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Crosse Clicks: Hazing in College Lacrosse

Hazed and Confused
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince as far back as I can remember, hazing has always been a controversial topic in university settings. From sports teams to greek life, hazing is commonly accepted by students as a right of passage. After all, if your leaders got hazed, shouldn’t you?

When I was in college, I was hazed and it was terrible.

I knew it was going to happen. All of us did. There had been stories about the previous years floating around freshmen cliques since the first day of tryouts. To be honest, it didn’t sound that bad. I was open to the reality that I was probably going to be peer pressured to get wasted at least once when the team was on the road.

Fast forward a few months and we’re on our annual spring break excursion across the country to compete against the best programs in the MCLA. Our team was going through a wacky transformation process. The year before I arrived on campus, the team had won our conference title and received an automatic bid to the MCLA national tournament in Minnesota. We had eight freshmen on the team at the time – plus eleven sophomores and thirteen upperclassmen.

So there we were over 2,000 miles away from campus. It was a Saturday night after a week of games against the toughest competition I’d ever had the pleasure of playing against. Heck, I was just a freshman and my main sport in high school was not lacrosse. Anyone watching probably thought to themselves, “that kid looks more like a lineman than a d-pole.” Thank god, too, because I’ve always been convinced that extra weight I was carrying is what helped keep me out of the hospital on Easter Sunday, 2005.

We’d finished our last game pretty late into the evening, and my dad had traveled all the way there to watch me play. It’d been a while since we’d seen each other, and my dad and I have always been close, so I ducked out of the team dinner and headed out for a steak dinner with him. By that time, I knew what was coming, and if I recall correctly, I think I mentioned it to him.

At this point, I wasn’t really worried. I loved our senior class. I had landed in an upper level video production class my second semester, and one of the seniors was in it too. We teamed up on some projects for class, and I got the feeling that if things got worse than expected, he’d have my back.

After dinner, it had to have been almost 11PM. My dad dropped me off at our hotel and we agreed we’d meet for breakfast before our planes left. I was to invite a few friends.

I walked into the lobby of the hotel and it was quiet, then I made my way upstairs. My room was empty so I figured all the guys had gone out. Then came a knock on the door – a few sophomores looking for me.

Turns out the whole team was waiting, piled into a single hotel room. I walked into this room to cheers and laughter, noticing one of our leading scorers had is arm in a make-shift sling (made out of athletic tape) positioning his hand permanently above his head. Apparently while they were waiting, his hand gotten caught and slammed in the bathroom’s door jam. I’m not sure why I remember that detail, but one thing’s for certain… it was one of my last memories of the night.

What came next was me joining the rest of the freshmen sitting in a circle around the beds. Everyone else was standing, drinking forties and cheap beer. Then someone brought out the paper bags full of ten dollar vodka. Three half gallons, if I remember right.

[quote]Take a few gulps and pass it around! Let’s see if you guys can beat last year’s record![/quote]

We were forced to chug them down as fast as we could. Straight vodka – are you kidding me? It was terrifying. Not at all what I had expected. And did I mention our coaches were there?

Thankfully for all of us, we had a couple cool seniors (and maybe a coach or two) step in to help us out. That dude I’d banked on to have my back? He was the first one to jump in.

It didn’t really matter though. From what I was told, the night turned into a complete sh*t show. I remember hearing something about one of our freshman middies passing out in front of the lobby desk without the receptionist knowing. Apparently it was hilarious.

So what happened to me? I booked it to my hotel room bathroom as soon as the bottles were empty. It was just down the hall, but that didn’t really matter. It only took a minute or two for major drunkenness to kick in. The very last thing I remember is closing the bathroom door, locking it, and putting up the toilet seat. I put my hand on the towel rack next to the toilet, assuming it would hold my weight.

Five and a half hours later I woke up on the bathroom floor staring at the towel rack next to me.

Needless to say, the next day absolutely sucked. I felt violated and embarrassed I let something like that happen to myself. By 7:30AM my dad was calling, saying he was downstairs ready to go grab some breakfast. Nobody joined us as they were all still fast asleep.

Somehow I stomached breakfast and held back the full story from my dad. He dropped me back off at the hotel, we said our goodbyes, and when I got back upstairs most of the guys were still asleep. Twenty minutes later and everyone was scrambling to pack up and get to airport.

Our team barely caught its flight.

As a freshman in college I was completely terrified by the position I had put myself in by joining the team. Suddenly these teammates of mine weren’t the type of guys I ever wanted to be around.

Our team moved on to win out the rest of the regular season and travel to Minnesota for nationals again. I didn’t go. It wasn’t worth it to me to ask my family to fork over the cash necessary to travel there. Remember, this was the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, a league in which players pay their hard earned money (or more commonly that of their parents, that is) to play the sport they love.

From what I was told, Easter weekend 2005 wasn’t the last of freshman hazing, but what was left to do was much more “fun.” Players were forced to wear their lacrosse helmets through the Mall of America, including on the roller coaster ride.

I’ve never regretted not going to nationals though. Being a part of that team just wasn’t something I ever wanted to let define me.

That’s why I don’t really have any pity for the Bucknell men’s lacrosse program, its new two year probationary period, their head coach Frank Fedorjaka’s likely fear of being fired, or the fact that players from the senior class will be forced to serve a “one-game suspension for failure to meet leadership expectations.”

They’re all getting off easy, no matter the details of what they actually did.

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The Glencoe high school boys lacrosse team out of Western Oregon has produced back-to-back-to-back undefeated conference records the past few season. Think the players are feeling any pressure this year? Time to shoot for that State title! (OregonLive.com)

New coach, new team… the Arcadia University student newspaper takes a look at the new men’s lacrosse team led by former Rutgers and Denver Outlaws coach Jim Stagnitta. (The Tower)

It’s never too early to start thinking about summer lacrosse, but instead of thinking about what camp, tourney, or event you’ll attend, why not consider a service trip? Fields of Growth Int’l recently released information about service opportunities in Jamaica and Uganda. Check them out if you feel like doing some good for the game! (FOG)

Is your team prepared enough to beat a zone defense? (LAS)

The Stevenson men’s lacrosse team got a big win last week, beating No. 3 Tufts 15-9. That’s 12 goals below Tufts’ average! (Baltimore Sun)

Christian Swezey over at IL wrote a nice piece on the High Point men’s lacrosse team’s progression as a new NCAA Division I program. It’s all about motivating your players! (IL)

“One of the biggest mistakes newer officials make is to assume that once the play is over, their job is done.” (Atlanta Lacrosse Official)

With nearly a 60% save percentage, Cornell men’s lacrosse goalie Christian Knight – a freshman! – is “just trying to go out and have fun and do [his] best.” Sounds like he’s also got a great support system! (Baltimore Sun)

Shack Stanwick, the youngest of the 8 children, has his heart set on a State title in his final season at Boys’ Latin. No pressure or anything. (Baltimore Sun)

Lacrosse companies and NCAA violationsevery person in the industry should read this piece by Connor Wilson. (LAS)

Box lacrosse is taking off in England! (LAS)

Looking for a team fundraising idea? Why not try dodgeball? Yes, dodgeball. (The Beacon News)

A Lynn University men’s lacrosse player saved the day in Boca Raton, Florida, by helping nab a hit-and-run suspect for the police. Nice work, Brandon Rothstein! (CBS Miami)

Apparently the 2014 North Carolina defense is fo’ real! (Daily Tarheel)

One answer to solving competitive imbalance in high school lacrosse conferences: competitive imbalance is to split a conference into divisions. But many league officials and coaches fail to realize that’s only one of the many solutions available. Just as the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. (SoMdNews)

Syracuse long pole freshman Scott Firman is getting quite a bit of unexpected, yet totally welcomed playing time this season. His brother still calls him “space cadet,” though. (Syracuse.com)

Youth players in the small town of Rupert, Idaho, are falling for the sport of lacrosse. Props to the Idaho Lacrosse Association for helping grow the game in Magic Valley! (MagicValley.com)

Parents, you are great people but according to the standards that most of you raise your kids by today, it is amazing that you survived high school athletics without severe mental trauma. You guys grew up in the same era I did. But do you remember it?” (LaxPlaybook.com)

“Meet Jordy Taylor, a senior at Converse College with a passion for sharks and lacrosse.” (HuffingtonPost.com)

Got something you want us to include in next week’s edition of Crosse ClicksDrop us a line.

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About the author

Jeff Brunelle

Jeff Brunelle is the founder and CEO of Lacrosse All Stars. A west coast native and product of the MCLA, Jeff moved back East after college and truly fell in love with the game. He now spends every waking moment building LaxAllStars.com and Red Label Sports from our headquarters in Boise, Idaho.

3 Comments

  • Wow, your hazing experience sounds terrible. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

    While I agree that certain elements of hazing should be banned and should be illegal, not all of it should. We need to do a better job of defining exactly what hazing is. Obviously, anything that can endanger someone’s safety (such as forced alcohol consumption) should be classified as hazing and be eliminated.

    But what about more harmless things? Is it so terrible to make the team’s younger guys carry the ball bucket, equipment, and water? Activities such as those, while technically discriminatory, (and considered hazing sometimes) are harmless and serve a purpose.

    What about other activities such as “talent shows”, where younger members of the team perform funny skits (often self deprecating, joking about other teammates/coaches, or events that only team members will understand etc) to entertain everyone? These things can be fun for all, can help bring a group together, and are harmless. What is the problem with that? This is similar to wearing your helmet through the Mall of America. It’s funny, harmless, and can be a bonding experience.

    We need to consider the details and not paint everything with the broad label of “hazing”.

  • Wow, your hazing experience sounds terrible. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

    While I agree that certain elements of hazing should be banned and should be illegal, not all of it should. We need to do a better job of defining exactly what hazing is. Obviously, anything that can endanger someone’s safety (such as forced alcohol consumption) should be classified as hazing and be eliminated.

    But what about more harmless things? Is it so terrible to make the team’s younger guys carry the ball bucket, equipment, and water? Activities such as those, while technically discriminatory, (and considered hazing sometimes) are harmless and serve a purpose.

    What about other activities such as “talent shows”, where younger members of the team perform funny skits (often self deprecating, joking about other teammates/coaches, or events that only team members will understand etc) to entertain everyone? These things can be fun for all, can help bring a group together, and are harmless. What is the problem with that? This is similar to wearing your helmet through the Mall of America. It’s funny, harmless, and can be a bonding experience.

    We need to consider the details and not paint everything with the broad label of “hazing”.

  • Hazing for my college lacrosse team was pretty tame and I have no complaints as it was handled pretty well by the guys. The main event involved drinking beer out of an old cleat, this was called “shoot the boot”. As the night wore on there were variations of boot-shooting that got a little nuts, butt I digress. It was all done in fun and wasn’t forced on anybody, which was pretty cool.

    Now for the hockey team, that’s where I had major issues. It was known that first-year players would have their heads shaved. I made it very well known that I didn’t want my head shaved well before hand.
    The night of the event we were fed huge amounts of alcohol, I’m guessing so that people would be more receptive to getting shaved. When it was my turn I refused. I was then held down and forcefully had my head shaved. Almost quit the team over that.

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