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At Christmas, Crampton’s mom sent presents for Emelia and Anabel from New Jersey, dresses from Frozen. The girls sang the songs for hours. On campus, as the federal lockout went on another week, the team ran its own practices, with captains relying on the tribe’s sachems to keep their players focused.

“A lot of us turned to lacrosse to get away,” Crampton said. “Even on days off, guys were going down to the locker room to be with each other.” Seremet returned in time for a preseason game with Notre Dame. The Falcons beat the nationally ranked Irish and, despite the horrifi c events the previous fall, a breakout season was underway. The team fi nished 11- 6, the school’s fi rst winning season since 1997. The Falcons won their conference and earned Air Force’s fi rst NCAA tournament bid in nearly 30 years. Both Smith and Crampton were named All-Americans, the fi rst Falcons since 1997 to earn that distinction.

But the 2014 team’s most

were fl own to area hospitals but eventually recovered. As their coach lay in the hospital, the Falcons were about to learn just how close they had become. “You can’t help but feel helpless,” Crampton said. “But then you fi gure out little things you can do.”

“As captains, we had to meet

and say, ‘First, how are we going to support Coach?’” Smith said. “What does the team need to do? And second, how are we going to approach the team with the news and go through the practice plan when our heads are everywhere else?” Seremet’s extended family arriving from out of state stayed with Smith’s family in Denver. Teammates took turns stopping by Seremet’s house to check in and cover household chores.

important legacy, Seremet believes, is a legacy of confi dence on the fi eld and accountability off of it, traits forged during those terrible weeks in the fall of 2013. “It’s the story behind the story behind the story,” Seremet said. “You have to move on. You can’t stand still or go back in time. No matter what happens in your life, you have to take a step forward. It might not be that big a step, but you have to move forward.” Today, Emelia and Anabel are grade schoolers.

“I’m a single dad,” Seremet said. “I’ve got to make sure they get to school, make sure they’re clean. But we talk about Mommy all the time — at night before bed or anytime we look at the stars.”

The freshmen from that 2014 Air Force team now are the seniors who took a late fl ight to Durham and woke up expecting to win. After a 15-3 fi nish in 2016, and with three of the team’s top four scorers back in Hruby, Andrew Tien and Chris Walsch, expectations are high.

“From a lacrosse standpoint, to win that [NCAA] fi rst-round game is next on the horizon,” Seremet said. “It’s tough to do. Last year was a lot of one-goal games we had to grind out, and we need to see if this year’s team had what last year’s team had. If our [players] get in trouble, if they get hurt or have adversity, you’ve got to tell them, ‘You have no choice. You have to get up the next day and take on the day. You can’t quit.’” USL



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