Not that I necessarily would have considered trying out for a professional Major League Lacrosse team, but the option did not even exist when I finished my college career in 1996 even if I had the ambition and/or the ability to go there. The only profession lacrosse league at the time was the Canadian indoor National Lacrosse League. Indoor lacrosse was fun, but most American players were more adept to the field game, so that career path did not really appeal to the vast majority of us.
As a result, for those of us that played college lacrosse even at a high level, once our eligibility was up we would reflect on a fulfilling experience in the sport we loved and move on the the next phase of our professional lives, which for 99% of us did not include lacrosse. For me, it was to increase the hours I worked an an off campus veterinary hospital, enroll in post graduate courses to pad my GPA and academic resume, take the Graduate Record Exam, and begin the extensive veterinary school application process.
With the excitement of a future in a field of my dreams and the whirlwind of admissions interviews and making plans to pack up and begin veterinary school, it is amazing how quickly one can move on. I can honestly say that I did not even think about lacrosse again until I was about to start my second year and I saw one of my classmates having a catch with lacrosse sticks. Although I had already known this gentlemen for some time, we never compared notes about our lacrosse backgrounds. Having been raised in Boca Raton, FL, my friend had attended and played lacrosse for St. Andrews private school. I was amazed that I has not even picked up a stick in nearly two years, nor did I even think to bring my lax stick to vet school with me!
Still, even with the reminder and having a periodic throw around with my classmate through my vet school years, as I met my future wife in my fourth year, passed boards, and prepared my new life in New York with my new wife and my new career; lacrosse was but a fond memory and little more. When my wife and I decided to sell our home and move to the warmth of the Florida Space Coast and purchase a veterinary hospital, not only was I not thinking about lacrosse, but I was moving to an area that had ZERO lacrosse!
As life started to get into a rhythm and my wife and I became more settled and made friends in our new community of Viera, Florida, the memories started surfacing again. Not only was I reflecting on and really missing the game, I began to talk about it more, and with many in my new area not having been exposed to the game, people were genuinely interested.
One evening when I was hanging out with my yard neighbor, Brian, he commented on the evident love that he noted when I talked about lacrosse and suggested that I fulfill that passion though coaching. I made a mental note that I would keep an eye out for coaching opportunities, but in an area without lacrosse, I did not see that possibility for the foreseeable future.
That weekend, on my way home from golfing driving in my golf cart, I saw a father and his 12 year old son having a lacrosse catch in their front yard. I could not help but stop and inquire how they learned about lacrosse. As it turned out, they were part of an effort on the beach side to start a youth lacrosse league. He told me that they were badly in need of coaches that had real playing experience and that if I was interested, there was a planning meeting that week!
There was far too much coincidence for me to feel that the progression of the conversation with my friend, the chance meeting with a dad and son who was part of an effort to start lacrosse in an area that I moved to that previously had no lacrosse; for me to dismiss this as anything other than something that was meant to be. I planned to attend that meeting which ultimately would change my life dramatically.
See my next article Vipers Lacrosse for the continuation of my rediscovering the love of the game!
Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.