Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Metro Lacrosse's Faceoff at Fenway Park

Metro Lacrosse, a Boston based NGO using lacrosse to teach life skills to boys and girls. To learn more, check out this video.

November 18, 2014 Faceoff at Fenway Tickets: http://faceoff.brownpapertickets.com/

Jim Brown Lacrosse Stories: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=Jim+Brown

Fred Opie's Story About the 1990s US Men's U. S. National Lacrosse Team Tryouts: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/2010/04/integrated-us-national-team-tryout-in.html

Jim Brown and SU at Yale in 1957: http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/07/09/sports/doc4ffb616868e68179197528.txt

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coaching Stories

Hempstead varsity lacrosse team photo circa 1986: Kenny Moore, Kevin McClure, Sinclair Basnight, Donald Jones, Egon Robertson, John Williams, Derek Payne, Danny Williams, Gerald Cordova, Charles Edge, Aaron Jones, Jerry McCarter, Caesar Lara, William Humphrey, Milton Warker, Norris Taylor, Robin Taylor
I taught and coached football and lacrosse at Hempstead High School during the 1988-89 academic year. The district had failed to pass it budget and operated on an austerity budget—restricted funding for sports with funds only for coach’s salaries, insurance, buses etc. The student body had been over 95% black and remainder lower class Latinos and whites. In the 1960s the school had gained national recognition for its academic and athletic achievements. The High School began a decline with the close of Mitchel Air Force Base in 1961, an important source of jobs for the community and the beginning of capital and white flight from the school district. Regan era cut backs led to further problems along with the coming of the crack cocaine epidemic. Despite these hardships, a group of dedicated teachers and coaches insured that Hempstead grads continued to attend some of the finest schools in the country. In the team photo above one fines Metro Lacrosse CEO Aaron Jones who played collegiality at Cornel University and Army officer Dan Williams who earned All American honors at West Point.  

Hempstead Lacrosse History: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=Hempstead

Coaching Stories: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=coach


Monday, September 15, 2014

Aaron Jones' Lacrosse Reflections


Photo of guest blogger and Cornell lacrosse alum Aaron Jones throwing a check against a Yale attackman circa 1987.

By the spring of 1975, Coach Al Hodish organized a team to compete throughout long island against other communities. The towns that surround Hempstead were both largely white and lacrosse power houses such as Garden City, Lynbrook, Elmont, Baldwin, Sewanhaka, Levitt Town Division, Manhasset, and many others. In those communities kids began playing lacrosse as early as the age of five. But for Hempstead youngsters like me and others such as John Williams, Brandon James, Albert Walker, James Freeman, Kevin McClure, Egan Robinson, among others had no idea how long or how well the other communities had been involved with the game of lacrosse. We were driven by our love for the game and our will to win. By the end of the season, we were hooked. In those lacrosse communities surrounding Hempstead, white kids began playing lacrosse as early as the age of 5yrs old. But for us black Hempstead kids, ignorance was bliss. We had no idea how long or how well the other communities had been involved with the game of lacrosse. We were driven by our love for the game and our will to win. That nucleus of players bonded around a passion for lacrosse. By 1980 we had advanced to high school and became a dominate team competing at highest level of lacrosse in the region; more on Hempstead lacrosse history tomorrow.

Aaron Jones Related Lacrosse Stories: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=jones


Friday, September 12, 2014

Syracuse Lacrosse Swag in the 1980s

Fred Opie following a 1985 home game in the Dome
For me fall ball meant swag! For a lacrosse junkies a new helmet, gloves, and other pads that smelt like the inside of new car was like nirvana! Back then we had refurbished turf shoes and spikes hand me downs from the football program because the lacrosse coaches had not received a shoe deal yet, but I did not care and just knew I was too cool. Today's generation of SU players recieved fabulous swag each fall season because of the programs consistent success and the media coverage that has generated over the years for such a minor sport like lacrosse. I am amazed when I go into stores like Dike's Sporting Goods and see so much Syracuse Lacrosse apparel for sale. Sporting SU lacrosse swag in the fall of 1983 put a little pep in my step as strolled across campus identifying with a wining program during a time when the football program had little to celebrate.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Seeing Something That Others Can't See

Celebrating with Dan Pratt after a goal I scored in the 1985 NCAA Finals which we lost to Hopkins 
I've been talking about fall ball reflecting on my first days on campus at Syracuse University (SU) in 1983. My orientation to SU lacrosse happened organically with a very talented 1983 recruiting class. The class included Neil Alt (Towson, MD) Dan Pratt (Homer, NY) Gordie Mapes (Rush-Henrietta, Rochester), Todd Curry (West Gennee) Pat Donahue (West Gennee), Mike O’Donnell “OD” (Yorktown), Tom Nelson (Yorktown) Matt Holman (Summit, NJ), Mark Brannigan (West Genee, Cobleskill), Chris Bruno (Cobleskill), Matt Cacacciato (Fox Lane, NY, Cobleskill) Rhett Cavanaugh (Fox Lane, NY, Army) and Chris Baduini (Montclair, NJ) Some of us first met at the 83 championship team banquet in the summer following SU's victory over Hopkins. Simmie had us sit together introducing each one to the audience with some brief remarks. Coach made a lofty comment about my ability and that I would be a very special player. The comment put me in an awkward position with the other recruits and championship team members at the event. But early on Simmie saw something in me back then that other coaches didn’t. However what he saw remained hidden until I adapted to a new system and level of play and that’s exactly the role of fall ball for a new recruit. It gives you time to adjust to bigger and faster players who are better than what most players see in high school or in my case junior college.




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Ball and Battling with Depression Part 2

Fred Opie covering Hobart's Marc Moore, Manhasset High School's Lacrosse Day of Champions 1984
Started talking about my experience as a cocky Junior College recruit from Herkimer showing up at Syracuse University (SU) in the fall of 1983. I was coming off summer surgery on both knees for tendinitis and trying to get back in playing shape. Once I got cleared to play my head remembered the post surgery pain and said, “nothing doing!” I quickly became a Division I coaches worst nightmare—a scholarship player with no game! I was out of shape and had bad habits from playing against lesser competition in junior college.  It felt like my SU teammates and the coaches had serious doubts about my ability to perform and I felt like you do when you are going through a break up that you don’t want to happen. Over the years I’ve seen depression as a player, coach, and professor in folks more focused on their do than their who. It happens when you invest more in what you do then who you are. I’ve also observed that among highly recruited college athletes several things can follow, they overeat, transfer, quit the team, or adapt and thrive. In the fall of 1983 I battled with depression but many people at the time most likely did not know it. It's serious folks but I can tell you from experience that with professional help you can get through it.  


Herkimer, Syracuse, Club, and U. S. Teammates: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=%22Tom%22

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall Ball and Battling Depression

Practice photo from on Coin Field, Syracuse University 1984  
Fall ball in lacrosse parlance is the time in which college players compete for starting position in the spring regular season. In the fall of 1983 I was over confident that I would start as I stepped on the campus of Syracuse University (SU). I was a two time junior college All American and had the playing experience of a big fish in a small pond. I was out of playing shape and over my head.  Today I look in shape to most folks, but playing shape is another level of fitness. Do to knee surgery and overeating I lost my normal quick first step and the footwork essential to defending an offensive player.  After Doc Baker cleared me to play, I returned to the field but during one on one drills guy flew by me like I was a Barak Obama cut out in front of the White House!  In the fall of 1983 I started a battle with depression for several long and dark months which the overcast weather in Syracuse did not help. I doubt however if many people at the time knew it. Depression is serious and I suggest anyone dealing with it seek professional help. It's not something you can just tough it out like athletes are prone to do. 

Syracuse Lacrosse Stories: http://lacrossememoir.blogspot.com/search?q=%22Tom%22