Transcending teammates: How John Galloway and Joel White’s brotherhood will last past lacrosse
By Lauren Merola | Aug 12, 2021
Galloway is always out first, and White last.
“It’s kind of our personalities,” Galloway said.
Galloway is Chrome’s hyper-focused, vocal leader in cage and White is the fun-loving, naturally athletic leader by example, Soudan said.
“Jordan [MacIntosh] and I are always the first guys out and then we know we’re going to have to sit there and wait five minutes for Joel and Mike [Manley] to come out,” Galloway said. “It’s been that way since we were playing at Rochester. Coordinators would yell at us to get on the field, but until 11 and 5 come out, we’re not leaving.”
White said as a young player, he was slow and nonchalant about getting to the field. At 32-years-old, that’s changed. Now, he likes to make sure no players are left behind and everyone walks to the field together.
In 2021, after 10 years of playing professionally and 15 of playing together, Galloway and White’s locker room ritual will end.
“They’re inseparable. It gets annoying after a while,” Jordan MacIntosh joked. “They’ve been roommates for 15 years. They’re never apart. To go to breakfast, they’re together. To go get coffee, they’re together.”
“There’s definitely a bromance,” Jordan Wolf said.
Eighth-place Chrome (2-6) plays the seventh-place Cannons (2-6) on Aug. 14. The winning team earns a spot in the playoffs. The losing team’s season ends in Albany. If Chrome loses the unofficial playoff game — one week after Galloway and White collectively announced their retirements at the end of the 2021 season — the veteran goalie and long-stick midfielder will play their last professional lacrosse game, and, on par with the rest of their careers, they’ll do it together.
The two grew up in upstate New York and won two national championships (‘08, ‘09) at Syracuse. Galloway is the only starting goalie in NCAA history to win national championships as a freshman and sophomore. Still, his gold medal tops it all.
In 2018, after both missing the roster in 2014, Galloway, White and Team USA held off Team Canada in the final seconds of the game to capture USA’s 10th World Lacrosse Championship at the FIL Men’s World Championship hosted in Netanya, Israel.
When the final whistle blew, Galloway saw White run the length of the field to hug him: A feeling they hadn’t celebrated since their 2009 Syracuse national championship.
“From a lacrosse standpoint, I don’t know if you can get any greater than the pinnacle of our sport with some of your best friends,” Galloway said.
Galloway and White’s friendship didn’t start at Syracuse, rather, it trails back two years before to the 2006 Empire State Games.
The Empire State Games are annual, Olympic-style competitions for New York’s amateur athletes. Different parts of the state — like Long Island, Central New York, Hudson Valley, New York City, etc. — compete for a gold medal to prove their region’s dominance. In 2006, both Galloway and White made the Central New York men’s lacrosse roster.
In high school, White said Galloway was not only the mayor of Syracuse, but its lacrosse community. Galloway knew most people and athletes at the Empire State Games, so during their junior year, Galloway introduced one of the women’s lacrosse players, Kelsey Dowd, to his future Syracuse roommate.
One year later, Galloway invited Dowd to a senior sendoff party, where she and White met again and hit it off.
“We had a long conversation that night and we’ve talked every day since,” White said.
Little did Galloway know, he introduced White to his future wife.
“There’s not too many stories I have that John’s not a part of,” White said. “He not only introduced me, but reintroduced me [to Kelsey] at the right time. It’s pretty special.”
Galloway jokes about how, of all the moments he and White shared, introducing White to his wife is Galloway’s claim to fame.
Both said their wives — Kelsey and Christina — make them run. They’re who pulled one of the most sentimental surprises of Galloway’s life.
On April 23, 2021, Galloway came home from Jacksonville University, where he works as the men’s lacrosse head coach. As he sat down in his house, Galloway got suspicious when Christina started filming him. Christina handed him a letter, which asked Galloway to be the godfather of White’s son Macklin. Quickly, Galloway turned away from the camera, in an effort to hide his tears.
Galloway was shocked. He thought Joel or Kelsey’s brother would get the title upgrade and he’d stick with his current name of “Uncle John.”
“To me, it was a no brainer,” White said. “[Kelsey and I] saw it as an opportunity to grow our family… I’ve always felt no matter what the situation is, the ups and downs happen, but John never waivers with how kind he is. He’s always there.”
August 15, the day after the Chrome-Cannons showdown, Macklin will be baptized in Albany, a full-circle moment Galloway said will be symbolic of the friendship he and White built over the past 15 years.
The Whites now live in Nashville, but chose a church in Albany because both Joel and Kelsey are from there and it’s close by for their families, Galloway and Macklin’s godmother, who lives in New Jersey.
Watching White step into his role as a father inspired Galloway, who said everything White does with Macklin has a purpose.
“It’s the same with Kelsey,” Galloway said. “He’s caring, thoughtful and already motivated to teach Macklin lessons. He’s taught me a lot about what it means to be a great husband and, when the opportunity arises, to be a great father.”
Even Galloway’s parents and White’s parents are friends. The two occasionally receive photos of their parents tailgating a Syracuse lacrosse game together.
Galloway and White love lacrosse, but the game itself isn’t enough to propel a 15-year career. Instead, Wolf still plays to win a championship for MacIntosh, who keeps running for White, who still suits up because of Galloway, who credits his lacrosse longevity to Soudan.
“Some of the most important relationships in my life started with the Rattlers,” Wolf said. “I’m 30 now. I came into the league at 22. The maturation of all of us getting engaged, switching jobs, switching cities and going through all these things. That group has been there for me every step of the way, and that group is led by John and Joel.”
Wolf, who tore his hamstring, is devastated he can’t finish Galloway and White’s lacrosse careers with them on the field. Wolf said he wanted nothing more than to be successful for Chrome and support Galloway and white during their last go-around.
The Rattlers-turned-Chrome friend group formed nearly 10 years ago includes Galloway, White, MacIntosh, Wolf, John Ranagan, Ned Crotty and Mike Manley. Four of whom — Galloway, White, MacIntosh and Ranagan — are Chrome’s captains.
“We’re all still playing because of each other, and John and Joel are the linchpins for that,” MacIntosh said. “They got us excited every summer to come back and play another season.”
It traces back not only to the Rochester Rattlers, but the team-centric culture Soudan built.
Soudan became the Rattlers coach in 2012. Galloway said Soudan puts his ego aside and listens to each player, giving them a voice in gameplans and game-changing decisions. It’s seen in the defensive schemes Galloway and assistant coach Jacques Monte draw up weekly, and it’s what Galloway tries to emulate with his Division I players.
“The lessons Joel and John taught these young guys will live on through us,” Soudan said. “But the leadership of keeping the guys together, somebody is going to have to fill that void. We always leaned on John and Joel [for advice], like, ‘Hey, this is our list for the College Draft, do you know anything about these guys and what kind of guys they are?’ We try to go for character and culture. You pick the best guys you can that can fit that mold and then you end up with a team that’s super willing to play hard for each other, and I think that’s what we’re going to miss the most with these guys.”
Soudan is also an upstate New York guy and, back in the Rattler days, he threw an annual team picnic at his home. His favorite part was watching the wiffle ball game break out and the hypercompetitive Galloway and White take over. Even though the two ran the game, they were always on the same team.
And, as Soudan said, White always brought the fun.
There’s a different type of energy when White is on the field. Even during line drills, White is loud, intense and often smiling, but always enjoying himself.
When White takes his final steps off the field, he’s going to remember the smiles he shared and hopes the fans saw the same.
“He’s the fun one of us two,” Galloway said. “He’s really easy going, nothing bothers him, the total opposite of my personality. He taught me how to relax, enjoy and let my hair down.”
Galloway wants his legacy to lie with his teammates.
“If I can walk away and the guys that played with me say, ‘Man, that guy played as hard as he could, he played with great passion and I wanted to play with him,’ that is a career fulfilled regardless of any championship or accolade you could ever get,” Galloway said.
“If you interviewed 100 guys, 100 of them would love to play with John,” White said.
For Galloway, after playing comes coaching. He’s excited to focus on his team and White his son. By talking everyday, and a little help from direct flights from Nashville to Jacksonville, the two are more excited to build on their memories together.
“I’m grateful to have him as a teammate and a goalie, but mostly as a best friend through this run,” White said.