John Sexton’s Farewell: Teammates Reflect on the LSM’s Career

By Jerome Taylor | Apr 8, 2024

After six professional seasons, John Sexton announced his retirement from lacrosse. 

“Johnny is one of my all-time favorite people to work with. He was just a pro's pro. He handled his business so well. He was a terrific player, selfless, and just wanted to play the game,” Redwoods General Manager and Head Coach Nat St. Laurent said. “I admired that so much about him—that he just loved playing the game and the team. He was so grateful for his opportunity. He's so genuine, just a tremendous player.”

Sexton spent five seasons with the Redwoods (and one with the Dallas Rattlers) and will be remembered as one of the pivotal defensive pieces for the team’s early era. During his career, the LSM caused 34 turnovers, had 11 points (three 2pt, three 1pt, 2A), and scooped up 89 groundballs.

John Sexton as a Player 

As some of his teammates recounted playing with him, Sexton’s ability to get the ball off the ground stood out well before he became a pro. 

“I feel like the first time I was really impressed was when he was a freshman [at Notre Dame],” Eddy Glazener said. “The way that he would pick up balls isn't traditionally where you run through it and scoop it in front of your stick. Like he could pick it up any which way, and all of a sudden, you'd be like, ‘How did he come up with the ball?’”

Glazener, who was Sexton’s teammate for five years with the Redwoods and two seasons at Notre Dame, said Sexton’s uncanny ability to vacuum balls off the turf using the sides of his head and without relying on his forward momentum was something he’d never seen before.

“I always feel like John's playing with a hockey stick,” Isaiah Davis-Allen added. “It's almost like he just puts his stick on the ground, and the ball is in his stick.”

Davis-Allen didn’t play with Sexton in college and joined the Redwoods in 2021, two years after Sexton was on the team. When he joined the ‘Woods, Sexton’s overall and lacrosse IQ impressed him. 

“When you first come in, you have to feel out the chemistry and figure out how certain people play. And I always thought that John was probably just one of the smartest people I've ever known, and I think he kind of played off of you,” Davis-Allen said. 

“He can read things a lot faster than everyone else. He'll be the first one to tell you he's not the best athlete, but he always seems to be a step in front of the play because of how smart he plays.”

But it wasn’t just Sexton’s ability to pick up groundballs or his IQ that impressed; it was also his ability to cause the opposing player to put the ball on the ground and, subsequently, what he could do with it after he picked it up.

Social media immediately illuminated those qualities shortly after the retirement announcement. The first video to make rounds came from his epic toe drag from the 2019 Redwoods’ playoff run.

The toe drag was honestly something that almost encapsulated our entire [2019] season, which was that we needed every single person to step up and make big plays,” Glazener said about the play. 

“We didn't really have a great year on paper that first 2019 season, to be honest. We snuck into the playoffs and then, all of a sudden, made the championship. It was plays like that where John is one of the younger guys on the team and makes a huge play that kind of shifted the momentum.”

The second viral clip to make rounds was his can-opener check, which epitomized his ability as a takeaway artist.

“I don't think there'll ever be another guy with the handles, the way he played at the faceoff X, and his ability to be a takeaway defender at LSM,” Garrett Epple, another one of Sexton’s teammates at Notre Dame (2015-2017) and with the Redwoods (2019-2023), said. 

Epple also highlighted Sexton’s gift for grabbing groundballs. He even admitted to envying some of Sexton’s other traits, which eventually led to him co-opting some of what made Sexton stand out on the field. 

“I was a little bit jealous of his handle, so in college, I asked him a few times over the years to string me up a traditional stick,” Epple said. “How he played with that stick was nothing short of incredible. It translated to his game and his skill set. Watching him pick up ground balls in a unique way was a nice blend of the traditional stick, but more importantly, his skill in using it.”

“It was a tremendous benefit to him, but you don't see it much anymore. And, I unfortunately didn't have the skills to rock with it full time, but I used it a couple of times, thanks to John.”

Epple also quasi-credits Sexton for his adoption of long sleeves, which he usually dons on game day. He called Sexton the “long-sleeved king” when they were at Notre Dame.

The long-sleeved king’s groundball acumen, detwigging tendencies, transition prowess, and lacrosse IQ are why he was awarded the Schmeisser Award in 2018 and had a prosperous professional career, but that’s only part of the reason his teammates will remember his career fondly. 

John Sexton, the Teammate and Person 

When talking with Sexton’s teammates and coaches after his retirement, “professionalism” was often the first descriptor used for Sexton. 

However, a more nuanced and humorous view of his personality emerges when you discuss his nickname, “Randy.”

“I bet if you quizzed our team and asked everyone why his name was “Randy,” half the people probably have no idea. They just call him that, and they probably think it's his middle name or something,” Glazener said, laughing. 

“I honestly don't know,” Davis-Allen said, confirming Glazener’s point. “Coming in for training camp with the Notre Dame guys, they all just called him that, so I followed suit.”

The nickname stems from Sexton’s time at Notre Dame, which explains why the former Notre Dame players were the first people to call him that. The origin story aligns with the college-aged joking Sexton and his teammates engaged in. 

“I think the nickname's genesis was that he would just go around campus at Notre Dame, and whenever he met people for the first time, he would tell them that he had a different name,” Glazener explained. 

“Then I remember someone approached someone on our team saying, ‘I met one of your teammates, Randy last week.’ And everyone's like, ‘There's no one named Randy on our team.’”

Glazener said it would take the Notre Dame team months to figure out that Sexton was the culprit, and that’s how the nickname started.

“Kind of dumb,” Glazener admitted, laughing. “But I guess that's his personality, just froze up and made up a name.”

Outside of the humor, Sexton’s humanity set him apart in the locker rooms that he’s been in. 

“He is so approachable. He knows everyone so well, probably knows their girlfriend or wife's name and every other detail,” Glazener said. 

According to Glazener, that was part of the reason for the reaction on the sideline after his toe drag-to-goal sequence. 

“He's just one of those guys; he's so easy to want to support and celebrate like he's one of the nicest guys in the locker room,” Glazener said. “When you see him make a play like that… you're not entirely surprised, but you're just so, so happy for him to do it.”

Happy Trails Sexton!

“Over the five years I coached and worked with him, we've developed such a strong relationship. I'm just going to miss him. 

He's just one of those guys that you love seeing every weekend. You love having him in the locker room. You knew what you were going to get from him. He's an absolute competitor, just a beast, and I'm so happy for him to be at peace with his decision and move to the next phase of his life because he's going to do incredible things. But, selfishly, I'm going to miss him like crazy.”

- Nat St. Laurent

“He's had a great career, he's played hard his whole career, and I think he should be proud.

I'm sure it's difficult for him to walk away; it's not an easy decision, but I think he can walk away knowing that he left the game better than he found it and inspired the next generation of long-stick middies.”

- Eddy Glazener

“He's a great teammate, and he's had an incredibly positive impact on my life as a person, more so off the field. Just being there for me as a friend and a teammate through all the years of playing. That's something that's going to stick with me as I grow older and move on with life, but those types of relationships are just invaluable.

I want to let him know how proud I am to call him a teammate and a friend. I really thank him for having an impact on my life. And I'm very thankful to hopefully be friends with him long into the future as well and thankful for the relationship that we've had that transcends the sport of lacrosse.”

- Garrett Epple