Untucked: Jake Carraway to “reinvent” himself on the Waterdogs
After playing in just two games for Atlas Lacrosse Club last summer, Jake Carraway earned a shot to start in the Championship Series in February. But on the first day of practice, he tore his right groin.
The injury persisted throughout the tournament, but Carraway flat-out refused to give up his chance to show the lacrosse world that he’s “still here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
“It was extremely uncomfortable,” Carraway said of the injury. “I was just like, hobbling around… I wasn’t playing any defense and I wasn’t able to make dodges and pretty much every time I took a step I had tears coming out of my eyes.”
But through an onslaught of 13-yard rifles from various release points, Carraway scored six two-point goals on 11 attempts in the tournament. Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan was impressed by the performance and, two weeks later, the club signed Carraway to a two-year deal.
After scoring 21 points in nine games as a rookie, Carraway’s individualistic mindset, personified by his tucked-in jersey, became an issue for Atlas. Carraway said that not playing last summer was a “very humbling” experience, and one that he’d never dealt with before. That’s why Georgetown’s all-time points leader had to show out in this tournament, and he did just that… at half speed.
Carraway’s passion and production in the PLL Sixes made him a highly sought, but still risky, free agent target. During the process, Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan and Carraway had candid conversations about his, “I don’t want to say mouthy [behavior]…” the coach said, but hot-headed tendencies. Now, the third-year attack is trying to “reinvent” himself as a team-oriented player, and the Waterdogs have already helped set up “Untucked Carraway” for success.
Before signing, Copelan had Carraway call veteran players in the locker room to prove he could fit in with a very selfless group of guys. That list included Kieran McArdle, Mikie Schlosser, Dillon Ward, and others.
“They’re returning champs, they have a really tight-knit locker room,” Carraway said. “I think the calls went well and I proved to him [Copelan] that I could be a selfless teammate and join a humble group of guys that just want to compete for a championship.”
According to Carraway, his ego combined with failing to train hard enough last summer led to losing his spot in the Atlas rotation. Now, his mindset has matured and Carraway has a golden opportunity to revive his career with the defending champions.
“I definitely struggled with it a little bit,” Carraway said about last season. “But I’m kind of trying to look at it as a positive… And to be honest I think it made me grow as a person and as a player to mature a little bit, kind of drop the ego and be grateful for the opportunity to be on the Waterdogs.”
With attackman Ryan Brown’s retirement as well as injuries to Schlosser and attackman Charlie Kitchen, Carraway will compete to be a top offensive complement this season.
In five games during the PLL Sixes, he only took eight one-point shots, finishing with a higher shooting percentage from outside the arc than inside. Carraway’s usually-robust arsenal was limited with the groin injury, but he still made his mark.
“That’s one of the reasons we made the free agency thing happen,” Copelan said of Carraway’s two-point success. “I believe whoever wins that two-point battle throughout the course of the game really puts themselves at a distinct advantage.”
Throughout his career, Carraway has played attack on the wing and in front of the cage. Copelan said this team is “built around versatility,” so he values Carraway’s diverse skill set.
But the Waterdogs’ coaching staff will have to evaluate him personally at training camp before making any decisions on his role. Carraway knows this, and expects nothing to be given.
This summer, he was back on the training grind in Manhattan, lifting and running regularly. Carraway also took live reps with a group of PLL players, including new teammate Ryan Conrad.
Two-to-three times a week, the group would go to a park before work to practice drills, shots and dodges at full speed. And after saying he failed to train hard enough last summer, these workouts have been vital for Carraway’s confidence entering camp.
“The handful of guys who come out to get some reps in have been really beneficial to my training the last couple months,” Carraway said. “I’ve been going a lot harder at it, kind of have a chip on my shoulder now… I’ve been doing everything I can to be at peak performance coming into training camp.”
With a roster full of returning free agents and veteran players, Carraway is a sort of anomaly in this lineup. Nobody knows what his contribution will look like, including Copelan, who said both Carraway and Ethan Walker could spend time in the midfield. The coaches will evaluate that possibility more throughout camp this week, and roles could shift throughout the season.
With that said, Copelan has followed Carraway’s career since he was at Georgetown under his friend Kevin Warner, and knows what he’s capable of. Carraway proved to Copelan that he won’t make the same mistakes, and he belongs with the best players in the world.
“Jake’s a bright dude – he's very self-aware,” Copelan said. “We talked about him maybe just trying to reinvent himself, his image and how he was labeled by others. But Jake’s a really good dude, he’s uber-competitive, and I think he can play.”
Carraway initiated those honest conversations, eager to prove his growth.
But shortly after signing with the Waterdogs, the team’s Twitter account posted a compilation of his best trash-talking moments. Within minutes, Carraway had asked them to take it down because he wanted to be a team-first player going forward, said the team’s social media manager Benjamin Kesman.
Carraway will still play with that noticeable passion, but it’ll be team-based rather than self-centered.
“You’re getting a guy who just got a little dose of reality,” Copelan said. “Getting some bad news there can really motivate someone assuming that they handle it well and with professionalism and I think he’s done both of those things.”
And motivate Carraway it has.
In the spirit of his rebranding, Carraway will be abandoning his patented tucked-in jersey on the Waterdogs. He’s a team player, and will look the part.
“The jersey is untucked – I’m dropping the ego,” Carraway said. “I don’t want anything to be about me. I’m trying to reinvent my image a little bit and I think that comes with a little humility after last summer.”