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:

1 comment:

  1. Syd the 'squid' is my team captain today and I've never played with someone with so much 'respect' for the game. He knows the game, he knows his player, and he knows everyone's aptitude and skill level. He's like a conductor playing in a symphony and always in control. After 13 years of playing Lacrosse, he's teaching me skills that I wish I was taught my first year.
    I've played for a team in the Pacific Northwest for many years struggling to not be in last place. He joins our team after the top ranked team in our division declines to let him play with them. I've never asked him about this but I swear he made it is mission to turn our team around to challenge that same team than didn't let him join. Last year, (Syd's second on the team), we played that same team that wouldn’t let him play on their team in the semi-finals and lost by 1 point in the last second. This year he has stepped up practice schedule and recruited new members to make sure we're ready for the rematch.
    People like this are rare and leaders are rarer. I find it an honor to play and be taught be such an athlete.