Editor’s Note: This is the first piece in a series by Nick Rodricks. Nick graduated this spring from Connecticut College and was a captain on the lacrosse team. He is currently working in St. Louis as a high school guidance counselor, helping inner-city kids find their way to college. Marvin the Torch never could keep his hands off somebody else’s business, particularly if the business was losing money. Now this is accepted behavior in Marvin’s profession, which is arson. But he has a bad habit of getting into places where he shouldn’t be and promising too many favors. This is where all his trouble starts. Follow him on Twitter.
When Clayton approached me last week about doing this blog I wasn’t sure what I was more surprised about; the fact that Clayton wanted me to partner up with him or that someone had permitted Clayton to run his own blog. How those two things came about is beside the point for here we are, Clayton and I, six months removed from our final loss in the 2012 NCAA tournament writing about lacrosse. Well, Clayton will be writing about lacrosse and I’ll be writing about life afterwards and the greater lacrosse community. Call me your lacrosse cultural commentator.
Clayton and I were lucky enough to be captains of the same team, in the same year. I think when it comes down to it we’re both happy with what we accomplished in our time at Connecticut College, although we occupied incredibly different roles on the team. Clayton was an all-conference selection while I’m not even sure I reached 20 ground balls in my senior season. Clayton lead the team in more than one defensive category while I more likely than not lead the team in the number of times that I was added and subsequently removed from the starting lineup. Everyone on campus knew that Clayton was on the lacrosse team, while people consistently asked me why I kept showing up at acapella rehearsal dressed in lacrosse sweats. Those differences aside I think Clayton and I see eye to eye on most things.At the end of the day I’m quite sure that Clayton and I would both agree that the things we learned from lacrosse had less to do with who we were as players and more to do with who we were as people.
My role on this blog will be similar to my role on the team at Connecticut College : dealing with the human side of lacrosse. It is no secret that over the last decade or so college lacrosse has begun to earn a less than savory reputation in the athletic community. Rare circumstances, such as the Duke case and the Yeardley love tragedy, have unfortunately proven the rule and college lacrosse players as a community have come to see those repercussions. In a place like the NESCAC where academics come at a premium, being a lacrosse player can be a recipe for advance skepticism. I would never say that being a lacrosse player in itself is difficult socially but I would argue that the thoughtful, proactive members of a team are often washed out by a thoughtless minority. Lacrosse is still a small enough community in the United States that the actions of an individual can define an entire sport. Football players screw up all the time but it seems there are simply too many of them to lump them all together. The lacrosse community doesn’t have this luxury.
My goal in partnering with Clayton is to write about real lacrosse players, their contributions on and off the field and how they feel that being a lacrosse player defines them. There is nothing I am more proud of than having been a captain and a four year varsity athlete. Each year our team would volunteer and give back to the community through fundraisers and manual labor both on campus and in New London. Lacrosse was the fun part but being a member of an organization that thought about more than its individual members was the rewarding part. It is thoughtful players that I want to hear about. I want more organizations like Fields of Growth, Kevin Dugan’s organization, putting themselves out there and giving back.
The way I see it, college lacrosse players have a responsibility to one another. The NESCAC offers us some of the best education in the country and it is our job to make sure that we use it. Our actions define our community. Being a lacrosse player on a campus means that you will be first and foremost remembered as a lacrosse player but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to that description. You could be the lacrosse player that raised money for a charity, or the lacrosse player that started an on campus magazine. You can be an all-American but I guarantee you that if you’re also a member of “Big-brothers Big sisters” people will look at you differently, not just an athlete but a person. We are all bound by our sport and thus we are all bound to that responsibility to one another. Our actions do not only affect us but all members of this brotherhood.
As I follow the NESCAC this year I look forward to continuing to contribute to that brotherhood. Sure, my playing days are mostly over but I’ll always be a Camel and I’ll always be a NESCAC lacrosse player. So, while I toil out here in St.Louis trying to educate poor students about their college possibilities, I will always have my teammates back east in mind. When days get rough out here I always remember that a 6am pool workout was tougher. Why did Clayton and I jump in a pool at 6am? Because our goals were bigger than our own comfort. That’s today’s message. Above you is a team, above the team is a sport, and above the sport is a community. That community does great things and I’m hoping that I can shed some light on them.
Marvin the Torch