Editor’s Note: This article by James “Jimmy” Ciccone originally entitled ‘Playing Lax Later: For Those Players New To The Game’ was published on February 23, 2011 at 9:48 a.m. This article has been repurposed to best serve the lacrosse community. Ciccone grew up in South Jersey and didn’t start playing lacrosse until his Junior year of high school. Now he’s all in. It’s amazing how people can pick this sport up when they’re 6, 16 or 46 and fall in love with it so quickly. More proof it really is the greatest game on two feet. Be sure to share how you started playing the game in the comments, or get at us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #HowIStartedLax and tagging our social media handle @LaxAllStars.
What’s up guys? I’m here to shake things up a bit. Usually lacrosse blogs or editorials are written by your Bay Area or New England Prep School laxer who was split-dodging newborns in the hospital as soon as they cut the umbilical cord, or some journalist with a wikipedia page worth of lax knowledge. Well, I’m here to give my average Joe take on this up and coming sport, and what you can achieve in such a short time as I started playing lax later a bit later than normal. This is my first blog on LaxAllStars, so please feel free to leave some criticism!
First things first, I’m from a small town outside of Atlantic City, NJ, so until the Spring of my junior year of high school (’08), I had never picked up a lacrosse stick. My main thing was roller hockey, since we did not have many ice hockey rinks by us. Once I heard our high school was starting a new lacrosse team (Spring 2009), I decided to give it a shot. If I was gonna do this it was gonna be all or nothing.
As soon as the first lax clinic was organized, I quickly signed up and made a friend in a kid, Taylor, who apparently went to my school and was also pretty psyched about the team. From then on we took it upon ourselves to do as much as we could with the time we had until that first face-off, and made sure we had plenty of motivated players on that field with us. I’ll never forget one of the days at the clinic a coach from EHT said, “I’ve seen new players put their time in and become phenominal players. If you put in the effort, you’ll become a very good player and it’ll show on the field.” Those words lit a fire under my ass to keep getting better.
Fall of my senior year: My buddy and I talked up this up-and-coming team every chance we got to get guys interested, but our voices went unheard… at least until football and soccer seasons were over. Then we had athletes from both sports asking about what Taylor and I were doing. The football players were especially anxious when they heard how slashing and checks were legal.
Soon enough we were playing practice games, about 15 to 20 guys each time with no protection other than gloves and sticks. No helmets, chest protectors, arm guards etc. Thinking back, it probably wasn’t very smart on our part but we were having fun and getting some practice in, so we didn’t care. One time it had even snowed quite a bit and all we had at our disposal that day were field hockey nets, but we made due and just played.
We grew so much as a team, we took trips to Philadelphia Wings games just to see some type of lacrosse in game situation. We studied videos and practiced as much as possible. Soon enough we were looking somewhat decent. After all, none of us (with the exception of one person) played before. What we lacked in experience we made up in conditioning with the help of the retired basketball coach turned lacrosse coach. Me, Taylor and one our D-poles, Joe C, were named captains. It was amazing to know our hard work earned us a spot as captains. We finished the season with 5 wins, which we were extremely proud of, considering only 2 of those wins were against our sister school who also just got a team. The other wins were against established teams.
It wasn’t until our banquet that we found out that I and two other teammates received Honorable Mentions for the Cape Atlantic League team. Not bad for a first year team and someone that started playing lax later in life, right?
Now if your reading this saying “This kid is just trying to live his high school season all over again and brag”, then you’re missing the point. What I’m trying to say is it doesn’t matter how late you start this game. As long as you put in your time you can easily become a threat on the field. I may not be playing D1, 2 or 3 but I’m very proud of where I am. If you would’ve told me I could even play club lacrosse in college competitively, after having started playing lax later in life with only 1 year of varsity lacrosse experience, I’d think you were nuts. The blood, sweat and tears were well worth where it got me today and if I had to do it all over again I would.
Since high school I’ve been playing on a club lacrosse team at Penn State Berks, that me and my buddy just established last year, but that’s a story for another day. So to all you new players out there, where there’s a will theres a way. If you have got a goal, go for it, the only thing stopping you from getting there is yourself.