Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sankofa Lacrosse Interviews, Part 3 Sam Bradman

Fred Opie interview with SanKofa Lacrosse Team's Sam Bradman who played college ball at Salisbury State and now on the LXM tour. 

Sankofa Lacrosse Interviews: [watch now]

Sam’s Bradman’s College Career: [watch now 2 min 28 sec]

LXM Pro Lacrosse Highlights:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sankofa Lacrosse Interviews Part 2

Fred Opie interviews University of Virginia alum and LXM Pro John Christmas and Onondaga CC's Kieondre Woody members of the SanKofa Lacrosse Team. Opie played lacrosse at Syracuse University and on the 1990 U. S. National Team. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Frederick Douglass Opie is an invited halftime speaker at a fall youth Lacrosse tournament at Lincoln Sudbury High School in Massachusetts in November 2013. In this halftime talk Opie challenges players, coaches, and parents to redefine success on and off the field. He says that success and failure in most instances are planned events and that stress is most often comes from lack of preparation. He shares how he as person with ADD/ADHD as taken steps to succeed over the years. Opie played lacrosse at Syracuse University and on the 1990 U. S. National Team. He is Professor of History and Foodways at Babson College.

One Nation Lacrosse [Watch Now 7 min 19 sec]

Helping Boys Develop Friendships: [Listen 17 min: 51 sec]

What Makes A Good Coach? [Listen Now 52 min 50 sec]

Lessons from My Graduate School Experience:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sankofa Lacrosse Interviews Part 1

Fred Opie interview SanKofa Lacrosse Team members Jovan Miller (Syracuse All American midfielder) and Milton Lyles (UNC defensemen) on October 25, 2013 on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Opie played lacrosse at Syracuse University and on the 1990 U. S. National Team. 

Sankofa Lacrosse Team Member Interviews: [Watch Now]

Syracuse’s Jovan Miller:

Syracuse Lacrosse Stories:

Friday, November 8, 2013

SanKofa Lacrosse Team Makes Its Debut Part 2

Chazz Woodson (Brown University alum) and Kyle Harrison (Johns Hopkins University alum) are the co-founders of the SanKofa Lacrosse Team.  They share their vision for the concept of the team with members of the team, the English National Team, and members of the Brown University Men's and Women's lacrosse teams.  Fred Opie recorded the event on October 25, 2013 on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Sankofa Lacrosse Team Member Interviews: [Watch Now]

Kyle Harrison Related Stories:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lacrosse, Friendship, Sportsmanship, Competition, and Hard work

Fred Opie speak at the first annual One Nation event, a fall youth Lacrosse tournament which was held at Concord, high school in Concord Massachusetts in November 2012. Opies says, "In her book Team of Rivals, Harvard Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin argues that Abraham Lincoln became one of the greatest U. S. presidents because he made his political rivals members of this cabinet and his closet advisors. I didn't have as much wisdom and foresight as Lincoln but the same scenario happened when I joined the Long Island Hofstra lacrosse club in 1987. I became teammates with Hopkins rivals John DeTommaso "Deto," Larry Quinn, and Brad McClain." Fred Opie is a Professor of History and Foodways at Babson College. He blogs about lacrosse here and food and history blog at

One Nation Lacrosse [Watch Now 7 min 19 sec]

Related Stories:

Helping Boys Develop Friendships: [Listen 17 min: 51 sec]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

SanKofa Lacrosse Team Makes Its Debut Part 1

Fred Opie participated (as a keynote speaker and recorder of oral histories) in the inaugural event of the SanKofa Lacrosse Team lacrosse on October 25, 2013 on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. African-American lacrosse players from across the country came together for this historic event. Opie played lacrosse at Syracuse University and on the 1990 U. S. National Team. Opie  coaches lacrosse and share his experiences and insights of the game on this blog.

African Americans in Lacrosse Stories:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lacrosse Groupies

Left to right, Steve Mitchell (Hopkins), Me (Fred Opie) (SU), George McGeeney (UMBC), Sal LoCascio (UMass), Zack Colburn (UPenn), Mike Morrill (Hopkins)
Groupies are those who stalk "celebs."  I saw them like flies on honey around SU football players and again after I graduated around New York Jets and Giants football preseason training camps back when those teams held camp at Pace University in Westchester County and Hofstra University in Nassau County. Some of the prettiest women I’ve ever seen I would call groupies. They show up dressed to turn heads. They come seeking a gladiator on the grid iron and the gladiators, many of them with girl friends and wives, eagerly participate in this just for “fun sexual sport.” In elite lacrosse circles I almost never saw these types of women hanging around, mostly because they knew that most of us "pro lacrosse" guys could not afford the lifestyle they want.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Race and Our Game

Navy Coach Rick Sowell Leading the Midshipmen, Photo by Phill Hoffman
Fred Opie: The very nature of growing up black in a white suburb in the 70s, 80s and then playing what was then and essentially still is a “white boys” sport in the the 80s and 90s, as my African American friends so often remind me, put me in unusually intimidate spaces with white folks, and sometimes in spaces in which some racist whites folks in our game made it clear I might be seen on the field maybe, but my opinion and critic was not welcome. I remember as a player and as Hank Janzyck’s defensive coordinator at Gettysburg College, on more than one occasion, I would challenge a referee's call in an assertive but respective way, and white officials would turn on me with an intolerance that they frankly did not show toward white players and coaches on my team or the opposing team. For many folk seeing a black lacrosse player or even more so, a coach is as rare as seeing a black member of the U. S. Senate. I wondered if Rick had similar experiences.

Rick Sowell: I think it would be na├»ve to think I didn’t experience racism growing up [and in our game]. Some of it was subtle, some not so subtle, but it pales in comparison to all the positives I’ve been able to take away from being involved with the sport of lacrosse and growing up in this environment. The friendships, competition and travel are all experiences I would not trade for anything. Through lacrosse, I was able to meet my wonderful wife and we now have two wonderful girls, so I have been blessed.

Rick Sowell Stories:

Rick Sowell, Winning Beyond the Game:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My First Stick

The STX Barney which was similar my first stick, the STX 76er 


Like your first kiss, any fanatical lacrosse player remembers his or her first stick. Mine was a red STX 76er with a traditional pocket, and by today’s standard, a heavy round white shaft. The head was the size and shape of STX barney accept it had three wide stripes at the top of the head similar to the 1978 STX Sam-which by the way made a lot of money for STX. I ordered the 76er through Varsity Lacrosse Coach Nick Padula. This was the summer of 1976. Pack in those days, coaches in small villages in places like Croton-on-Hudson served as the middle men between local players and the three lacrosse companies of that time: Brine, STX, and Warrior. Truth be told, the Warrior Company of that era is a shadow of the company on steroids today which is sponsoring the U. S. Men’s National team. Coach would put the word out that he would be putting in a mail order for sticks in hope of getting enough orders to merit a discount on the entire order. That’s how it was in those days. My town, which always had thriving youth sports, never had a sporting goods store. In fact, I dad had to take me to nearby Peekskill to purchase me first baseball glove and rubber spikes to play minor league. Lacrosse sticks in those days were like really high quality imported olives—most stores not only did not carry them—they never heard of them before; more on lacrosse commerce in the 1970s tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Aaron Jones, My Cornell Years

Aaron Jones, a Cornell lacrosse Alum, clearing the ball in a game at Yale University, circa 1987
During my Cornell playing years, I experienced racial challenges on the field and off but with the strength I gained from my background was able to meet those antagonists head-on. Because of those experiences, I share a bond with so many other great African American lacrosse players. Players I came across during my Cornell playing days include Fred Opie (Syracuse), Rickey Sowell (Washington College), Keith Owens & Rodney Dumpson (Syracuse), Raymond “Tiny” Crawford (Hobart), as well as high school teammates, John Williams & Brian Duncan (Adelphi) and Danny Williams (West Point). Our shared lacrosse playing experiences at the collegiate level have created an indelible bond with these players and people. One notable moment in those memories came in 1989 when Fred Opie, Danny Williams and I drove together to try-out for the 1990 US. National (or World) Team. That try-out was a once in a lifetime opportunity shared by 3 guys from almost identical backgrounds and lacrosse experiences. Fred was selected for the team and Danny and I felt like we made the team along with him. The common bond continues today. I am linked in with all the African American players that forged through the circumstance of being a pioneer in a fantastic sport.

Cornell Lacrosse Stories:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lacrosse Cool Then and Now, the 1970s

Photo: 1976, Cornell Hall of Famer Eamon McEneaney against an unknown Hopkins defender
The other day I started sharing about the purchase of my first lacrosse stick in 1976 and the conundrum of traditional pockets when you know nothing about stringing and adjusting them. In 1976 mesh pockets did exist, but they were nothing like the one I used my senior year at Syracuse or what players today are using. In 76 a mesh pocket was hard to break in and soft mesh, as far I remember, did not exist. Only goalies used them. In addition mesh did not give you the “cool styling and profiling points” that a traditional pocket gave you back then. Almost all the studs I followed growing up on Army lacrosse played with traditional. That was also the case for one of my favorite players back then, Hall of Famer Eamon McEneaney (Sewanhaka, Cornell). I first saw this All-American attackman score a punch of goals in route to a championship victory over John Hopkins on ABC’s wide world of sports. The game came on TV a week after the actual had been played. Today the definition of cool as changed and mesh is in and traditional is out—accept for in the women’s game. Can someone school me on why mesh is not used in the women’s game?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hempstead's Lacrosse Legacy

Aaron Jones clearing the ball in a game at Yale University, circa 1987
Hempstead, New York, is a predominately African American suburban community with a urban feel to it. It had a successful program under Coach Al Londy which for some unknown reason went defunct but not before sending attackman James Ford onto Rutgers where he earned All American honors. After Londy, Coach Al Hodish jumped started the program in 1975 introducing it to me and a bunch of junior high classmates. That nucleus of players in my community developed a bond with each other and passion for lacrosse. By 1980 we had advanced to high school, added players like Danny Williams (Army), Brian Duncan, Tim Pratt, and John Williams (all three played at Adelphi), and we had become a dominate program used to competing at the highest level of lacrosse without regard to region or resume of our opponents. We played legendary teams from Concord, Massachusetts, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Ottawa, Canada; Baltimore, Maryland; and throughout Long Island. By the end of my senior year in high school (1983), guys on the team had earned All league, All County, All Long Island, and invitations to play in the National High School North – South All Star game. Many of us went on to play collegiate lacrosse and earn All American honors and invitations to play in the college North South All Star game. For me, Hempstead lacrosse was a springboard to Cornell University and a chance to play for legendary coach and Hall of Famer, Richie Moran. Today when I think back to my roots, I am grateful for the springboard to a division 1 lacrosse program and a prestigious academic atmosphere, however, I am more thankful for the foundation that community provided me. At Cornell things were tremendously different. Socially I, like all my high school teammates, transitioned from a uniform background where we were all black and working class to an elite Ivy League environment with an almost exclusively upper class white student body and faculty, with a few black faculty and some blacks working as staff around campus. Our love for the game was the only tangible commonality between me and a great majority of my white teammates at Cornell. Through it all, Cornell lacrosse was a phenomenal period in my life. On the field we were fortunate to resurrect the winning prowess that lacrosse program had established throughout most of its history; more tomorrow.

Hempstead Lacrosse History:

Cornell Lacrosse Stories:

Friday, August 30, 2013

What My Students Don't Know About Me

1983 Championship celebrations, I transferred to SU several months thereafter 
Today is student orientation here at Babson College where I am a member of the faculty. A reporter once asked me: what would your students be most surprised to learn about you? I paused and then said, they would be surprised to learn that school was never easy for me and that I never made the honor role in high school or dean’s list in college. Second, they would be surprised learn that I am more than “a nerdy academic” and in fact I was a “jock” who played in two national championships (losing both by the way) as a Syracuse University lacrosse player. 

Fall Ball Stories:

Staying Fit After Your Playing Days:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reflections on US National Team Tryouts Part 2

Rick Sowell running midfield for Washington College in game against Navy, Annapolis, Maryland
Guest blogger Rick Sowell: First thing I remember is that it was hot! I was fortunate enough to tryout on 3 separate occasions and each time I felt it was an honor to participate at such an elite level. It’s a challenge like none other; an opportunity to represent your country, how great is that? Four days of extremely intense lacrosse. I remember Fred [Opie] (Croton Harmon, Herkimer, Syracuse) played terrific, making plays all over the field. Aaron Jones (Hempstead, Cornell) also played well, I thought. It was my first time seeing Danny Williams (Hempstead, Army) play and boy could he get up and down the field in a hurry. His stick skills held him back a bit, but he was quite an athlete. I must also say, being among the few Afro-Americans to tryout was a neat experience. On the field trying to compete at the highest level, and off the field becoming friends was a lot of fun!

National Team Stories:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reflections on US National Team Tryouts

1990 exhibition game victory against the Syracuse All Stars in Liverpool, New York, a suburb of the City of Syracuse.

Following making the US National Team in the summer of 1989, I decided to take the GA position at Gettysburg instead of Dartmouth. SU teammate Tim Nelson took the job at Dartmouth and within weeks coach Dave Urick left Hobart to become the Head Coach at George Town; he hired Cobleskill and Washington College lacrosse alum Ricky Sowell as his first assistant. Rick and I tried out that same year for the US National team which made the experience in more special for me. There were something like 6 African Americans at that tryout which had to be a record at that time. Sidney Abernethy received an invitation to tryout back in 1981 but he turned it down feeling just too burnout and in need of a break from the game. Thus perhaps we were the first African Americans to do so in 1989 but I am not sure. The group include Ricky, Dan Williams (Hempstead, Army) Aaron Jones (Hempstead, Cornell), and a midfielder from Penn State Chris (can't remember the last name)who was a very good. I was the only one among us who made the team. I've heard tale that one disgruntled white player, a defensemen from my home region, claimed I made it because I was black. I found that pretty comical. I do believe I surprised a lot of folks because I was not a D-1 All American and other than the "shot" people had never heard of me or thought much about my game. However I started for two years on one of the top club teams, and earned all club honors. In addition, I definitely played my best lacrosse during the tryouts and enjoyed every minute of the experience. Ricky, Aaron, and I would go on to play for MLC in 1992 I believe, wining a club championship that year. I asked Rick to serve as a guest blogger and he was gracious enough to reflect on his lacrosse experience. The next couple of days you will see post he has written. Rick is the only African American Division I coach in the nation and he’s the Assistant Coach on this year’s 2010 U. S. National Team.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The High and the Dream Athletes Experience

 Me covering Umass midfielder Stephen Moreland Jr. North Andover, Mass at Umass, Amherst in 1985
I loved playing lacrosse so much that I once suspended a Spanish immersion program in Guadalajara, Mexico to catch a flight back to New York to play for free in a club championship game on the weekend.  That was before the days of the professional Major League Lacrosse (MLL). I’ve seen summer tournaments in which MLL players come and play against amateurs for the love of the game and the high that great athletic competition produces. It’s the high every athlete who has experienced craves and causes you to have that dream in which you some gain another year of eligibility and your run around the house looking for your equipment before the team bus pulls away. Many other college athletes tell me that they have the same reoccurring dream.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's Your Response to Losing A Big Game?

Dan Pratt 36 and Fred Opie 34 in the 1985 NCAA Lacrosse National Championship 

Lacrosse Pioneers in the Hudson Valley:

Lacrosse Back in the Day At Croton Point Park:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lacrosse TV Coverage Is Great, But Style of Play is Boring

Photo from last year's championship game SU vs Cornell. That game was boring too until the last 7 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Talking to Aaron Jones (Hempstead, Cornell, NY AC, and Maryland Lacrosse Club) last week. and we both raved about the ability to regularly enjoy college lacrosse games in the luxury of our homes on ESPN. The network is doing a wonderful job and hats off to the lax personalities doing the play by play and color commentary—I am particularly impressed with Paul Carcaterra who has emerging as the Tom Madden of lacrosse broadcasting with creative and insightful adjectives. I also enjoy hearing the sage like wisdom of former Army coach Emmer; like to see more former coaches like him in the broadcast booths. One of the observations that Aaron and I both made is that the style of lacrosse that we’ve seen over the past two years including Cornell and Syracuse, with some rare exceptions, is boring. Boring why? Offensive and defensive players almost never challenge each other one on one. I’m I the only one that misses seeing players breaking ankles with nasty stutter steps and split dodges and players that chase and then strip players to start a fast break? Yes there is some of that but not enough to make me sit through 4 quarters of men’s lacrosse. Do the players lack confidence or are the coaches control freaks? Love to hear your thoughts on comments sections of the blog below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Championships You Remember

Maryland's Frank Urso (left) taking a shot against Hopkins during a regular season game at Byrd Stadium in the  1970s

I saw my first live national championship game about 1978. Clay Johnson from my hometown played for Maryland and he was my hero. As a freshmen Clay had been talented enough to run second midfield for the Terps as they faced off against their across the beltway rival Johns Hopkins.  Both teams were loaded with All Americans.  Among them, Mark Greenberg on defense, Jeff Cook on attack, Dave Huntley at midfield; Dave played with day glow green Brine head, traditional pocket, and wooden shaft. I want a stick like that and later played with one.  Marilyn had Barry Mitchell on midfield, and many others that I just don’t remember. The game was played at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.  It was filled to capacity.  I remember walking into the stadium and making my way to my seats in the midst of an electric atmosphere.  I had recently started playing the game in eighth grade and watching a home town boy like Clay compete at that level made an indelible mark on my consciousness.  I think it was then that I decided that I wanted to be a Division I lacrosse player, as though that was a career; it sounds funny to me in retrospect.  What championship lacrosse game sticks out the most in your mind and why?  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

All Black Lacrosse Players Look A like.

Aaron Jones  
Fred Opie 1985 vs John Hopkins 
I first met Aaron Jones (AJ) in the fall of 1983 while visiting a coed on the campus of Cornell University. So here's the scene, I am a JUCO transfer in my first semester at Syracuse University in my junior year. AJ is freshman in his first semester at Cornell and we both play defense. Syracuse had just one it's first national championship in the spring of 1983 and Cornell may not have made the NCAA playoffs that year.  I run into AJ at a African-American sorority party. I'm wearing a Syracuse lacrosse polo and he a Cornell one. I was surprised and happy to meet another African-American lacrosse player. AJ in classic Hempstead style, we'll talk about that later, sized me up and begin to talk trash about how Cornell was going to stomp on Syracuse in the coming season! I had never met anyone with so much brash for my life! It was the start of a long friendship that continues today. My junior year I wore # 2 #34 my senior year. A teammate had #7 and I could not talk him into giving it up! Aaron and I cracked up when we realized the number of times white folk confuse us saying “Aaron great shot in that 85 championship game at Brown,"  and “Fred great check on that youtube video.” I scored the goal and Aaron made the check!  I guess all black lacrosse players look alike just like all Coach Mike West Genesee players play alike! 

Best Checks Videos:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Coach What Will Your Players Say About You?

1990 Exhibition game victory against the Syracuse All Stars in Liverpool, New York, a suburb of  the City of Syracuse
Related Links Below

Inside Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann, Gregory Jordan and Paula Ehrmann: [Watch 4 min 7 sec]
Book: Inside Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann, Gregory Jordan and Paula Ehrmann College, Club, and U. S. Team Players and Coaches

Movie Crooked Arrows:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Improving Your Shooting Skills

Here's an instructional video I shot at Brown University Lacrosse Camp. It features Coach Mark Miller a former Adelphi University goalie given some important tips on shooting from a goalie's point of view. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What Great Coaches Do

Me as a first year as an assistant varsity high school coach in 1986 
Some youth coaches I've met feel insecure about their abilities because they never played in high school or college. Great coaches can learn the game in different ways other than as starters on a team. You can become a student of the game reading, listening, and watching how to teach the fundamentals of the game. Great coaches work hard at learning how to teach the game to the age group they are working with. Great coaches run organized practices, show up early to set up the practice field, and ask questions when they you don't know something.  I've played with allot of great players over my career and I've been coached by allot of differed folks too. Being a great player doesn't mean you will be a great coach. Great coaches both love the game and love teaching. 

Coaching Series:

My Earliest Exposure to Lacrosse:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Be Careful What you Say to the People You Coach

Former Hopkins All American and U. S. National Team Player, Kyle Harrison
SU Lacrosse Alum Fred Opie

Inside Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann, Gregory Jordan and Paula Ehrmann: [Watch 4 min 7 sec]

Book: Inside Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann, Gregory Jordan and Paula Ehrmann

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 4

Here is an interview I did with my former coach Paul Wehrum on how the changes in the college recruiting culture has impacted prospective players. 

How would I fair today if I were a Herkimer player now in that Division 1 lacrosse recruiting/scholarship process as changed so drastically since 1983?

“Your chances would not be that good. The Division 1 programs are signing their kids earlier, you still have the schools that are saving spots for special situations—a need for a faceoff kid, a finisher, lefty attackman etc. You’ve have plenty of chances with second tier division 1 schools, but when it came to the [top ten schools] it would be highly unlikely that you would be one of their top recruits. But that being said, OCC has a bunch of kids playing at Syracuse. OCCC has become the Herkimer that was before I left. So even with the changing in recruiting, with a player of your ability, a two time All American, they would know who you are [because] you stood out you have to remember that. But if you don’t not make the nationals that would affect [your scholarship chances].”

I want to reiterate the point coach Wehrum is making here about recruiting today. A player’s opportunity to earn a scholarship at a top tier program (and those are the schools who have the full allotment of scholarship to grant out) are "seriously dimensioned," he says, if their team doesn’t make it to the final four of their state’s (or an travel team in an elite national tournament) championship "because it’s at the final four that the coaches from the top programs come to find players to fill the holes in their recruiting classes." Coach Wehrum goes on to say, “Our goal was to win the regionals to get to the nationals where the coaches would be waiting with scholarship offers to give to players who they thought could help their programs win,” he remembers. “They came to all of our games when we made to the nationals and that’s why so many of our kids got scholarship offers to great four year schools that played competitive college lacrosse.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 3

Coach Wehrum encourages his players. Herk vs ArmyB team, at West Point circa1982. 

I an interview with my Junior College (Herkimer County Community College) Coach Paul Wehrum. A native of Roosevelt, New York, his resume includes All American honors as a attackman at Cortland State and as a coach, US Team Assistant Coach in 1998, National Hall of Fame, three undefeated seasons, 15 consecutive regional championships, and 7 National Championships. I asked about his reflections on my career and how would fair if I were a prospective player today.

Thinking about young players that read my blog, for example my son who is ten loves lacrosse, and wants to get better. How do you account for the success I've had in lacrosse as one of your former players?

You came to Herkimer with a passion for Lacrosse and you had great stick skills. I think you were a very very talented young man and you worked very very hard at your stick skills.”

Did you predict my success or did it surprise you?

I did not predict you success because early on you had allot of physical limitations, you were pigeon toed, [and had foot and knee surgery] and you shocked me with what you did after Herkimer at Syracuse as a player like what happened in that Hopkins game at Brown. You found a real joy in playing. You did not feel restricted by me or by Coach Simmons. But if you had gone to different kind of program that did not give you that freedom, you could have had a very different playing career.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Coach Wehrum who I played for at Herkimer County Community College before transferring to Syracuse. Coach played on some great Cortland teams on attack. He played attack with a long stick.

When and how did the program at Herkimer turn the corner and begin to dominate your regional championship and Junior College Lacrosse?

“We turned the program in 1984 when we won our first regional championship against Cobleskill. That same spring you played in [the first of two national televised] National Championship games at Syracuse; that helped a great deal with attracting great players to come to Herkimer. Other players went on to other schools and the program kept building and getting better thereafter. Then we started winning one National Junior College Championship after another and the program just starting attracting better players year after year and those players went on to star at four year schools at the Division 1 and III levels”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 1

Coach Wehrum diagramming Xs and Os at a Herk vs Army B team, West Point circa 1982, click the image to enlarge it.

An interview I did with my Junior College (Herkimer County Community College) Coach, Hall of Famer Paul Wehrum. He is the only Junior College Coach in the National Hall of Fame and he served as US Team Coach in 1998. After three undefeated seasons, 15 consecutive regional championships, and 7 National Championships, coach retired as a Full Professor of Physical Education from the State of New York. He's now the head coach at Union College. 

Coach what were the keys to developing your successful career at Herk?

“The primary things were having an emphasis on the academics [by doing things like] only two hour practices. Using you as an example, I concentrated on your academics but also pushed you hard lacrosse wise and did the same with my other players. I made sure kids enjoyed both athletic and academic success and I would not let them give up because a teacher graded your paper and failed you. I encouraged them not to give up; most of our kids did not have great success in the classroom in high school. Then when players went on to good schools, their success naturally brought more players to Herkimer through word of mouth [and kind of a chain migration with repeat players from the same communities coming to Herkimer] from Croton, Baldwin, Yorktown, West Genesee, Irondequoit, and Homer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Be a Steve Mabus To Some Young Player

Freshmen Game at Croton Point Park in 1978,  Fred Opie and Hank Vanassalt in the black shirts with white sleeves. 
I am looking at my lacrosse career through Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. It argues that success is a combination of opportunities, timing, and people in one's life.So how did I  explain my rise in the lacrosse world despite starting the game late and not coming from a  perennial powerhouse program in the sport?  The summer before I entered 9th or 10th Steve Mabus’ family moved to my neighborhood. Steve played college lacrosse for Kutz Town State and he had a lacrosse goal in his back yard.  Steve was like having a private coach and he worked with me all summer long before Steve returned to college. Over the years I have reflected on the significance of Steve on my skill development and toughness. I often end lacrosse speeches with the statement: Be a Steve Mabus to some young player in your circle of influence. 

My Series on Outliers:

Excerpts from Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, The Story of Success:

Interview with Malcom Gladwell on Outliers: [Listen Now 4 min 31 sec]

Croton and Yorktown Lacrosse: