The question seems simple: Is New England a lacrosse hotbed? Simple questions often have more complex answers, and this loaded query is no exception. Sure, they’ve been playing lacrosse up in New England for what seems like forever, but then again, the really big periods of growth have only occurred recently. There are plenty of D1 teams in NE, and a couple of them are even regular Top 20 squads. The HS lax, especially in the Prep Schools, is excellent, and the D3 (and emerging D2) teams are impressive. The MCLA has been slow to take off there, but that might mean the New England area IS a hotbed… Ok, I’ll get to that later. Let’s start from the only sensible place; the beginning. And then we’ll jump to the end. And then somewhere in between.
Image courtesy NEC.edu
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. I am from New England and grew up, for most of my years, outside of Boston. I spent some time in Maine as well, but that was only a couple of years. And as a kid, lacrosse was not HUGE in my life until some people in my town made it so. A lot of tons around us played it, and the sport was slowly, but steadily, growing. When I helped start my HS team, there was ONE tournament for every non-private school in the State. Now there are 3 divisions of Public School lax. Things have grown.
My Dad grew up playing at the Rivers School back in the ’60s. I went to day camp there and played lax as a little kid. My first helmet was an OLD Rivers lid that was no longer suitable for HS players. My dad was a member of Rivers team that got to play one of the first public high schools in Massachusetts to pick up lacrosse: Newton North. And then when my town started a youth team, he helped coach. And then he helped us start a team at the public school I attended. I saw the growth of Massachusetts lacrosse happen right before my eyes, and I can say with some certainty, even when you consider all the private school players, that Mass was NOT a hot bed back then. The State produced some amazing players, like Brendan Glass, Mike Battista, Neal Anderson, and Scott Yavarow, but it was more of a diamond in the rough scenario.
Recently, guys like Max Quinzani and Martin Cahill have emerged as stars, and guys like Hakeem Lecky at Cuse give hope to a continued bright future representing the state. The MCLA was slow to start in New England, but if anything that speaks to the amount of NCAA growth and improvement in the area. It has kept pace with demand as countless D3 programs (Tufts, Wesleyan, Amherst, WNEC, Endicott, Keene, etc) have all improved and schools like Bryant have added programs, while teams like Yale and Brown have bounced back to competitiveness. But now even that growth can’t keep pace and teams like BC, BU and others are really stepping up and improving.
Flash forward to today and things have definitely changed. New England, still loaded up with private and prep school talent, recently won the Under Armour Underclassmen Championships. Don’t think they had a tough opponent? They beat Long Island in the Finals. 10-7. Now I’m not saying this makes NE lax better than LI lax. That is a stupid argument anyway. What I am saying is that kids coming out of New England can straight up play now, and that the regional depth is only increasing.
To me, New England, along with Long Island, Baltimore, Upstate NY, N. New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (yes, all of it, at least near the Cities) are all hot beds. Right now. South Florida, California, Seattle, Areas of Texas and Colorado are just a few of the rapidly emerging area. Any of these areas could take the steps New England has taken in the past 5-10 years and be the next full-fledged lax hotspot.
Or will they? And is New England even a hot bed right now?
Quint Kessenich, a man whose lax opinion I deeply respect, recently placed a couple of New England guys on his top underclassmen who played in the Warrior 40 from non hotbed areas list. Maybe NE hasn’t come that far along? Like I said, I’m biased, and from there. So maybe I have New England all wrong. Maybe it is still LI, Upstate, Baltimore and Philly-NYC Metro area (CT too) and that’s it. The rest is just random good players from decent areas. I’m NOT here to give Quint a hard time for his opinion though, that would be childish.
And on the flip side, if you look at the USA U-19 roster, there is exactly ONE kid from New England, and the rest are mostly hotbed kids from big time programs. Ouch, anecdotal arguments are tricky. So I’m not convinced either way, but I’m leaning towards Yes, New England is definitely a Hot Bed.
So I’ll ask YOU the question… is New England a hotbed for lacrosse or not? I’d argue it wasn’t, but that is definitely is now. What say you?