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Lacrosse, Old School, New Gear, and Life

By Ric Beardsley


Where have all the "Old School Players" gone? As I watched the Division 1 Men's Final 4 this past Memorial Day I was taken back. I noticed that the era of the "Small" lacrosse player is going away. As I watch the UVA/UMD game I could not believe what I was seeing. Every player on the field was huge! It truly was NCAA "Men's" lacrosse! Lacrosse used to be the game that smaller kids could play, but like every other sport that has grown the players have now grown in size too. The era of a defenseman being less than 6 foot is over. I think I played with one of the best defenses in NCAA lacrosse history in 1995. Not one of the starters on that D was bigger than 6 feet tall and none weighed more than 205. Nowadays those guys might be considered small Attackmen! The combination of more kids playing the game and the stress of weight training has taken the game to a new level. With that said, I will say this. Kids may have gotten bigger but they certainly have not gotten tougher. Say what you may about that comment, but I still coach and watch a lot of high school boys play this game. Most of them are "soft", not all, but MOST.

What happened to the player that was so tough that you couldn't phase the player at all and in any situation? Let's face it, you can be the biggest and the fastest, but if you have no mental toughness you are not going to be a superstar in the Division 1 level. Kids nowadays are babied by their parents and it shows in their mental toughness. I see more kids quit, more kids fight, yell back at parents and coaches, and it is flat UNREAL! I am not perfect by all means and have a temper, but what separates a superstar from the pack is the ability to take that rage, that anger, and channel it so it doesn't affect your play. And I know what I am talking about. The reason I was hated and I was able to dominate defensively was that I was able to get many players off their game by using my loud mouth and talking trash. I was in their head and they thought about getting me back before focusing on what was at hand during the game.

I have a few "Words of Wisdom" for the players of tomorrow; first, suck it up! When a coach yells at you for a mistake, or anything, be able to handle it and don't quit. Second, stop whining. Too many players nowadays complain about every little thing. Thirdly, if you are not that good don't act like you are a descendent of the Gaits or the Powells. And finally, remember there is always someone out there better than you. So play hard every time you step on a field. You are very fortunate to be out there playing. If you are on a college field, there are many kids that would give anything to be in your shoes!


I would like to take a step back and say Congrats to my good buddy Roy Colsey for making the 2006 USA Team. It is about time that he finally got the respect from the whole lacrosse world and it is well deserved.


It's a hot topic, but I will not comment on the Powell vs. Warrior case, other than that I am glad it is settled now. I had no opinion on that at all. I like both parties involved, and they're both friends. I wish them future success in whatever they do.


It is amazing how technology and the advances in equipment have changed the game. I was part of both generations, the old school equipment and the new school stuff that is still coming out. Take helmets, for example. In my earlier days we had the normal suspension helmets and they were light and comfortable. Then the NCAA changed the rule to a new style helmet that we called a "Brain Bucket." And then came the Cascade Helmet, and OH, how did that change the way we all looked at helmets. Not only are today's helmets light, they are pretty darn comfortable. Also, sticks are more durable then ever and there are so many to choose from each manufacturer. I have a great stick which I love but I could not even tell you what kind it is! All I know is it is light as hell and stiff enough to play with. As I write I wonder how much better a guy like Jim Brown would have been using the equipment of today. I can tell you he would have still dominated. The guy was a monster! The great debate: Would the great players of the 21st century be as good if it weren't for the innovations that have taken place in equipment changes? Of course! "It's not the wand, it's the Magician!" That holds true always with great players. That's why they aren't really any better than the best in any era, either. Do the lighter and better designed sticks help you get a better shot? NO DOUBT! Does it help a defenseman throw faster checks? HELL YES! Does it help the game? YOU BET!

What will they think of next? What new design will be the next craze of the game? Lacrosse has become big business due to the growth in popularity. I think it is great that you can make a living off lacrosse. I wish I could do it. Lacrosse is not a game. It is a way of life. Once you play it, the game sticks with you always. It comes out in everything you do after in work, parenting, etc.

I love lacrosse. I love the fact that I was so good at it. I do. It was invaluable in my life. I met great people in the game and learned so much about life through it. Yes, you can learn so much from this sport. I learned how to handle pressure situations and life changing circumstances, and learned how to appreciate things most of all. Take the time really look at the game, play it passionately and learn from it and its people.

July 14, 2005

Photos by E-Lax Staff, Jerry Shifflet and Philadelphia Barrage.


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