A Spring-like day back in February had me suit up in goal to practice with the City College of New York’s club lacrosse team in the Hamilton Heights section of northern-Manhattan. While lacrosse isn’t really known for an urban-setting like Manhattan, or NYC overall, I guarantee that you’d be surprised. It’s a place that has served as a personal experience of lacrosse development for me, while holding an unknown, yet rich history of the sport of lacrosse, as well.
Connor Wilson, coach of the CCNY’s (as it’s known) club lacrosse team reached out with the invite. They needed another goalie to hold a full squad practice, or scrimmage, and I was excited as it had been months since I suited up in full lacrosse gear. As much as I pride myself in being a hardcore and savvy, Native-New Yorker, there’s always a bit of reservation when I’m asked about my lacrosse background and where I grew up.
Look, I get it. Lacrosse in NYC, isn’t like lacrosse in Baltimore, Long Island or Upstate NY, but as I said in the opening paragraph I bet most of you, have absolutely no idea about CCNY’s storied lacrosse history. So, here it goes. Let’s learn something new and cool.
CCNY fielded one of the earliest lacrosse teams dating back to the late-1880’s – you heard that right! And I don’t know if any of them played lacrosse, but some of the noted alumni from CCNY include: Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Ed Koch, Woody Allen and Mario Puzo, among many others in a variety of professions.
During my times riding the subway system in NYC with lacrosse gear in hand, random strangers would come up and tell me stories of CCNY’s past teams going way back. Those great ‘ice breakers’ always sparked curiosity. Even one stranger clearly told me of “watching Syracuse’s Jim Brown hitting the bodies of CCNY defenders to the ground…”
I was always thinking how come nobody knows this? Some research after all these years online came up with a lot of information, especially on their Twitter page (@CCNYLacrosse). See the following pics, below.
For real! Look at these! I’m loving the vintage, retro, old school style. One pic that I found of CCNY’s Main Building on campus, showed their lacrosse field literally right in the middle of campus!
The former lacrosse field had the ground broken for a street as well as other modern-day developments for the school, as seen in the pic, below from CCNY’s website.
My practice with the club team back in February made me think back to that history. It was great to see the kids with their coach and my friend, Connor Wilson, working hard in playing the oldest team sport on Earth, in a city that’s considered the global capital of the World. I greatly appreciated the invite to be with them.
They say that everything has a story. My story actually involves CCNY, and it goes like this.
In 2002, another stranger named Drew Andreotti approached me while looking at sticks at the lacrosse section of Paragon Sports in Manhattan. We talked about our lacrosse backgrounds and traded contact info. One day he calls me up telling me of a pick-up lacrosse game happening on a Sunday night at the City College of NY. With our lacrosse gear in tow, we decided to meet up and take the subway together to the 137th Street and Broadway stop – City College.
As we exited and made our way to the street level in a bustling, busy, urban environment that is typical NYC, we walked following the directions obtained by Drew. As we walked up a slow, inclining set of streets that made up City College’s campus, the distant glow of stadium lights appeared. Upon entering their old, turf lined field, there were around 30 other lacrosse players who were all NYC-based.
At that moment my life changed for the better – forever. Prior to that exact experience in 2002 it had been almost 6 years since I played lacrosse, and it made me fall in love with lacrosse all over again. I don’t know how many people can say something like that, because I’ll never forget it. You can say that it’s now part of my lacrosse history, one to proudly tell other strangers about.
Thanks Drew and City College of NY.
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