The following is an excerpt from the outstanding blog “The Roots of the Game: A Syracuse Lacrosse Memoir” by Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie.
On his site Dr. Opie details “lacrosse stories from the 70s to 90s on cheap eats, players, coaches, camps, high schools, colleges, clubs, summer leagues, tournaments, pro ball, coaching, and championships.” Every post is full of insights and wisdom on lacrosse and life.
Excerpt from “Reflections on Coaches: John Desko Part 2“:
The summer of my junior year at Syracuse University, I worked my butt off on just squaring up and playing solid defense. I would go to the Snowden Ave Park in the African American section of Ossining, a village that bordered my hometown, to play basketball. I’d try and match up with the better offensive players and work on my defense.
I imagine people started taking noticing my ability to play defense and pass because I people picked me when they had next game. When I returned to Syracuse in the fall my senior year in 84, I had dropped down from 205 to 178lbs. Thanks to drills and lower body workouts with weights from then SU strength coach Mike Wocik, I had a tremendous quickness and great footwork.
I had a great fall ball season and excelled in several scrimmages including a tournament down at Rutgers University. I didn’t know that John took Desko had noticed until in our season opener in the Spring against Hopkins. John is naturally an introvert in my opinion who doesn’t freely share his thoughts like coach Simmons did. So John can be more challenging to read. It was wasn’t until he assigned me to cover returning first team All American Del Dressel that I came to see he had confidence in my play. I was scared and went to Tim Nelson for his take on how I should cover Dressel. Tim gave me a vote of confidence that I will forever remember. “Op,” he said, “just play your game, you can handle him.”
Read more of Dr Opie’s thoughts on his time with Coach Desko in Part 1