Monday, March 12, 2012

Club Lacrosse Then and Professional Lacrosse Now Part 2

 Perth, Australia 1990: Left to right, Steve Mitchell (St Paul’s, Hopkins), Fred Opie (Croton Harmon, Syracuse), George McGeeney (Towson HS, UMBC), Sal LoCascio (UMass), Zack Colburn (Penn), Mike Morrill (Hopkins).  

During my first two seasons with Long Island Lacrosse Club in 1987 and 1988, I did some serious commuting driving fifty miles one way to Danbury to work Monday through Friday and an hour, depending on traffic, to Hempstead where Hofstra University is located on Thursday for practices and on Sundays for games. Moreover, way games would take me as far as Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore in my car. Jimmy Burke moved to Tarrytown my second year with the club and he we split the cost of the commute. In short, playing club ball back then was a time consuming and expensive endeavor not including providing your own equipment and paying team fees and all travel and lodging expenses. But I loved every minute of it because it was unbelievable lacrosse! I was fortunate that my second year on the team, the first attempt to have a pro-outdoor league started. It was very controversial because many of us feared that signing a pro-out door contract would disqualify one from playing on the US National team. I received an offer to play for the New York team but I turned it town. But defensemen Bobby Vencak left our club to play for the Long Island Sachems in the pro league. As a result Coach Tom Postel moved me down to close defense which made me very happy (no more sprinting on and off the field as a long stick middie!). I also played next to DeTo on close D and learned a great deal from him and Larry Quinn in the process. The physical strength and savvy veteran club players in their twenties and thirties is far superior to that of the majority of college players. That’s one reason few undergrads make the US National team. For instance, the year I made it in 1990 we had only one collegiate player—Andy Krause (Garden City and Virginia). I believe my decision to play club ball down on the Island instead of the Pepsi sponsored team in my native Hudson Valley region may have rubbed the Westchester folks wrong like I was snubbing them. I made the decision based on my experience of playing summer league both in Westchester and in the old Freeport League during my collegiate days. The competition on the Island proved far superior to Westchester and I simply wanted to play with and against the best at that time. Certainly the quality of lacrosse in the Hudson Valley as improved, but the game on the Island in my opinion is still bigger, the same hold true in Baltimore. Yes bigger is not always better, but I think the final results showed that I made the right choice in deciding to commute and play for Long Island Lacrosse Club. As in jazz, if you have the chops, playing with the best, makes you better. This also true when comes to being a husband, father, professor, and author; learn from people who are passionate about getting better every day.

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