Thursday, April 12, 2012
Lacrosse: Celebrities That Once Played the "Creator's Game"
According to several surveys and outlets, lacrosse is currently the fastest growing sport in the country.
More kids—girls and boys—are playing. More high schools and colleges are providing programs to those players. Major League Lacrosse, the premier outdoor league in the USA, expanded by two teams this year with plans to introduce even more new teams in the future. The MLL also signed a big television deal with CBS Sports this past year.
The game has grown from Long Island and Baltimore to Virginia and New England and all the way to California and Denver. The players are becoming more popular than ever, even where a guy like Paul Rabil is on a number of commercials for athletic apparel.
While there are a number of stars today like Rabil, Matt Danowski and Kyle Harrison, there are also several celebrities that grew up playing the game and might have gone pro in lacrosse had that been an option years ago.
Here are some famous people that you may or may not know to have played “the Creator’s Game”:
Silverheels is the nickname of the actor that played Tonto on “The Lone Ranger”.
Born Harold J. Smith on the Six Nations Reservation in Canada joined the semi-pro Mohawk Stars at the age of 16 as a way to make some extra money for his family during the Great Depression. He had good hands and was quite agile. He was a very swift player, well known for wearing white cleats, which earned him the nickname “Silverheels”. He grew to be one of the nation’s highest-scoring and highest-paid players.
She has her own show on CNN (“Erin Burnett OutFront”), has been on the cover of Maxim magazine and has served as an advisor to Donald Trump on the hit-television show “Celebrity Apprentice”.
But before all that, the now-35-year-old was a lacrosse player.
She played at her high school, St. Andrew’s School in Delaware, and went on to play in college at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass where she received her B.A. in Political Economy.
You may not recognize his name but you’ll definitely recognize his face. Dante has played in just about every Adam Sandler movie since “The Wedding Singer”.
Dante has been very involved in lacrosse throughout his life. He played at Hofstra in the ‘80s and is still active in the sport even after appearing in so many movies. Dante was a coach for the LXM Pro Tour for its first few outings and is currently an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount.
Foley grew up on Long Island, so naturally he was a lacrosse player. And it makes total sense that the former WWE Hardcore Champion would be willing to play goalie and stand in front of shots.
Foley (a.k.a Mankind, a.k.a Cactus Jack, a.k.a Dude Love) attended Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, New York and played on the lacrosse team. He also played a bit at SUNY Cortland before leaving to become a professional wrestler.
He is known as one of the best soccer coaches in the history of the United States. He’s led the University of Virginia, D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy to numerous championships and also led the United States Men’s National Team to two World Cups (including the incredible quarterfinals run in 2002).
He grew up playing soccer but was also a phenomenal lacrosse player.
Another Long Island-native, Arena played at Nassau Community College before transferring to Cornell University. At Cornell he was an All-Ivy first team lacrosse midfielder his junior and senior years. After graduation he played in the National Lacrosse League in 1975 and was also a member of the U.S. national team in 1974 and played for the U.S. in the World Lacrosse Games in 1978.
The rock star grew up in Virginia, a state with a pretty good lacrosse scene. The Foo Fighters front-man paid a lot of attention to learning the drums but he was active too. Grohl is famous in his music for being a hard hitting drummer so it’s not surprising that he was drawn to such a hard hitting sport.
In an interview with US Weekly, Grohl admits that lacrosse was his favorite sport growing up and that he played goalie.
The senior United States Senator and former Democratic Presidential Candidate was a former lacrosse player.
Kerry played lacrosse and hockey at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, where he was a teammate of current FBI director Robert Mueller. Kerry continued his hockey career at Yale, where he also played JV lacrosse.
He’s a politician by day, but still to this day Kerry is a huge sports fan and enthusiast.
He’s one of the best coaches in the NFL, but New England Patriots head coach also has a strong affinity for and knowledge of lacrosse.
Belichick was a captain his senior year at Wesleyan University in 1975. In an interview with USA Today his coach says Belichick “was an excellent leader. We had two kids on each side of him who had never played lacrosse before, and he coached them to become very good lacrosse players.”
The hooded-one still keeps an eye on the game today. He’s done a few interviews talking about his love for the sport and his support of Major League Lacrosse. He was also spotted at the Big City Classic, watching from the Johns Hopkins sidelines.
The “Great One” wasn’t an exceptional athlete in only one sport. Lacrosse is one of the National Sports of Canada (along with ice hockey) and as a kid Gretzky played the sport just like many other Canadians and ice hockey players.
Gretzky and commented on kids playing multiple sports and his experiences playing lacrosse. He wrote, “I could hardly wait to get my lacrosse stick out and start throwing the ball around. It didn’t matter how cold or rainy it would be, we’d be out firing the ball against walls and working on our moves as we played the lacrosse equivalent to road hockey.”
Brown is the only player to be inducted into the halls of fame for the NFL, college football and lacrosse. Regarded as one of the best athletes the country has ever produced, Brown says lacrosse was his favorite sport.
He played at Manhasset High School on Long Island and went on to play at Syracuse University. He was an All-American midfielder his senior year, where he scored 43 goals and had 21 assists.
It is also speculated that Brown influenced two rule changes in the sport: the need to cradle the ball away from the body rather than trap it against your body and players were no longer allowed to thumb the ball to keep it in the head.
Brown: AP Photo
Silverheels: AP Photo
Burnett: AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab
Foley: AP Photo/Jeff Christensen
Arena: AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Grohl: Mark Davis/AP Images for VH1
Kerry: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Belichick: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Gretzky: AP Photo