Coach”. They don’t realize the sense of pride that gives me. So as with any great working relationship, there are rewards that go both ways and I have a lot to be thankful for as result of how the kids treat me. The wall I built the year after my son went away to school up on the practice field was my way of saying I will always be a JC lax fan.”
Monahan expects the Top Row Dads will be around for a few more seasons.
Monahan said, “For me, it is great when Bob, Joe, Joe, Jeff and some of the other Dads come to the games to support the kids these last two years even though their boys had graduated and went off to college. They come back to support the new team, and share in new memories with us. I have a few years left watching my son play and I have a feeling that they will be there with me.”
Wilks said, “Having coached a lot of the kids from 6th grade all the way thru high school, I couldn’t imagine a way to spend a winter/spring night then up in the top row.”
Boothe said, “I think it’s really cool that the dads from graduated players still come to the games and support the team – and of course still stand in their old location!”
The Top Row Dads will next be at the Colosseum on Friday, March 10th, when the Gladiators host Peachtree Ridge. The Junior Varsity game is at 5:55pm, and the Varsity Game is at 7:30pm.