Friday, October 26, 2012

Pro and Poor, My Reflections on Professional Lacrosse

In 1988-89 most of us MILL players earned $100 per game and we earned that only when we dressed for games. The salary situation isn’t much better today for pro lacrosse players about $13,000 per season-double that if you play both professional indoor and outdoor. Most of us I would argue played because we loved the game, the paycheck was just a bonus and it helped our egos too; it’s probably the same with the pro-lax players today. The tryouts of that team were very competitive and I was surprised that I made the team with so many Division I and III College All Americans and US Team Players. Here I was, a guy who did not make All Across the Street as a Syracuse Lacrosse Player! We had about 25 man roster and we dressed 23 guys each game. That season I dressed in two of the teams ten or more games--that's right, I made $200 bucks for the entire season! But not getting much game time made more miserable than the measly pay check or the lack thereof. But making that team did boost my confidence and it most likely increased my chances of receiving an invitation to try out for the 1990 US national team. I believe 120 players received invites to try out for the team in the summer of 1989.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Advocating A Diversity of Sports and Passion

My son is a lacrosse fanatic. However he started asking me if you could play hockey. He’s now developing is skating skills and in preparation to play on a youth hockey team. Allot of parents are pushing their children to focus on one sport like lacrosse in hope of increasing their chances of one day landed a scholarship to a prestigious university. I disagree and suggest children enjoy a diversity of sports. In middle school, I started watching a lot of ice hockey during the height of Hall of Famer Bobby Orr’s career with the Boston Bruins. Watching him sparked my short lived hockey career which started in a house league hosted at the now defunct Westchester Skating Rink in Hawthorne, New York. I played hockey from the sixth grade until my senior year in high school and it made me I would argue a much better lacrosse player, particular in terms of ground balls. I noticed that one of the best players in terms of ground balls in our youth player was a hockey player. Lacrosse is Canada’s national sport by the way, not hockey. The games complement each other well and I am excited my son wants to play. I still skate today but no longer player lacrosse. Most importantly allow your child to explore those activities they are passion about. For example my seven year old daughter is passionate about figure skating and knitting and my wife and I are doing everything we can to nurture that passion. I particularly like these two activities because she can do them for a lifetime.

Lacrosse and NHL Goal Scorers:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Link to a Generation of Lacrosse Greats

Me, Bob Henrickson in the middle, and SU teammate and Hall of Famer Brad Kotz  in our team US National Team Swag in Australia, 1990
I had the opportunity to play with Hall of Famer Bob Hendrickson on the 1990 US national team. Bob had a long career, including All-American honors at Cornell University in many years as a club player for the New York athletic club. Bob, who hails from Manhasset Long Island, best be described as one of the smoothest  players I've ever seen. I see him as a cross between the slashing NBA's Hall of Famer shooting guard George Gervin nicknamed "The Iceman" and the Baltimore Orioles' Iron-man Cal Ripken Junior who consistently played well into his late 30s. Bob had a long career and when I played with him in 1990 he must have been about 36 years old and a practicing veterinarian in Manhasset. What he lacked in explosive speed in his later career he made up for it with excellent decisions and didn't turn the ball over. That's why he was a repeat national team selection.  Most importantly for me Bob was my link to a generation of lacrosse greats who he played with and against that I could ask him about. Players like Cornell's Eamon Mckneaney, Mike French, Chris Kane, Bill Marino, Navy's Jeff Long,  and Hopkin's Dave Huntley and Mark Greenberg. These are players I say play on ABC wide world of sports back when I first started playing lacrosse in the mid 1970s. Hall of them are in the National Hall Fame.

Cornell Members of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame:

Hopkins vs Cornell 1978 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championship:

Hall of Famer Bob Henrickson:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Metro Lacrosse Fund Raiser At Fenway Park on November 15, 2012

Metro Lacrosse Fund Raiser:

Hall of Famers Jim Darcangelo, Mark Millen, and the Gait Brothers

Photo of Lax World's Baltimore Location
Jim Darcangelo (Towson, Maryland Lacrosse Club, 2x USA, Hall of Fame) was the first to leverage his time as rep (STX) to create Lax World, a lacrosse retailer first in Baltimore and now with stores in other locations and he has done well over the years. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Mark Millen (UMass 2x USA) had been been a savvy lacrosse entrepreneur with camps, clinics etc. Mark’s worth ethic as a player and entrepreneur reminds me of James Brown, the God father of soul who people called “the hardest working man in show business.” I heard Mark give his Hall of Fame acceptance speech and I noted when he said, “I make my entire income off of lacrosse.” That statement rang in my head. Like Roger Bannister, the first guy to run a sub-four minute mile, Gait, Darcangelo and Millen proved you could live by our game. In the 1990s, most understood how the great Gait brothers could, but they were considered superheroes of the game but particularly Millen and others after him have shown that with hard work one could earn money following their passion for lacrosse.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hall of Fame Week, Larry Quinn

I took this photo of John Detomasso and  Larry Quinn, at a pratice in Perth, Australia in  1990

Larry Quinn, a two time Division Player of the Year and Goalie of the Year, was a Fordham Law School student when we became teammates on Long Island Hofstra lacrosse club in 1987. I don’t ever think I a saw Larry panic during a game. He was like playing with a funny college professor of the game who inspired confidence in the defensemen in front of him. He was a high school All American at lacrosse at legendary Levittown Memorial which along with cross town rivals Levittown Division graduated a number of members of the National Hall of Fame such as Larry and Coach Bill Tierney. For four years at Hopkins I believe my club teammates John DeTommaso, Larry Quinn, and Brad McClain played on the defense for Coach Jim Tierney, who at that time served as the defensive coordinator of the teams I lost to at Syracuse in the national championship in 1984 and 1985! Thus I made it my business to pick their brains as much as possible and learn everything I could from them.  I have heard it said and I agree, that before the geographical expansion of the game, the Hopkins coaching staff probably had done the best job of all of the legendary college colleges of recruiting the perfect blend of hard-nosed players from the island, and on occasion, other points north of Baltimore, with players with superior stick skills in Baltimore County and other points south, west, and east of Baltimore. John and Larry one could argue are the best players at their respected positions to come off the Island. 

Larry Quinn in the SU Hopkins 84 Championship:[Watch 11 min 11 sec]

My College, Club, and U. S. Team Players and Coaches

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Allan Hodish and Hempstead Lacrosse

Click this image to enlarge and read this 1980 article on Hempstead Youth Lacrosse. That's coach Allan Hodish  in the photo on the left. Guest blogger Aaron Jones reflects on what Hodish brought to Hempstead many years ago. Jones went on from Hempstead to play at Cornell in the late 1980s where he appeared in a National Championship game against John Hopkins.
[Guest blogger Aaron Jones] My relationship with this game started from unique circumstances. Let me give you a little insight into my background so you can understand what I mean by “unique circumstances.” Hempstead, Long Island in 1975 was not unlike most communities of its time, very homogeneous in its makeup. In Hempstead, there were people of similar backgrounds that lived together side by side to form a close nit community. Hempstead was almost entirely an African American community. It was a proud community of modest means but deep in its history of athletic prowess at every level. Year after year football, basketball, baseball and track teams from youth levels all the way up through high school varsity sports were successfully competing on their athletic playing fields throughout long island and beyond. The Salvation Army youth basketball team was famed around the world for its dominance. The varsity basketball team was a feature story in the local and regional news seemingly every year for its accomplishments on the court. The football team was as successful as the others, always fairing very well in league competition. I think you get the point, in Hempstead athletic excellence was the norm year in & year out! Around that time a new gentlemen came into the Hempstead community with an eye on bringing a new sport to the town. He was very different from the normal Hempstead coach, Jewish by faith, outspoken by nature, and caring to his core! Alan Hodish began touring the Hempstead streets with his Toyota Celica hatchback encouraging Hempstead youth to make their way to the local park. There Hodish demonstrated a new sport called lacrosse and influenced scores of boys to give the game a shot. I was one of those young kids picking up this foreign sport for the first time and through it I earned an opportunity to attend Cornell University where I played lacrosse in the 1980s.

Navy’s African American All American Syd Abernethy:

Hobart’s African American All American Ed Howard:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lacrosse and Football, Football and Lacrosse

Aaron Jones
In his senior year at Hempstead High School, the University of North Carolina offered Aaron Jones a scholarship to play defensive back for the Tar Heels but his mother, an English teacher at the time, at Hempstead High School, insisted on Ivy League academic excellence over ACC football. Hempstead athletes often excelled in football and basketball at the high school and many had the option to play those sports in college and did as scholarship athletes. They include University of Iowa defensive end Larry Blue (defense), Syracuse University linebacker Reggie Terry and who is now Director of Football Administration for the Arizona Cardinals (attack), Temple University linebacker Tim Terry (Goalie), Northeastern University basketball and football standout Lamont Hugh (midfield) and Syracuse University and NFL wide receiver Rob Moore who was a varsity midfielder at Hempstead his sophomore and junior year before he turned to track his senior year (Rob is returning to SU’s football program this year as the team’s wide receiver coach). All these guys played youth and high school lacrosse because of the recruiting effort and passion for the game of Al Hoddish, the man with a hatchback full of lacrosse sticks and a vision for greatness for the youth of Hempstead.