Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pro and Poor: My Season as Professional Lacrosse Player Part 2

The 1988-1989 New York Saints of the MILL that I played on consisted of largely my Long Island Lacrosse club teammates and a few players from the recently established New York Athletic Club Team (NYAC) out of Manhattan. Notable NYAC players on the Saints included Hall of Famers Kevin “Cooker” Cook (Levittown Division, Cornell, 2x USA) and Roddie Marino (Massapequa, UVA, 2x USA). The Saints also had a lot of other very good players including my Long Island Lacrosse teammates Jeff “Whack” Goldberg a Levittown guy and good friend of Kevin Cook. Whack and Cooker both where both surfing fanatics and they had the same builds and used the same Brine superlight 4 sticks. Few players in my day played with that model stick. I later learned from Cornell’s Frank Kelley it was the perfect stick for faceoff guys. From NYAC we also had the very talented defensemen Darren Muller (Brown All American and the 1985 Ivy League Player of the Year). Darren was big, fast, and a great athlete who played with reckless abandon. He played like Dennis Rodman—lots of hustle and throwing body everywhere to make plays but without all the off court drama. I may have been a professional lacrosse player, but without my day job teaching at Hempstead High School, I would have starved, sleep on the streets, defaulted on both my car payment and my student loan.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Club Lacrosse Then and Professional Lacrosse Now Part 3

Part of a 1990 USA Lacrosse program

Our Thursday nights the team did line drills, full field passing/clearing drills and then scrimmage for the lion shared of the time. The scrimmages helped me a great deal because I played with and against some of the best players in the world. You would see some incredible moves, shots, saves, checks, and goals, but for me I loved the great passes. As a former attackman and Magic Johnson fan, I’ve always enjoyed a great assist. Over my career I seen some also feeders most them attackman; I am thinking of Tim Nelson (Yorktown, SU) and Tim Goldstein (Wardmelville, Cornell, USA). But there are not allot of midfielders who get the reputation as great feeders. Our club had two great ones—Randy “Harpo” Natoli (Sewanhaka, UVA, 2x USA), and Norm Engelke (Sewanhaka, Nassau, Cornell, 2x USA, Hall of Fame). Both these guys had a nasty stutter step that broke ankles, drew slides, and left folks open. Then they had the ability to throw look away passes that thread the needle to the open man who would end up one on one with the helpless goalie. Both these guys come from Sewanhaka the same Long Island high school that produced the great attackman Eamon McEneaney (Cornell, USA, Hall of Fame). I believe that great players work hard during practice. As the saying goes, practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. I was one of the guys that loved going to practice and loved watching my teammates do amazing things on the field. I was just a straight up fanatic who worked hard in the weight room, regularly ran, and seldom missed a practice. My philosophy was and still is, I will out work my competitors and do the little extra to set me apart from the pack.