It doesn't feel like it, especially up here in New York where it's been like, 20 degrees all week, but we are on the verge of spring. And with spring comes a few of my favorite things; warm weather, baseball, and of course, lax season. It's been an amazing couple of years for my young hardshells, making the finals two years in a row. After watching them do work on Mount St. Mary and Hartford last week, I have faith that this will be the year that anything less than a championship isn't an option for them.
I'm a few springs removed from my time as a manager at The University of Maryland, but lax has become a sport that I will love no matter how old I get. Or at least until me scoping out lax bros results in some kind of special on Dateline that Chris Hansen will host. Anyway, in my many years of lax love, I've come to know the sport pretty well from an inside perspective and outside one, and I like to think I've known a few lax bros well enough to make a judgement call on some of the most typical stereotypes lax bros get pinned with, whether from other students, Nancy Grace, or recently, Peter Dante. This is my breakdown of the stereotypical lax bro, and whether those stereotypes still (or ever did) ring true.
5. All lacrosse bros are rapists and murders.
My involvement with the men’s team at Maryland, coupled with a relationship with a former Duke kid, makes me very capable of shooting down this stereotype. My ex was not a rapist, and my friends are not murderers or lady beaters. There are bad guys in every group. People who are all ego, booze, and a complete lack of self-control. And some laxers have all those things in them, sometimes all at once. But it is not what makes them a lax bro. Every lacrosse player I am friends with (and even the one I dated many moons ago) are good guys. Most of my guys are now married and none of the ones that are strike me as cheaters, let alone abusers or felons. The scandal at Duke and the tragic death of Yeardly Love at the hands of George Huguely are not what made me fall in love with the sport or those boys. I have dated a lot of D-bags in my life, loved a lot of assholes, but my lax friends continue to make me proud. I am never ashamed to say I managed the men’s team at Maryland, or made out with half the team, or dated a kid tied to Duke after that whole case. I know they are good guys with good hearts, and I would never let two isolated cases change the reputations they formed in my heart by actually being part of my life.
4. Lacrosse gets dumb kids into good colleges.
Eh, don’t all sports? This is a half and half true and false. While I found it funny that a lot of my friends and some of my ex’s got into schools that would have used my application for toilet paper, even though I had higher SAT scores and a higher GPA than the laxers they accepted, I also knew lacrosse players who were that creepy kind of genius: the brains could go either way – they might cure cancer or use that intelligence to build an actual Death Star and take over earth. Lacrosse, like any other sport, can get a kid into a school that academically they might not have had a shot of getting into on grades alone. But that’s part of the system and it’s also part of forming a good team and, n my opinion, a good college experience. I know a lot of kids who had 4.0s in college who contributed nothing to their school or their college community. They graduated and no one heard anything from them again. I know a lot of laxers who might not have gotten into their eventual colleges had they not played a sport, but they contributed a lot to their schools and they graduated, some with top honors. In my opinion, every ENG101 class and every JOUR201 class is the same, whether you go to Harvard or Kentucky or Duke or NYU or Ball State. The alumni, reputations, and the namesake professors have a lot to do with the standards of acceptance. Just because a kid gets a 1200 instead of a 1400 on their SATs means they can’t compete in a school. I am all for well-rounded students and I think lacrosse helps get kids into schools and forces them to compete academically as well. So I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I’m not going to sit here and say, “every kid who ever played lacrosse went to a school they were academically matched for.” Yeah… not quite.
3. Laxers are all rich kids with boat shoes and houses on The Shore and in the Hamptons.
Oooof, I probably could have worded that better, but for me, this has always kind of been a little bit of a truth. When I was in college (…cue the “I’m old as fuck thoughts”) most of the lacrosse players I knew came from relatively affluent towns. Many went to private schools and a lot were preps. Actually, I take that back. Having grown up on Long Island, in Garden City, I associated lacrosse with preps automatically. My ex-boyfriend who played lacrosse was the instigator of my first trip to Nantucket, and constant summer trips to The Shore and the Hamptons. Shockingly, Maryland wasn’t really a “preppy” team. While I don’t think there were any dirt poor kids from the wrong side of the track stories on the team I managed, aside from maybe two kids, there weren’t any Abercrombie wearin’, Jeep driving, boatshoe wearing, Vineyard Vine short sporting kids either, which was a big change up for me. The Alfords (of Lacrosse Playground fame) were the first black kids I ever saw play lacrosse. I’m not even kidding. I feel like UVA and Duke had more of the cookie cutter prep teams I was accustomed to having grown up on LI. But now, with the expansion of the sport and the increased interest in different parts of the country – especially the Midwest and the West Coast – lacrosse is starting to slowly escape the reputation of an East Coast, prep school, elite rich white kid-only sport. It is kind of morphing into something new. If Jimmy Borell of LXMPro is any indication, lax couldn’t be less preppy if you tried.
I grew up in a town where rich white preppy kids played lacrosse, and I went to a college where relatively affluent, mostly private school kids picked up that legacy. That was lacrosse for me, and yes it matched the stereotype in a lot of ways. But I acknowledge that the whole “grow the game” concept has reached out to different demographics and I have high hopes the sport will continue to cross boundaries of class, race and economic status.
2. All laxers are alcoholics.
Ehh, another half and half. One of my very good friends from Maryland didn’t drink at all during his tenure in College Park due to personal reasons. Other guys would get blackout drunk and end up naked in a bush outside the Kappa Delta house. It was college. I drank, my friends drank, I puked, my friends puked. Lax kids partied hard and there are definitely some kids who graduated who might have developed cirrhosis of the liver, but most of us grew up. I don’t think heavy drinking is more of a situation among laxers. They drank a lot and their house smelled like stale beer seven days a week, but what college house didn’t? While I can think back to some bad drunken situations (beer bottle throwing, DUI on a scooter, picking up naked chicks from your best friend's bed while he was banging her), I put their drinking on par with most college kids. They weren’t alcoholics. They just loved college. Who doesn’t?
1. 90% of Lax is in the Flow: Lax hair.
I actually had to Google this one. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the hair trends of the boys I was hanging with and banging, but an overwhelming amount of the guys on MD’s team, as well as most (if not all) the laxers I dated, had short, clean cut hair. No flow, no lettuce, no sunshine out the back of the helmets. I feel like this was something I associated with laxers in my older sister’s 1995 yearbook. But now a days, when I think of my buddies, specifically the ones who are still involved in the lacrosse culture, I can’t really think of any that have that flow. To me, that’s more of a hockey hair thing. Maybe I just missed the boat on that trend, but I don’t really get that stereotype because it just never fits with my interactions with lasers. That feels more like a 90’s, pooka shell, Birkenstock, Dave Matthews, Eric from “Boy Meets World” phase, not a lax phase. Are talking about laxers, or are we talking about Brecken Meyers character from “Clueless”? Let’s be real here.