“Forget the refs… it’s jungle rules out there!” -Ron Wolfley (former NFL player)
Xavier McDaniels (and pretty much most of the New York Knicks in the early-90’s).
Every team has its version of an “enforcer” somewhere in the line-up. I believe in displaying sportsmanship during competition. I also believe in showing an opponent that you will not take anymore of their cr*p at a certain point.
My senior year in boarding school, I was among a handful of returning players from a team that won a New England Lacrosse Championship the year before. I was also a fulltime starter in goal with new defensemen in front of me, and knew that this year was going to be VERY different – a rebuilding year.
Our coaches scouted for individuals to fill the vacant spots. So when it came to my defense, it was made up of three, incredibly strong and talented football players with interesting backgrounds. Steve Cuitillo, the school’s quarterback, who possessed a laid-back, surfer personality from Manasquan, New Jersey. Angelo LiCausi, a hard-nosed, blue-collar type presence from Brooklyn, New York. The third and final spot was, Gabor Tokes, a foreign exchange student from Budapest, Hungary, who was quiet yet intimidating. None of them ever played the game of lacrosse before. Coach gave them their “poles” and threw them “into the cold water” that was the game of lacrosse. Needless to say, all on the defensive end of the field endured an everlasting hardship during games.
Midway of the season (and winless) and nothing to loose, we were going to play our version of “street lacrosse” on defense. We found ourselves playing at the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, when my defensemen unleashed their aggressions on our opponent. Body checks almost looked like tackles. Sticks were almost used as weapons. Both were accompanied with a loud yell from each individual on defense. Yellow flags went up, as did the tension and voices from both sides of coaches. I think we played that team mostly on a man-down basis considering the style of play involved. Regardless of changing our style of play, we still did not win that game.
Looking back, I couldn’t blame Steve, Angelo and Gabor for their lack of overall skill. I don’t think that they even liked the game of lacrosse. But they were doing the whole team a favor by doing something important without having any previous experience. Jumping into something cold without some sort of experience, I admit, is something I rarely do to this day as a working professional. That year will be remembered as the worst playing season of my lacrosse career… but I never had a startling line of complete enforcers in front of me since then.
This story compliments my newest piece added to The Art of Lax™ portfolio titled:
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