For the first ten years of my life, I competed in every sport except one. In fifth grade, one day after I finished baseball practice, I walked a few fields over to attend “Lacrosse Family Night” in my hometown of Mahwah, New Jersey. I knew nothing about lacrosse. Little did I know this sport would dramatically change the course of my life.
Since we oftentimes don’t know what we have until it’s gone, let me start with a reflection of a time when I thought I’d never play lacrosse again…
As I lie on a cold hospital bed, I stare up at the white ceiling with watery eyes. I grab my phone, go to my electronic notebook, and begin to write an apology to my teammates. Tonight, in the Bergen County Tournament, my team will face Ridgewood, the same team we beat in the semifinals the year before, and I will not be there. I put my phone on my chest and readjust myself on the bed. I am in incredible pain. A couple hours before this, a lingering ache in my lower body exploded into unbearable agony. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. A tingling sensation flooded my lower body, from my hips to my feet. Tears poured from my eyes and I thought to myself, “What has happened to me?”
For the next six months, I wore a hard cast from the top of my abdomen to just above my tailbone. I had to sleep on the floor in my bedroom. All I wanted to do was get rid of the physical and emotional pain so I could get back on the field and play lacrosse.
As a freshman in high school, I wasn’t cut from the varsity lacrosse team; quite simply, we didn’t have one. As a sophomore, I played on Mahwah High School’s first varsity lacrosse team against many teams with goalies who wore shin guards. And as a junior, I returned from a shoulder surgery to join our second-year varsity program. To everyone’s amazement, we won the Bergen County Championship over powerhouse teams like Ridgewood and Bergen Catholic. That same year, I was awarded North Jersey’s player of the year as an attackman. As a senior, well you know what happened...
I graduated and went to Deerfield Academy in Western Massachusetts. At that time, prep school lacrosse was much more competitive than high school lacrosse. Nevertheless, I received First-Team All-New England honors as a midfielder. At Deerfield, I played for the legendary coach Chip Davis. He was a one-of-a-kind teacher, coach, mentor, and now friend. He challenged me like I was never challenged before. I loved it!
Next, I attended Yale and played under Coach Andy Shay. Better than any coach in the world, he helps boys become men by encouraging them to understand the difference between being the best for a team rather than the best on the team. A few weeks into “Fall Ball,” I remember a brief conversation I had with Coach Shay in which he expressed his desire for me to fill a void on the team as a short-stick defensive midfielder. For the next four years, I made it my mission to become the top short-stick defensive midfielder in the country. My team won three Ivy League Championships, and I will forever cherish my experience in New Haven, Connecticut.
From Connecticut, I moved to Manhattan. For the next three years on weekends, I traveled around the country to play professional lacrosse.
This weekend, I’m coming home. Our team is ready and eager to show you a form of sports entertainment you have not seen before.
George Washington… Fardale Trinity… Airmont Park Field… Continental Soldiers Park… Egidio Caporale Stadium… Jim Smith Field… Reese Stadium… Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium… These have been my “home” fields throughout my lacrosse career. And now - Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
I couldn’t be more excited to bring the highest level of lacrosse to my home state with the Premier Lacrosse League. First-class stadium. First-class broadcasting network. First-class teams. First-class players. The stage is set! On Sunday, my lacrosse career comes full circle and I will once again be playing in front of family and friends after almost a decade on the road. #WeThePlayers guarantee your first watch will lead to you wanting more!
Here are some fun facts for you to consider:
What’s the fastest sport played on two feet? Lacrosse.
What’s the oldest known sport in North America? Lacrosse.
What’s the fastest growing sport in the United States? Again, lacrosse.
To me, lacrosse is a metaphor. Lacrosse represents an outlet from life’s everyday hustle and bustle, a stage to display creativity and grit, a garden for people all over the world to plant dreams, to water work ethic, and to grow however they’d like. The individuality of lacrosse stems from an understanding of its history. Native Americans created and introduced lacrosse with the objective of including everyone, settling disputes, and finding spiritual purpose. Like animals, players of all different sizes, speeds, and colors are not only able to survive, but also flourish through use of his or her unique strengths. Every individual contains the potential to contribute towards a team’s success – this breeds inclusion, possibility, and thrilling endings!
What if I told you the sport of lacrosse contained physicality similar to football, spacing and scoring similar to basketball and soccer, hand-eye coordination equal to baseball, and an incredibly fast pace equivalent to hockey? What if I told you professional lacrosse has been hidden from your awareness because it has not been televised until now? What if I told you my team, Chaos Lacrosse Club, and I will be airing nationally on NBC at 2 pm EST on Sunday, June 9th?
As you remember, the title of this article is “You May Never Play Lacrosse, But Your Grandchildren Will.” What I mean by this is when you were growing up, lacrosse was only played in selected schools in certain parts of the country. That’s all changed! Lacrosse is by far the fastest growing sport in the country. It’s currently being played by little kids, teenagers, college athletes, women, and men like me. In 20 years, it has been projected that lacrosse might be the most popular sport in the country.
Start following the PLL on NBC or come to our games in person so you can witness first-hand the emergence of this exciting sport.
This weekend’s schedule at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey:
Saturday, June 8th at 1 pm EST – Chrome LC vs. Whipsnakes LC on NBC Sports Gold
Saturday, June 8th at 4 pm EST – Archers LC vs. Redwoods LC on NBC Sports Network
Sunday, June 9th at 2 pm EST – Atlas LC vs. Chaos LC on NBC