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.