Saturday, December 26, 2015

Schools, Sports and Academic Rigor

Coaches new to a school, be sensitive to the academic demands on your student athletes.  I suggest coaches speak to the seniors on their team and get their assessment of how much time they can expect students to be able to dedicate to activities such as practices, weight training and conditioning, and watching films.  Some schools have larger reading and writing expectations then others. Some schools give more group work then others which requires meeting with one's team members in that group outside of class and often during typical times in which athletic teams hold practice. Be open to letting your student athletes come to practice late or leave practice early so they can meet with their groups and/or with instructors during office hours. Let me close with suggesting that you make the podcast I published on strategies for getting good grades from a college professor's perspective. Every instrucor is different but there are some principles that are parallel the matter what class your taking or US school.  

Strategies For Getting Great Grades: Listen Now [21min 13sec]

Coaching Series:

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Business of Lacrosse

1978, Freshmen Croton Harmon High Game at Croton Point Park. Bill Laemel (Left and in the back ground on the side line; click to enlarge image), Me, Fred Opie (center), and Hank VanAsselt (right). The thought of Hank lose on the field back then with a long stick in his hands is a scary movie. Ed McMan was our freshmen coach. He was Nick Padula’s side kick and a great guy to play for.

In late 1970s Westchester County, there were no Herman's World of Sporting Goods (went defunct in 1993) Model’s, Sport’s Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or any other sporting goods stores selling lacrosse equipment. In fact it wasn’t until my junior year in high school 1979-80, that Laura Lee Sport’s in Ossining (then located in Arcadian Shopping Center) and the Lacrosse Barn in Yorktown that I go to a retail store to purchase a lacrosse stick and all the related paraphernalia. Now you see sport stores, department stores, and others retailers carrying sticks (and equipment often in abundance).You even see lacrosse equipment commercials on television (not to mention lacrosse sticks showing up on Law and Order and in GQ magazine). In addition, you can buy any kind of lacrosse stick you want on the internet—custom made and strung—and get it shipped to your door step in 2 to 3 days. Folks we’ve come a long way since 1976.

Interview with Ousmane Green, Yorktown's Lacrosse Tradition

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Student Teaching and Coaching

Photo of me in the spring of 1986 as an assistant varsity lacrosse coach at my high school, Croton Harmon warming up the goalies at Croton Harmon. 

I've been an avid goal setter since I was in middle school. I recall in my senior year at Syracuse University (SU) in 1985, I set my sites on becoming a public school teacher and lacrosse coach in a district where I could have an impact. I was an education major at SU and needed to complete a year of student teaching which I did in my public school district, Croton Harmon district in the fall of 1985. I received mentoring as a student teacher in grades k-12 and I coached each season during my year in Croton. My education courses at SU, coaching and teaching that year in Croton, and three years of full time public school teaching helped me a great deal when I later became a college professor. Unfortunately the average prof, particularly the stars, have had little to no experience teaching before taking their first job nor courses on class management and basic pedagogy. 

The Croton Diner and Croton Point:

Croton Point Park History:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Custom Sticks and Cuse Lacrosse Culture

That's Tim Nelson's 1983 season custom head with a classic Yorktown, most likely little brother Tom strung, Brine Superlight II with wide strong  traditional pocket.
Organized lacrosse head dying sessions using a white plastic head, Rit fabric dye, and downing dozens of hot Buffalo chicken wings in the process represented a part of lacrosse experience in the 1980s. There was definitely an unspoken competition over both who could eat the most wings and who could come up with the most aesthetic multi-colored design with your name, number, and somehow fit it all fit on a small surface. A Syracuse 80% of the team loved traditional pockets. The difference was over the size of the holes. Yorktown guys like big holes maybe 5 and West Genee players always used small holes say 8 or more. The island guys at SU, and we didn’t have a lot in those days, were right in the middle. Upstate players used Brine superlight II; about four of us however used STX. 

I grew up on Army lacrosse and coach Dick Edell. As an attackman in high school I patterned a lot of my game and gear after All American attackmen Frank Giordano (Port Washington, Army), Greg Tarbell (LaFayette, Cobleskill, Syracuse) and Mike O’Neill (Massapequa, Hopkins) In fact I wore # 7 after seeing both Tarbell and O’Neill play at West Point. I purchased a STX Barney with a traditional pocket and the same funky gold shaft that O’Neill used in game I saw at the point. I often wondered how many young players emulated my gear and game as they watched me play.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Good Mentor Can Make All the Difference

 Glatfelter Hall, Gettysburg College
Everyone needs a good mentor.  Mike McTighe served as an important mentor in my life who helped me learn the academic ropes. Mike did more than talk he demonstrated his confidence in my intellectual ability by asking me to co-teach my first college course with him—a comparative religious history course on Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In addition he offered to write letters of support for my application to Ph.D. programs. Shortly after the course started, Mike told me that doctors had diagnosed him with cancer. He asked me to continue teaching the course alone, and assured me that I could handle the class. I was 28 years old at the time and that semester, I served as an interim dean, adjunct professor, and defensive coordinator for the Gettysburg Men’s Lacrosse team. I was reading like crazy to stay ahead of my students plus over preparing because of my internal fear that someone would find out that I was a fake, a guy who struggled to spell basic words and spent twice as much time reading the same material as my students. And as for the lacrosse, as was the case at Croton Harmon, Herkimer, and Syracuse, Gettysburg lacrosse during my tenure was good but nothing like the teams that have made the final four over the last ten years. More on the players I coached during my time there from 1989 to 1992

Lessons from My Graduate School Experience:

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My First Semester at Syracuse University

Kevin Sheehan wearing number 65 as high school all star. He must be a sophomore in this photo which also includes a number of standout players such as Brad Kotz 30 and Randy Powers to players to the right of Kotz. 
I spent my first year at Syracuse adjusting to the school, all you could eat food and no dishes in the cafeterias, and, my new teammates. We had a very talented Syracuse team that year. On defense we had big Kevin Sheehan (Baldwinsville, NY) who the team called Sheedog or just dog for short. I called him Chewie because he was so big and thick and had long hair like the star wars character Chewbaka. Kevin’s physical play, ability to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick, ground ball ability, and an offensive threat on occasion made him a 3 x All American. Jeff Desko (West Genesee, Camillus, NY is the youngest Desko in the program next to brother John a 79 SU All American and assistant coach during my years, and Dave a 2 x All American midfielder 83, 84) Baby D ran like a gazelle and played tremendous position defense on shifty attackman like Mac Ford (Carolina,Mt Washington,USA) and Tom Carmean (Umass, Boston Blazers, NY Saints). Jeff was a 3 x All-American. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Canadian Connection

Paul and Gary Gait
# 15 Stan Cockerton, far right (and unknown individuals) 

A key to SU's lacrosse success over the years has been the coaching staff's ability to find diamonds in the rough in the most usual places. Certainly the story of how the Hall Fame Gait brothers arrived on campus is an excellent case in point. As the story goes, Coach Simmons received a tip from either a personal friend or Syracuse alum about the Gait brothers. They came from Western Canada which at the time did not have any players of note who had played at any top program or put up the kind of numbers that they did in their career at Syracuse. The Canadians of note that I knew of before the Gaits has been Stan Cockerton at NC State and Dave Huntley at Hopkins in the late 1970s (I would later learn about and play against Canadian Box Hall of Famer and national team player Kevin Alexander). U. S. coaches had not yet become convinced that box players could make the transition to the field game so Canadians went larger overlooked until the Gaits with the exception of Cockerton. How recruiting is done today at the Division I level is quite short sighted in my view because it is gambling on young sophomore and juniors in high school and overlooking seniors, post grads at prep schools, and junior college kid like me. Today Syracuse is one of the few top ranked programs that still makes room on its roster for non-traditional recruits like the Gaits, Native Americans, and junior college players like me. 

Canadian Lacrosse Legend Kevin Alexander:

The Gait’s Canadian Box Lacrosse Roots:

How Many Goals Did the Gaits Score Right-Handed?: [Watch 8 min 24 sec]

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recruiting, Part 1 of 2

Attackman Fred Opie during a home game at Croton Point field my Senior Year 1981

As part of my ongoing recruiting series I want to talk about the experience I had helping a fantastic sleeper complete a grueling recruiting process for him and his family. As sophomore, seniors at his high school received the lion share of playing time thus he went unnoticed until this past season and a great showing this summer. But by June most of the top scholarship and Ivy League lacrosse programs had verbal commitments for his class and had nothing to offer. So the scramble to find a program who wanted to court him started and I got involved the first week in July. The experience proved stressful for the player and parents largely because going through it the first time there are so many blind spots and unexpected turns and twist. One ends up turning in all different directions talking to coaches and visiting schools on speed dial and having one’s hopes raised and dashed in a 24 hour period. I went to high school with this recruits mom. My high school friend said that at times “I felt like we were all over the place talking to coaches, looking at schools [and] jumping from D1 to D3.”She concluded, “At the end of the day, I think a lot of it comes down to luck.  One coach sees you do one good thing on one good day.” More tomorrow on learning from a recruiting experience.

Recruiting Series:

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Recruiting and High School Pedigree

Me left, covering Yorktown's Rob Hoynes in my senior year of High School. Hoynes would go on to have a great playing career at Army.

My entrance into the Syracuse University (SU) lacrosse community on campus in 1983 happened awkwardly in large part because of my own insecurity as a player void of any noted tradition. The incoming class of 1983 came in with allot of players with loftier credentials then mine. We became acquainted during shoot arounds on the old beat of turf field located next to Manley Field House on south campus peppering each other with questions about our high school programs. My school, Croton Harmon High School in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, only Yorktown players knew about being from the same league. At the time, Croton had only produced Maryland’s Clay Johnson; so what I learned then and understand the better now, is that like many other spaces, the lacrosse world has a rigid hierarchy. For a new unproven recruit, one’s high school opened or closed doors. That has changed with the emergence of club teams and the various All this and that teams. So here I was in 1983 feeling like a marginalized lacrosse player with no creditability until I could prove myself on the field. I was a stepchild and outsider among a group of players from high schools with legendary histories. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

College Recruiting Advice

1984 Syracuse Team Photo  
1982 Herkimer Team Photo

Below is my response to an e-mail I recently received from a high school player. Like many, he's struggling with trying to get the attention of a Division I college coach in hopes of continuing his playing career after graduating from high school. I share this in hope of helping other student athletes in a similar situation. I changed names to keep people's identities anonymous.

Dear Eric:

Glad you found my YouTube video on college recruiting helpful. My lacrosse blog contains more recruiting suggestions and topics that may serve you well.  You need a credible advocate to lobby for you, someone who know your game, work ethic, and character. You should also consider a Post Grad (PG) year at a prep school that's still looking to fill the few PG slots left and has good lacrosse. Try looking up Deerfield Academy, The Salisbury School, or the Hill School and their opponents. These schools will have great lacrosse and a PG year will give you another year to get seen and maybe recruited. Some prep schools provide financial aid. Perhaps the lax and hoop coaches would be interested in you because of your size—work all angles my friend. It's hard to tell what's a dream vs. what's not realistic, but there is a place and level or everyone play and get a good college education. In my case, I started at Herkimer community college and thereafter I transferred to Syracuse University to continue my studies and lacrosse career. The strategy allowed me to earn a degree worth about $40, 000 at the time for a fraction of that cost. 

Best wishes,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thinking About Grad School?

Me shooting on goal in USA exhibition game against the Syracuse All Stars up in Liverpool, NY out side of the city of Syracuse. That's Rodney Dumpson (Portwashington & SU) chasing me down.

When I decided to return to grad school in 1989, I tapped into my lacrosse network. I knew that graduate assistant positions (GAs) existed that would pay for tuition provide a living stipend in exchange for work. I let be known that was looking for GA position where I could coach. I soon received an offer from Head Coach B.J Ohara (West Genesee, Hobart) at Dartmouth College in Hanover, Vermont. I just earned a spot on the 90 National Team and thought Dartmouth was at the time just too isolated from opportunities to play club ball and have a social life. Chuck Winters, the former head coach at Cortland State when I played at SU, had just started G-burg as the school’s new athletic director that summer. He and coach Hank Janzyck (hereafter Coach J) created an attractive GA offer and I took it. At the time coach J was building the G-burg lacrosse program. I took the job because I liked Coach J and the location of the school in south central Pennsylvania allowed me to play for Maryland Lacrosse Club in nearby Baltimore.  I rented a mother in laws apartment from coach who I would live with from 1989 to 1992. I really had a great gig with access to the weight room and the campus library and I made the most out of it. I could return to grad school because I was single and accept for a couple of students loans and small car loan, financially independent. That's key if you want to return to school. I was also a big fish in a small pond as new US National Team player. That celebrity status and a good reputation off the field helped me negotiate a good GA position that worked for me.

Lessons from My Graduate School Experience:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Brad Kotz

Brad Kotz and Tim Nelson, a dynamic duo from the class of 1985
You know your good when you have a Wiki page! Brad Kotz aka “Kotzy” has one.  Brad is a West Genesse product who would go on to be a 4 x All-American midfielder at Syracuse, the 1983 college player of the year, and two time National team player in 86 and 90. I roomed with Brad my first semester at SU in the fall of 1983.  We also played together on Maryland Lacrosse Club, and the 1990 US National team.  He had great speed and strength (The guy worked hard in the weight room), and he almost never caused turnovers. Brad had tremendous eye hand coordination; he would joggle a ball on the top of the head of his Brine superlight II; a trick akin to what Tiger Woods does with a golf ball and an iron (Brad, we need you to video tape that for my blog and YouTube channel!). For me, Brad's shooting accuracy represented his greatest attribute. For example, I saw him shoot an amazing 4 for 6 in a World Cup game in Australia when he played virtually on one leg to do a knee injury.  Kotzy played with a pocket no deeper than a women's stick which allowed for his quick release. Players today should learn from him and get rid of all those grapefruit holders! The guy consistently shot hip high opposite the goal’s stick which is the toughest shot in the game to stop. Perhaps most heart warming to me was witnessing Brad's anger and disappointment the year Todd Curry was inducted, that Tim Nelson had not been inducted yet.  

Brad Kotz:

Tiger Woods Golf Ball Dribbling Commercial:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back to School and Lacrosse

Herkimer General Fred Opie Covering Hobart's Rick Vacion in 1983
I played junior college lacrosse at Herkimer County Community College before earning admissions and a scholarship to Syracuse University (SU). In the process I gained a great education at an afforable price with in state tutition as a community college (but that's another story i will turn to later). The summer before the start of my first semester at Syracuse University I set my mind on earning a position as starting defensemen during fall ball. I somehow got in my head that a division 1 defensemen had to bigger and stronger than I was at the time—6’ 1’’180 pounds. That summer I ate like a champ and lifted like a chump and ballooned to 205 pounds! Please don't use the strategy I employed. Today I would be small by division one standards where the average defensemen are taller than me and over two hundred pounds; today players are also faster and stronger than during my era. My advice is speed and great footwork and stick skills can never be underrated. On offense size is not as critical as speed and stick skills. Few be understand that NFL Hall of Famer Deon Sanders was not big, but lightening fast!

Best Checks Videos:

Monday, August 3, 2015

One Big Reason Why Syracuse Recruited Me

Tim Nelson against Army at West Point, 1985 
Perhaps the person that the Lord used the most to turn the attention of the Syracuse Lacrosse coaching staff was the big 6' 2" 200 pound attackman Tim Nelson (Yorktown High School). Our high schools played against each other back in Westchester in Section 1. We also played together on a Manhasset summer league team in the old Freeport Summer League after my first year in college. As a result of our shared history, Tim (Nellie) knew my game and knew it well. When I went to Herkimer as a virtual unknown player, he went as a highly recruited two-time high school All American who had played in two New York State title games to NC State. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the Wolfpack had a great lacrosse program that included Tim’s older brother Scott. At the end of his first year, State dropped their program and Syracuse offered him a scholarship. In his first season at Syracuse, SU won its first national championship in 1983, Nellie earned first team All American honors and he won the Turnbull Award as the best attackman in the country that year. During that championship season, I visited SU and ran into Nellie. He told me about the teams need for defensemen and then lobbied the coaching staff to recruit me based on what he knew of me as a high school player and my summer league performance. That’s the story of how I became a Syracuse Lacrosse recruit when most other programs and coaches showed no interest. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Recruiting and Lacrosse Networking

Hopkins Hall of famer John Detomasso covering SU Hall famer Tim Nelson in the 1983 Championship game  
You never know who is watching you so give your best effort during practice, at camps, summer league games, and tournaments. Coaches use their networks of friends, players, and alum to evaluate a player. As in my own case, many players that have come through Syracuse over the years were spotted obscure venues and recruited in non-traditional way by members of the Syracuse network that like most universities is extensive. Coaches generally trust the recommendation of alum because they have come through the system and know what it will take to play at a Syracuse. There is a place in college for most people play including some great Club teams.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dedication or Stupidity?

I remember the time I returned from a Spanish language immersion program in Mexico for an amatuer lacrosse game.  Now that was dedication or stupidity! I returned back to states to play in the 1992 club championship for Maryland Lacrosse Club (MLC) against the New York Athletic Club (New York AC). MLC player manager assured me that the club would cover my travel cost. I later learned that he made this promise in post semi-final celebration as our team upset a very good Mount Washington Lacrosse Club to make it into the finals. Mount Washington’s club that year included Butch Marino, Toddy Curry, now John Hopkins Head Coach Dave Pietralmala, Ronny Claussen, Mac Ford, and other all club players at the top of their game back then. Our team included Larry Quinn in goal, The Kelley Brothers—Frank, David, and Brian Kelley, Glen Norris, Joe Gold, Jeff Greenburg (who came out of a long retirement to play that year) Aaron Jones, Ricky Sowell, and again allot of other very talented players that I don’t remember. 

Related Link:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Five Principles I've Learned From Athletic Competition

Chris Burt 33, Fred Opie 34, Mike O'Donnell 31, Syracuse Hopkins 1985 Title Game at Brown University
Visualize the desired outcome you want and situations you need to avoid like the plaque. This is something professional pilots do on a regular basis in flight simulators. I do this as a writer and teacher but I started back when I played.  Visualize executing the prepared game plan, and adapting it to the circumstances. Second, give your best efforts so that win, lose, or draw you would have nothing to regret. I played in two national championships and lost both but because I gave my best effort I've never looked back. The same was true when I won and loss club championships and when I won a world championship as a member of the 1990 U. S. National Team. My college coach Syracuse University, Hall of Famer Roy Simmons Jr. had a mantra that is so important: head, heart, and hustle.  Coach would say the difference between winning and losing often is who would hustle the most and get the most ground balls. My own mantras is ground balls wins games and do all the little things right because they bring about big results! Finally, never forget that someone's always watching. What kind of influence are you having on those around you? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why Lacrosse Has Not Taken off in Black and Latino Communities

Courtesy of the Hamption Lacrosse Facebook Page 

by José Olivero

In the article on Hampton University fielding a Division 1 (Div 1) program next year (see the link below), there are a lot of key points and bits of information buried within.  I agree on all the contributing factors stagnating the growth of minorities in lacrosse, especially the cost.  But, I would add another important reason why lacrosse has not taken off in the Black and Latino communities; there is no viable professional league.  Where's the magnet?  A viable professional league is one where a player can make an excellent living and live the life of luxury.  Comparable to lacrosse, basketball, football, baseball provide that for professional athletes. For most, lacrosse is played as a hobby and for love of the game than as a profession.  Professional sports have always been looked as the ticket out of poverty and instant socio-economic improvement. As a sport we're not there yet.  Will we make it, I hope so Regardless, it is good to see Hampton joining the Div 1 ranks and I wish them luck. 

José Olivero
Former All American Goalie, West Point

Will Hampton University Improve Lacrosse’s Diversity Problem?:

Fred Opie on José Olivero’s: [Watch Now 3 min 29 sec]

Monday, June 22, 2015

My Summer with Steve

The Lacrosse Field at Lakeland Middle School 
The summer before I entered 9th or 10th grade Steve Mabus’ family moved on my street.  At the time Steve played college lacrosse at Kutz Town State in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember how it started, but before I knew it, Steve and I started playing catch, shooting on goal, and playing one on one in his yard. Steve played in a college summer league at the Lakeland middle school field and started taking me along his game. I remember watching Scott Finlay (Yorktown, West Point), Scott Nelson (Yorktown, North Carolina State) and Bill Simunek (Walter Panas, St. Lawrence), Greg Rivers (Yorktown, Delaware) and Clay Johnson (Croton, Maryland) play. These guys were terrific athletes, with great sticks, and lacrosse intellect. Watching them provided a visual image of how the game should be played. Graduate school advisors once told me that I should apply to the best possible Ph.D. programs. She explained, “You will rise to the occasion in an atmosphere of very bright people and become a much more polished scholar.” The same is true with the summer lacrosse you watch and the leagues you play in.

Friday, June 19, 2015

It All Started with a Summer Rec Program

That me “the brown person” as my daughter would say 
My lacrosse playing days started in the summer in the mid-1970s.  Our physical education teacher, Don Daubney, a Springfield College grad, taught a lacrosse (soft stick and soft ball) unit every spring to his eighth grade classes. He followed that up with a summer rec program that lasted about three or four weeks. We learned the basics and once we had them down, the summer program culminated with a game against the Lakeland/Walter Panas rec program. Like my first Division one game at Syracuse against the North Carolina Tar Heels, I was both scared and thrilled at the same time. We faced off on Lakeland middle school field across from the old Westchester Mall on route 6. That summer league space would continue to have an important impact on my lacrosse career and that of many others. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Freeport Summer League

The U.S. National Team Helmet, The Ultimate Status Symbol In Men's Lacrosse  (Courtesy of Lacrosse Magazine) 
In todays segment in our series on summer leagues we go to Freeport, Long Island. I remember the first time I played in the old Freeport Summer League back in 1982. The site of an ACC team or National team helmet put the fear of God in the mind of an opposing teams without such lofty head gear. Coming from Westchester and Herkimer seeing National Team player Vinnie Sombrotto in his helmet on the team we had to play in my first Freeport game both thrilled and terrified me. Manhasset’s Ray Crawford grew up with alum from his high school who played at elite college programs, “it didn’t intimidate me at all. For me it was like another game against kids from rival lacrosse schools like Port Washington or Garden City [high schools].” Vinnie Sombrotto and I later became teammates on championship teams on Long Island Hofstra Lacrosse Club 1987-89, the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, and the 1990 U. S. National Team. After games I often went with the Manhasset boys to their town for some outrageously good sandwiches and muffins at the famed Manhasset Deli. I can still taste and smell one of their hot corn muffins wrapped in that white deli paper. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

That Lacrosse Field Was Illegal

Ric Beardsley #47 recalls "That field"  where here played summer league in the Hudson Valley. As you will see below, 
Here another story in our summer league series written by Syracuse All American Defensemen Ric Beardsley.

That field was narrow and I think illegal to be honest because it was so narrow. The field served as a drainage field for the school grounds behind it and as a result it had manhole covers on it. I used to try and run opposing attackmen on to those man hole covers in order to try and make then fall. I am sure that field could tell so many stories if it could talk because of all the great players that played on it. It was a horrible field but it was like home for me for all those years. I remember playing an alumni game on that field and guarding Jim Egan the year he started @ SU and I de-sticked him like 5 times and I was only a high school sophomore. . . he was so pissed! But at the end of the game he was determined to have me play for SU and look what happened. Fans would back their cars up to the field in the parking lot that overlooked the field and sit on their tailgates to watch games. In high school I can remember my father sitting and yelling encouraging things to me during my games . . . That field is also the field where I learned to play the game @ all the levels that got me to SU and made me the player I became. Summer league then was full of sick players. College guys would bring their teammates from all of the top programs as ringers so they had a shot @ winning the summer league championship. That field will never ever be forgotten by me. The worst field I ever played on but the best field to have played on.

Summer League Lacrosse Stories

Story Submissions: We welcome story ideas and contributions. 

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Goalie Win Championships

Travis Solomon in action in the 1983 championship SU vs Hopkins
Larry Quinn in action in the 1985 championship game SU vs Hopkins
 A hot goalie is key to winning a big game. One of the greatest goalie stories is Syracuse's (SU) Solomon who replaced starter Tom Nims who suffered a season ending separated shoulder early in the season in a game against Maryland in 1983. Travis played hot the rest of that season in root to SU's first national championship. He;s best describe as stopper with a great outlet space that helped cuse fast break its way into the finals. Hopkins won national championships in 1984 and 1985 with All American and later Hall Fame Larry Quinn in goal. I later played with Larry in championships with Long Island Lacrosse Club, Maryland Lacrosse Club, and the 1990 U. S. National Team. Larry made playing defense easy and also had a great outlet pass. His nickname was the Door and he shut the door on alot of great shooters. As a youth coach I recommend putting your best athlete, stick handler, and leader in the goalie position. He or she is your teams quarterback and they thus need to be both a great player and a great communicator.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

“Stay On His Gloves!"

Fred Opie # 34 in a 1985 game in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse against North Carolina. 
I gave up lacrosse following my senior year at Syracuse and second consecutive year of losing to John Hopkins in the National Championship game.  My return to lacrosse started at the once premier summer tournament in Glastonbury Connecticut. Jamesville Dewitt alum (a school in the Suburbs of Syracuse ) who played at Cornell invited me to play with a Cornell team that had a spattering of SU players. I went back to the basics remember Coach John Desko's advice to me. I had asked him my first year at SU what I could do to improve my game, and he responded, “Stay on his gloves! [translation, stop throwing so many take away checks and square up!]." That’s a problem I see among too many even top division 1 players—they play to much defense with their stick and not enough with their feet—shuffle, drop step, catch up, and then we can talk about checks! 

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

You Will Be Better Off If You Finish

Buzz (Christ Burt, Lawrenceville Prep), Me, and OD (Mike O’Donnell, Yorktown) “trying” to cover Hopkins middies and attackman during our loss to John Hopkins in the 1985 NCAA Championship game at Brown University
After a crushing lost to Hopkins for the second year in a row in the 1985 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse finals, I stopped playing feeling burnt out and feeling like the sport had taken on too much importance in my life. Perhaps thats why some players never complete their degrees requirements; lacrosse was more important than their course work. They played four years of ball and now they are ready to move on. That happens all over the country in many sports. In my case, in May of 1985 I was nine credits short of graduating. We returned Syracuse from the championship game in Rhode Island on a long bus ride. I backed my car up on campus and returned to Westchester to take an anatomy and physiology course at Westchester Community College in summer.  Next I then registrared for a student teaching course at Pace University in White Plains; that’s all I needed to do to graduate. I was the first one in my family to earn a college degree. What a difference nine credits has made on my career opportunities. Complete your degree requirements you will be better off in the long term.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Youth Lacrosse Coaching Strategies

Me and other volunteer coaches at halftime Croton-on-Hudson, New York  Spring 2010
Related links below

Coaching Series:
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