Thursday, January 24, 2013

Navy's Syd Abernethy Part 4

In high school I indentified with attackman like Mike O’Neil and, after a 1981 Army Navy NCAA lacrosse playoff game, Syd Abernethy. I also idolized Army’s great defensemen Bob Henry who covered Syd that game; Abernethy scored four goals on Henry to advance the midshipmen to semi-finals. Henry would go on to earn first team All-American that year and defensemen of the year honors; Abernethy earned first team All American honors too becoming the second African American to do so at the division 1 level since Jim Brown in 1957. Seeing Syd play that day made a big impression on me; it said to me that this was my game too as an African American. “In those days, lacrosse was still an exotic game and I saw very few blacks playing or black youth in the stands or after games asking for my autograph,” recalls Abernethy. I clearly remember that game in May of 1981 and the impact of seeing Syd play off the hook that day did a tremendous amount for my psyche as young black kid playing a white dominated sport. Navy would go on to lose to a tough Carolina team in Carolina in the semi-finals.

Navy Head Coach Rick Sowell on How to “Really Play Part 2:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hempstead Lacrosse Heritage

Left to right, Hempstead alum Mike Bigby who played at Princeton, Hempstead High Coach Hank Lunde and Hempstead alum Dean Rollins who played at Brown University

Speaking of a post I ran on Hempstead Lacrosse, Mark Kelley, wrote, like teammate of Aaron Jones “I too was introduced to the sport of lacrosse at Hempstead.  The program was was “a melting pot of cultures” and coach Alan Hodish introduced us to "lacrosse gamesmanship" and his leadership produced many quality athletes and individuals. As the photo above shows, Hempstead has a long history of producing quality lacrosse players that date back to the 1960s and Hempstead High Coach Hank Lunde.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Staying in Game Shape in Lacrosse

In 1992 I was down in Guadalajara, Mexico getting ready for a MLC vs NYAC club lacrosse championship game at Hofstra University on Long Island. I did speed work, agility drills, and lifted weights while working at Gettysburg College from 1989 until my departure in the June of 1992 for Mexico. This kept me in very good playing shape. When I went to Mexico for the immersion program I had no lacrosse equipment but I knew I had a championship game back in the states in a week. So how did I stay in shape? First I found a gym where I could both ride a life cycle and lift weights not far from where I lived in Colonia Guadalupana. I don’t play anymore, but I still try and stay at hotels with gyms so I can work out. Second I ran most evening for 30 minutes or more and it was interesting to see the looks of the people in the different neighborhoods in Guadalajara that ran through. They were shocked to see me because of my height, brown skin, shaved head, and the simple fact that I was running between 9:00 and 11:00 pm at night. I can’t say I ever saw anybody else running at that hour. Plus when I first started going to Guadalajara in 92, you hardly ever saw black folks. I remember I would run past the a corner of the transit authority office and Gigante Supermarket in Guadalajara where prostitutes would try to get clients with scanty clothing and come ons; some were aggressive in trying to gain my attention as I jogged passed them. When I told my host mother about the prostitutes on the corner in question, she laughed and told me that they were male prostitutes dressed as women; I had no clue and was shocked at the disclosure. Road and stick work are so important in lacrosse but I was not concerned about losing my stick skills because I had spent so much time doing wall ball drills over the years that my muscle memory had me functioning at the subconscious level. In kind of like driving, after a while it becomes automatic. Even though I have not played since 1993 my stick skills are still relatively sharp as I play catch with children. Here is a tip Brian Kelley, the head coach at Calvert Hall High School in Baltimore, shared with me. If you want your children to develop both hands, set a policy that you will only have catch with them if they use their off hand. I tried it with my children and the improvement in their off hand is amazing.