Saturday, March 10, 2012

Club Lacrosse Then and Professional Lacrosse Now

Long Island and USA teammate Norm Engelke and me at a practice in Perth, Australia, 1990

My first season with Long Island Lacrosse Club in 1987 was a great learning experience and confidence builder for me as a young player. Our team included lots of veteran US team players. They included Matt Crowley “snapper” for his quick and overpowering shot (Cornell, 2x USA), Ed Hughes (Adelphi), Tom Sweeney (Rutgers), Frank Tashman (Sewanhaka, Nassau, Adelphi), Steve (CW Post) and Vinnie (Hofstra 4x USA) Sombrotto, John DeTommaso “DeTo” (Farmingdale, Hopkins, 3x USA), Randy Natoli “Harpo” (Sewanhaka, UVA, 2x USA), Bobby Vencak (Farmingdale, Rutgers, USA), Larry Quinn (Levitt Town Division, Hopkins 3x USA), Jim Burke (Huntington, Cortland, 3x USA), Bob Beroza (Hempstead, Roanoke 2x USA), and Norman Engelke (Sewanhaka, Cornell 3x USA), Others also played important roles in the team’s success including coach Tom Postel (CW Post 2x USA) and team manager John Philips (Cornell (3x USA manager). One of the keys to my success on and off the field is that I am like a sponge soaking up as much essential information from whoever I can. I learned a great deal from practicing against my teammates and playing in games with them. In my opinion, playing with DeTo and Larry Quinn made me a much better player because both guys are real students of the game. DeTo reminded me of what I’ve learned about Lebron James from his peers—he was a fierce competitor, great guy, and a court jester who loved the game and being around his teammates. Larry taught me how to stay cool under pressure on the field and how to make all things look easy—which drives opponents crazy. I played long stick middie my first year, a position I never liked. Why, because you spend more time running on and off the field than you do running up and down the field. However on such a talented team, I was glad to get playing time. Long Island Lacrosse Club was one of the elite teams in Club ball and the top 6 teams back then were as competitive as any of the professional teams today the only difference is we didn't get paid. However, our championship games did get televised and the best among us filled the majority of the spots on US National teams. I would argue that most of older guy are very happy to see pro the league today and exited for the few players who can call playing lacrosse (along with endorsements and camps) their full time gig.

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