(Writer’s Note: Back in high school, I would dream of playing lacrosse for the Unites States, but that’s always going to be just that – a dream. I can only image the hard work making the National Team and FULLY respect all who have accomplished that feat. This article is ONLY meant to tell my honest opinions and NOT insult, or disrespect, those who have made a past, and current U.S. Lacrosse team roster.)
“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” (Gen. Douglas MacArthur)
People just want the best of things to put them in the best advantage as possible. The best school, for the best job, for the best network, and so on. But still, nothing is ever guaranteed in life. In 2002, I got back to playing lacrosse on a competitive and regular basis, and was very excited for the World Games of Lacrosse that year in Perth, Australia. The U.S. team looking to defend it’s title from 1998, was very unconventional and surprising.
Red, White, Blue & GREEN.
I remember that headline from a Lacrosse Magazine article about the 2002 U.S. Team. It was made up of current collegiate players, fresh college grads and members of post-collegiate club lacrosse teams. It was very high-brow in a skeptical way. Back then, I was a grade school art teacher and a lacrosse coach. A team practice in Manhattan’s Central Park gave way for a surprise visit from former 1998 U.S. Team member, Kevin Finneran, who just finished a run and watched me coach. I asked him about the 2002 U.S. roster and he frankly said “There’s no way they’re beating Canada!”
I remember the 1998 U.S. Team well, because I attended those games in Baltimore that summer and the thrilling overtime game against Canada, who rallied from an 11-1 deficit. I also remember the stacked U.S. roster with amazing talent and names who ONLY assured another title to be won.
“University of WHAT????”
As a lacrosse goalie, I always look at the goaltenders trying out, or who have made the National teams. In 2002, I was surprised about Trevor Tierney who just graduated from Princeton in ’01, lacking any international experience. I was more shocked when the other goalie was a post-collegiate, club player from Duke-Tobay LC, named Chris LaMonica from the University of Hartford. I don’t think Hartford has ever been to an NCAA Final Four weekend? I wondered what the head coach, Jack Emmer, of West Point was thinking?
The 2002 U.S. Lacrosse Team.
While most of the school names have rich traditions in lacrosse, it was the names of the players and the stage in their lives, back then, which was uncertain.
|5||Tim Schurr||D||Washington & Lee|
|17||Bobby Benson||A||Johns Hopkins|
|27||Todd Rassas||D||Notre Dame|
That summer of 2002, I played at the Jersey Shore Summer Lacrosse League in Sea Girt, NJ and I would have to wait to get home to log (more like dial-up, 56k modem) onto the computer and see the outcome of the U.S. Team. Social media didn’t exist and the 12-hour time difference from NY and Australia made it hard, too. But the website updates were showing the U.S. Team winning! And winning comfortably.
I would be relived to see a win after each game update and then being excited for pulling off the unthinkable by beating the favored arch-rival, Canada, for the title. I thought that 4 years from now, it would be assured for another U.S. Team win in 2006, with that roster, but you know what happened. In 2010, former 2002 U.S. Assistant Coach, Mike Pressler, was given the lead to build the “redeem team” and succeeded in Manchester, England. In 2014, Canada took the title back in Denver by out-coaching the U.S. Team from what a lot of people tell of that game. So, what about 2018 in Netanya, Israel? We’ll see very soon.
Each time I participate in the Lake Placid Summer Lacrosse Tournament, I make sure to visit the site of “The Miracle”. I sit down in a mostly quiet and empty rink and think of what happened there back in February of 1980. The thoughts of being labeled underdogs, or less-favored, come to mind. And in a way, being over-looked, or having disadvantages in life has it’s advantages, as well.
“You can have your plan and strategy all in place, but if you do not have culture set in before, you have nothing.” (Mark Messier)
To this day, I don’t know what coach Jack Emmer had in plan, but he obviously knew a lot more than most who questioned the 2002 U.S Team roster. On paper, the roster might have looked like a weak resume, but the result was all business on the field! I constantly refer to this team as a “case-study”, sort-of-speak, especially when the topic of any World Games comes up.
I opened up this article about the comfort when you know you have the best of whatever it is in life. Because you want to be assured, or just be careful. But still, nothing is ever guaranteed. Sometimes the best things happen when nobody around expects anything, because you just let chance and serendipity play into action.
Go U.S. Lacrosse 2018! :o)
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