TRYOUT JOURNAL: WALKING ON AT SYRACUSE
By Suresh Eswarathasan
The Syracuse Orangeman. The name strikes fear in the hearts of all opposing lacrosse players. The program has a tradition like no other and has maintained a dynasty throughout the 80s, 90s, and into the new millennium. The revolution the sport has undergone over that time stems from the dark green turf under "The Dome." Names like Gary Gait, Paul Gait, John Zulberti, Dominic Fin, Casey Powell, Ryan Powell, and now Mike Powell are the essence of what this program is about. Many would consider the program the premier of its kind in the entire nation. Many players who attempt to play for the team can be 3rd or 4th stringers, while countless more, of lesser potential and skill, are the go-to-guys at other programs. Imagine how intimidating it must be for a walk-on coming onto the SU team, not to mention the amount of skill level needed just to hang with them. I, Suresh Eswarathasan, desire to play for the nation's number one team. I am keeping a log everyday throughout my week of tryouts.
9/3/02 - Today was the signup and physical day. Not much going on with that. However, I did meet a lot of the team. I saw guys that I admired as a high school player. I was somewhat overwhelmed with the reality that during the next week, I would be playing WITH these guys. I met Kieran Murphy (midfield; Suffern High School; Rockland County Player of the Year), Greg Rommell (midfield; Henninger High School; CNY Player of the Year), Dan Farley (long pole; Oswego High School), John Wright (close defense; Birmingham Seaholm, Michigan), and Tommy Theodorakis (long pole; Ward Melville High School). Just being around such talent was a great experience for me today.
Coach John Desko
9/5/02 - First day of tryouts today. I finally got to play with some Syracuse Orangeman; a moment I've awaited for years. We started off with some line drills, and then went into learning about a basic offense 'Cuse executes sometimes. I was most impressed by the performance of Steve Lykudis from West Genny (the same school John Zulberti and my good friend Steve Brundage from Loyola attended). This guy is totally insane. Being that the first two days of fall ball are reserved only for freshman, walk-ons, and the SU players who seek to play more often in games, I was astonished at the talent level here. I can only wait until varsity fall ball starts on Monday and I get to see what SU's really about.
9/6/02 - Another day of just the "rooks" playing. We went over the basic offense and defensive formation again today so that we could get a hang of things. Today Greg Rommell from Henninger lit things up. So did Chris DiMarco, a sophomore from Liverpool New York. I did much better today in practice. Much was learned and I'm looking forward to Monday.
9/9/02 - Big day today. I matched up with the big dogs like Michael Springer, Liam Banks, and Sean Lindsay. It was awesome. The way these guys execute the simplest plays make you truly appreciate SU lax. I think today has been my best day so far. I created a lot of opportunities in broken situations, drills and fast break runs. Probably the most satisfying part of today was meeting the whole varsity team. Guys like Mike Smith (middie from Baldwin, NY; near my hometown of Uniondale), Brett Walther (biggest joker in lacrosse), Jake Plunkett, Dave Puccia, and Pat Hogan are not only exceptional athletes, but are also quintessential individual characters. Today I learned that the constinuents of an Orangeman go past lacrosse and into the debonair of the real world.
9/10/02 - My worst day had to be today. I dropped way too many passes in line drills and let my mind play games on me. It totally blew!! We played on the grass today unlike yesterday on Coyne Field. I have nothing much new to report, in terms of what we did today. I spoke to Coach Simmons about my situation, and he, surprisingly, was very understanding. Donn Vidosh, a starting defenseman from Brother Rice in Michigan, game me a really good talk after practice. "We all have bad days. The thing is - that coaches will always see past that. Just keep hustlin' and put today behind you" He said.
9/11/02 - Today is a little odd, for obvious reasons. Being that today is the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, practice didn't seem as intense as it has been for the past few days. I performed decently, holding my own as much as I could. If I remember, the only things we did were broken situations, fast breaks, and the organized offense. Tommy Theodorakis and I are getting to know each other pretty well, which is awesome since I now can have a buddy that plays for the nation's best program if I don't :. A lot of the guys are saying that I am doing fine, and that is a big relief for me, and a confidence booster.
The Reigning Champions!
9/13/02 - Today I changed a lot. I decided that there was no longer any reason to be scared or nervous. It's my last day. I had to go all out. It must have been the least stressful day of all, mainly because practice ended at 4:30 unlike the usual time of 5:30. Most of our day was spent scrimmaging. Hopefully this isn't my last day with the Orangemen. The final cut list is posted this upcoming Monday.
After practice, I said my thanks to a lot of the players on the team who were willing to accept me as a teammate for a single week. I can say that the leadership and on-field performances of guys like Liam Banks, Mike Springer, Brett Walther, Matt Bontaites, and Mike Smith definitely showed me the real side of major college sports, and a little bit about life too. It thank each and every one of these men who had in them to accept me as an Orangeman for five straight days and hopefully for four years to come. I fear looking at the final squad list that is to be posted in Manley Field House at 3:30 pm on Monday. My whole summer was dedicated to lacrosse, along with the past three years of my life, really. I literally worked my butt off in conditioning myself, watching tons of game tape, and improving my ability as a player. I really do hope that my dreams come true this week.
9/16/02 (before learning) - I just woke up about 45 minutes ago. I'm really nervous right now. My fate will come down to a simple sheet of paper. I think I will learn really easily if I made the team or not. Since my name is pretty long, it sticks out, so seeing it would be kinda simple. Today I will realize whether all the months of hard work I put into the game I love so much will come into fruition. I guess I have to be ready for anything. I really don't know how I will take it if it doesn't work out for me. Maybe the Lord will decide what the best thing is for me.
9/16/02 (after learning) - Well I guess things didn't go the way I wanted them to go. I did, unfortunately, get cut from the team. The list was posted as the fall roster. Of course when one's plans, that are months in the making, don't go accordingly, one gets a little choked up. It was tough, but nonetheless appropriate, to say my thanks to all the players while still being pretty down. I spoke to Coach Simmons about what my options would be now. He gave me the opportunity of being a manager. A manager assists the coaches and travels with the team for every game. I would basically be going to every lacrosse practice and hanging with these guys whom I like, which is pretty cool, after all.
I think the moral of this chapter in my life is that you must make the circumstances abide to your plans and goals, instead of letting yourself conform to circumstances. In a lacrosse context, this means that whether you come from a school that isn't too strong in lacrosse or you start playing lax late in your career, both of which describe me, you must make hard decisions when it comes to playing in college. Regardless of what the circumstances are, you have to make things go your way, like maybe finding a way to play competitive lacrosse throughout the fall and spring, and learning from the best in the game on this manager gig. I wonder what that will entail. I hate settling for anything less than my goal, but my passion to play here is not diminished. I'm going to keep on fighting to keep my dream alive. I still have three years left…
DID YOU SEE THOSE JERSEYS?
Carc's sporting the new REBEL/STX Uniforms!
September 17, 2002