The Player’s Lounge: Adam Ghitelman

By Adam Ghitelman

The gradual escalation to the moment of playing in the first Premier Lacrosse League game always seemed right in front of us. The process has been engaging, collaborative: a feeling that as a player, there is a intrinsic dedication to the formation of our new league, and a new commitment to the players and the fans that we’ve only dreamt of.

As the week progressed, I simply focused on keeping a normal ritual of routines that have served me over time as a professional goalie. In the process of preparation, there were exciting factors in this upcoming game that had me feeling like this would be a special one. Looking back now, I cannot believe playing against my former Virginia coaches Dom Starsia and Coach Walker, Syracuse and Duke rivals like John Galloway and Ned Crotty, would have brought such a deep clarity to the moment for me. It just felt like it was the right way for things to play out. I was thrilled to have the chance to start the game, and excited to play with our Archers group. Our team has come together in a short period time, but we are connected by prior chemistry: built on long-standing friendships, playing experiences, and for the University of Utah’s three assistant coaches being on the same team. It is a pinnacle moment for our Utah program, as the three of us get to step on the stage together and represent our University, and our new Division 1 Lacrosse program.

With so much excitement surrounding the weekend, my greatest focus was to maintain consistent preparation in the week ahead of the game. I trained, I stretched, saw shots, and watched film just as I would like to for every week leading up to a lacrosse game. This week I was lucky enough from Utah to travel back to my hometown of Cold Spring Harbor, New York to see my family, friends, and do some recruiting while on Long Island. I felt a great deal of comfort in being able to be home, spend time with my mother, father, and brother. I met up with Tom Schreiber and Joe LoCascio, two local Long Island products, and got field work done. Internally, it felt good to be heading into the game having ‘checked all the boxes.’

After a short flight from New York to Boston, which I was grateful to limit travel time and time zone change, we descended into the Boston area. Gillette Stadium and Boston have a unique place in my life. I have competed in Final Fours, played in multiple professional games, and have attended New England Patriots games while living in Boston during my tenure coaching lacrosse at Harvard University. The stadium felt familiar, but I could not contain my excitement on the evening prior’s practice. It is special to step foot inside Gillette, to look around and appreciate the incredible athletic feats that the Patriots have accomplished. The stands are high, and it is a bigger venue than most that we play in, so as a goalie it is critical to adjust to the sightlines, and focus on tracking the ball without letting the periphery blur your attention to the ball.

I walked on the field that night and across the way saw my former coaches: Dom Starsia and John Walker. I could hear the tenor in Coach Starsia’s voice that would motivate and bring me such joy on the lacrosse field at the University of Virginia. In that moment, I worked to maintain focus on the task at hand, but was glad to see him on the field barking and engaging with his players. These two were so important in transforming my life while at the University of Virginia. Now they stood across the line working to do the same with another group of players. And I felt good about that. I envy the Chrome LC, because I understand how lucky they are to be working with Coach Starsia, Coach John Walker, and Coach Deegan.

The pre-game experience was everything you could dream of as a professional: to hear the fans, the speakers, the echo in the stadium. You could sense that game time was approaching. As players, we all have our unique routines. Once we land in the locker room, players go about their rituals, and I continue to sharpen my focus as we near the first whistle. For me, I like to be out on the field, moving around, playing the game I love… truthfully, as a goalie, I try to limit the amount of time I sit around and think. I love to be active, engaged, and enjoying the atmosphere. It helps me minimize thinking about the future, and keeps me focused on the present moment.

Fast forward to game time. The only hurdle left to cross was that this was the first game, and there had to be a first goal. Thankfully, the first goal took care of itself quickly on the first faceoff by Stephen Kelly, and after that… it was just game on, business as usual.

Once the whistle blows, most competitors get into a performance state that cannot be shaken by the environment. It was an incredible game between us and Chrome, one that went back and forth with multiple momentum swings. The game of lacrosse is one of momentum changes, and we were able to maintain our focus, execute on both offense and defense at the end of the game and in the end, Will Manny scored an incredible Steph Curry step-back that won the game for our Archers Lacrosse Club. I was proud to win the game, and experience such a positive first moment for our team.

This group continues to amaze me with it’s natural chemistry. It has been one of the finer culture development processes I have witnessed throughout my career in sports. While we are still early in the season, and thrilled to win the game, one can feel that there is a great sense of optimism surrounding this group.

It was truly special to celebrate the win with the fans, our best friends, and my family that came to witness history. The engagement of the crowd, the excitement built by the game’s theatrics, and the understanding that this was the first game of the PLL all merged together and provided me with one of the greatest lacrosse experiences of my career. I sit here in awe that this is the first weekend of the season, and the thrill ride has just begun. I am excited for what the rest of the season has to hold, and begin to set my mind on our next opponent, the Redwoods Lacrosse Club.

Week 1 of a new era has come to a close, and next week brings the PLL to New York, a cornerstone of the lacrosse community. I feel the energy already building for what will be another amazing weekend of lacrosse for the Premier Lacrosse League.

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