December 5, 2012

From NELJ: Life after lacrosse

New England Lacrosse Journal profiles a dozen players who earned honors as the top individual in their conference at least once between 2007 and 2011 to find out what role the game plays in their lives now.

Jake Beebe

Jake Beebe hopes to become a fixture in the Cannons' lineup. (Getty Images)

Jake Beebe, 2009 Player of the Year for the Pilgrim League while playing for Springfield College and a current reserve player for the Boston Cannons, has dedicated his career to athletics and lacrosse because it’s given him so much in his life thus far.

After an exceptional career at Springfield, finishing as an All-American under legendary Springfield coach Keith Bugbee, Beebe pursued a master’s degree in athletic administration while assisting Bugbee by coaching Springfield’s offense.

Bugbee — who sought his protégé out for the position — couldn’t be a bigger fan of his young assistant as he pursues his dream of playing professional lacrosse.

“He’s as good as it gets, holds an NCAA record for most points, and the kid just doesn’t miss much,” Bugbee said. “He loves lacrosse and he’ll play as long as he can and he appreciates the opportunity he’s getting.”

After coaching and studying at Springfield, Beebe is now working for Atlantic Sportswear as a custom team-wear sales representative. Beebe says he wants to stay in the sports field because he understands the people that work in sports and they understand him.

Beebe also has faced quite the transition from playing NCAA Division 3 to practicing with the Cannons.

“It’s my fourth year now on the practice team, and it’s been a great experience sitting behind three All-Stars on attack,” said Beebe, who shined in getting some action in Cannons games that opened the 2012 season. “It makes me hungry and makes me want to earn a spot every game … I’m maturing as a person and starting to see things differently — you know what you have to do to get better.”

— AMANDA PELLEY

Nick Cosco

As a junior in 2008, Nick Cosco enjoyed a stellar season for Endicott College, scoring 50 goals — including three five-goal games — and adding 22 assists, earning Commonwealth Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.

In four years as a Gull, Cosco registered an even 200 points, with 132 goals and 68 assists.

Then he took a hiatus from lacrosse.

“I got my MBA right afterwards from Endicott in the accelerated program. I traveled to Europe for a little bit. I visited Rome, Florence and London,” Cosco said. “It was hard to transition away from Endicott, because that (lacrosse) program meant so much to me.”

Returning to the States, Cosco got a job at technology company Oracle, working in business development. He works with application developers, helping them map out strategies to reach their company goals, whether that is to be bought out or to reach a certain number of users.

He enjoys his job, but the itch for lacrosse resurfaced. Cosco joined the War Pigs, a New England club that plays in the American Lacrosse League, a post-collegiate men’s circuit. He also helps coach his cousin and his friends in one-on-one sessions.

He wants to see if he can make it to the next level though.

“To be involved still is great, but I do have it in the back of my head saying give it a shot,” Cosco said. “A lot of teammates from Endicott are playing with the Cannons, so I’m happy for them.”

Cosco remembers Endicott fondly and credits head coach Sean Quirk for making the experience memorable.

“Coach taught me so many life lessons on being a great lacrosse player, a great student and being good with my family and how I carry myself,” Cosco said. “We represented more than just the program.”

— PHILLIP SHORE

Mark Eaton

Former Springfield standout Mark Eaton hopes to make his mark as a lacrosse coach. (Photo: Springfield College Athletics)

For a long time, Mark Eaton’s life was dominated by three things: lacrosse, working out and school.

When he graduated from Springfield College in 2011 with a degree in sports management, Eaton found himself unsure what to do next.

“It was kind of an eye-opening experience for me to get out and be like, ‘Wow, I haven’t had so much freedom,’ in terms of how I was always going to school and playing sports,” Eaton said. “I was so used to that, and once I got out, I was kind of like, ‘What do I do now?’ It was just kind of shocking, more or less.”

Eaton’s answer? More of the same.

Looking to fill the lacrosse void in his life, Eaton joined the staff at Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton, Mass., as an assistant last season. He also plays tournaments with a club lacrosse team called Bass Massters, which he established with high school buddies from the Westford, Mass., area.

At Springfield, Eaton got his reps on the faceoff X and as short-stick defensive midfielder; while that description might suggest Eaton was a role player, the reality was far from it.

After earning the faceoff job his junior year, Eaton won 61 percent of his challenges, and in his senior season, upped his numbers to 66 percent. The hundred-plus groundballs he chipped in both years were the icing on his two-time Pilgrim League Player of the Year cake.

Eaton credits much of his success to his gym-rat ways, something he hopes to help others with once he earns his personal-training license, which he currently is pursuing alongside coaching.

“I kind of would like to see my career start to go in that way,” Eaton said. “Lacrosse coach, and some kind of training on the side, something along those lines.”

— BRADEN CAMPBELL

Eric Hagarty

Breaking into professional sports coming from an NCAA Division 3 program is no easy task, no matter how decorated the player.

Eric Hagarty was plenty successful as a goalie at Endicott College. He was a three-time first-team all-league selection in The Commonwealth Coast Conference, two-time TCCC Defensive Player of the Year and two-time All-American. The Gulls also won the TCCC championship his senior year.

Since graduation, Hagarty has stayed close to the school he enjoyed so much success at. He is an assistant director of admissions at Endicott as well as an assistant coach for the men’s lacrosse team.

He’s also now gotten a chance to be a professional.

Although Hagarty didn’t get playing time, he did land on an MLL team this year, earning a spot on the Boston Cannons’ practice squad.

“I got to dress for two games against Denver. It was kind of a dream come true,” Hagarty said. “I’ve been a Cannons fan since seventh grade. My best friend growing up, Jake Beebe, is on the team. It was really good to be on the team with him.”

Hagarty is enjoying his time after college. He works at a place near and dear to his heart, enjoys his job and gets to stay close to lacrosse on multiple levels.

“I started playing lacrosse when I was 5 years old. I grew up in Baltimore,” he said. “It’s been my biggest passion. I’ve gotten to travel for lacrosse. I’ve gotten to meet good friends. One of the biggest pieces of me choosing Endicott was through lacrosse. It’s been a guiding light for me.”

— PHILLIP SHORE

Tiffany Manzi

Tiffany Manzi graduated in 2009. (Photo: Quinnipiac University Athletics)

Tiffany Manzi has tried everything she can to scratch the nagging athletic itch since she graduated from Quinnipiac University in 2009. 

With no club lacrosse in her hometown of Agawam, Mass., the 2008 Northeast Conference Player of the Year has tried rec league soccer and 5k runs. She even ran a triathlon.

For Manzi, though, there’s nothing quite like lacrosse. Now, she’s back at it, as the first head coach of the new women’s lacrosse program at Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Mass., where she has worked as an admissions counselor since graduation.

“It’s definitely nice to be outside, back on the field and have that feeling in the fall,” Manzi said. “Getting ready for spring and all that, it’s definitely different. It’s not the same, by any means, but it definitely fills a little bit of the void.”

Establishing the program has been something of an uphill battle, Manzi said. Only a third of her modest group of girls has experience with the game, and it’s been tough getting them all together to practice.

Manzi has done mostly individual work during fall ball, hoping to establish the fundamentals before the team begins its six-game season in the spring.

“We’re starting off small, basically trying to gather a small group of girls, teach them the basics now and get them going and we’ll hopefully get them to come back year after year and get better and better,” Manzi said.

Coaching has proven to be fulfilling so far. While Manzi admits she’d rather be playing herself, she’s exciting about this next chapter of her lacrosse career.

“I’m just trying to get back into the sport,” Manzi said. “I love it, I miss it, and I’m just doing what I can to keep in touch with it.”

— BRADEN CAMPBELL

Rachel Romanowsky

Rachel Romanowsky was the NESCAC Player of the Year during her final season in 2011, the first woman in school history to earn the honor.

While Romanowsky had an impressive career as a Bantam — earning Rookie of the Year in 2008, all-conference First Team three years in a row, and tallying more than 100 points in just her final year at Trinity — playing wasn’t just about the statistics or the awards for her.

“Lacrosse for me wasn’t about the ground balls, the assists, or the game-tying goals,” she said. “Although those moments were all spectacular within the given hour … lacrosse was about the possibility of achieving greatness and sharing the gift of undying passion for something with 11 other teammates on the field.”

Romanowsky doesn’t like to live in the past, so she appreciates her time playing lacrosse for leading her to value competition as much as she does.

“My day-to-day life right now doesn’t require a practice uniform, a trip to the trainers, or a warmup soundtrack,” said Romanowsky, who is U.S. high school and university marketing manager for Jack Wills University Outfitters, where she is focused on brand marketing. “But it still calls for an earnest effort to push creativity and competition.”

Romanowsky isn’t involved in the game right now — though she did celebrate Trinity’s 2012 national championship with the team — but knows lacrosse is something she can’t live without for long. Until that day comes she said she will be on the sidelines in her blue and gold, whenever possible, watching Trinity and loving the game.

— AMANDA PELLEY

Nikki Mackay & Ashley Hansbury

Nikki Mackay had a record-setting career at Curry. (Photo: Sports Pix)

Curry College women’s lacrosse coach Caitlin Roberts has been blessed with an embarrassment of riches during her tenure, none of it more valuable than Nikki Mackay and Ashley Hansbury.

Mackay, who graduated from Curry in 2009, had a career for the record books, racking up 440 points, the most in NCAA Divison 3 history until, three years later, Hansbury broke the mark, finishing with 477 career points. Mackay took Commonwealth Coast Conference Player of the Year honors in 2007; Hansbury won that prize in 2009, ’10 and ’11.

Just as it was before graduation, lacrosse is still a focal point in the lives of both stars.

Hansbury’s lacrosse career didn’t skip a beat, and she transitioned directly from Curry to coaching. Last season, she served as an assistant at Dedham (Mass.) High School, and she recently accepted a position as an assistant at Mount Ida College for the 2013 season.

“It’s really great; I’m actually coaching with one of my really good friends (Nicole Poli of Western New England College), so it’s really working out,” Hansbury said. “I love coaching with her, I love being in the sport still.”

In addition, Hansbury has kept up with her own game, playing in summer leagues and tournaments.

Mackay, meanwhile, also has been active on the lacrosse scene, staying on at Curry as a volunteer coach for a year after she graduated, then teaching youngsters as part of the CroART lacrosse camp.

Like Hansbury, she’s also played some ball of her own.

“I actually play with Curry graduates, and just a bunch of post-college kids,” Mackay said. “There’s always tournaments around Boston, leagues, winter leagues. We usually do summer leagues.”

While Mackay aspires to make a career in lacrosse, that so far hasn’t been an option. She works full-time in sales and customer relations at Tenebraex in Boston, though she is hoping to someday fit the game better into her busy schedule.

Nevertheless, Roberts, who remains in frequent contact with both, is sure that Mackay, like Hansbury, has a bright future in the game.

“When you have so much love and passion for a sport — especially one you excelled at — you can’t give it up,” Roberts said. “They were successful players, and I expect nothing less of them in the future.”

— BRADEN CAMPBELL

Greg Rogowski

In 2009, Greg Rogowski wrapped up a career at Merrimack College by playing in the NCAA Division 2 Final Four, capturing his second consecutive Northeast-10 Player of the Year award and becoming the school’s first four-time All-American.

Months later, Rogowski picked up a job with MJ Engineering in upstate New York, eventually landing a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Technically, I am still employed by MJ Engineering,” Rogowski said. “I am considered a ‘contractor’ for USACE, but I work hand-in-hand with the federal employees and report to the USACE office on Fort Drum every day.”

Rogowski hasn’t put down his stick.

“Lacrosse is and always will be a major part of my life,” Rogowski said. “I have made every effort to play as much as possible.”

During the first summer working with MJ Engineering, Rogowski was introduced to box lacrosse, playing for the Vermont Voyaguers.

“I cannot say enough about how much the Voyaguers program has taught me about the indoor game and what it takes to succeed at the indoor game,” Rogowski said.

From there, Rogowski made the U.S. Indoor national team, and was the leading scorer for the squad during the 2010 and 2010 Bowhunter Cup games.

Rogowski currently plays box lacrosse for the Charlotte (N.C.) Copperheads in the Professional Lacrosse League, and during this past summer, he was called up to play for the Rochester Rattlers in the Major League Lacrosse team’s home opener against the Boston Cannons. Around that, he has stuck with the Voyageurs, too.

In the future, Rogowski hopes to get another shot at both the MLL, the National Lacrosse League — the highest level of pro box lacrosse — and another chance to play with Team USA at the indoor world championships.

“Lacrosse means the world to me,” said Rogowski, who credits his father for developing his interest in the game. “It has opened up so many opportunities not otherwise accessible to a kid from Cohoes, N.Y.”

— SAMMI GORMAN

The VanDerKars

Matt VanDerKar was team MVP in eac of his three collegiate seasons. (Photo: Castleton Athletics)

Matt (2007), James (’08) and Marie VanDerKar (’11) were lacrosse phenoms at Castleton State, and while their ability to play the game of lacrosse was most recognizable, their overwhelming appreciation for each other and their community is something rare and special.

Matt was a three-year starting faceoff midfielder who earned team MVP honors for each of his three seasons at the school. During his three-year run, he amassed 117 goals, more than 50 assists and more than 500 groundballs.

Coach Dave Wiezalis couldn’t say enough about his time coaching Matt and Jimmy and the VanDerKar family as a whole.

“Matt was truly an inspiration to the program, tough-as-nails and hard-working are major understatements,” Wiezalis said. “The VanDerKar name has been synonymous with the attributes of talent, determination and physical/mental toughness.”

While Matt was a standout on the field, younger brother Jimmy controlled the defense during his four years at Castleton.

“Jimmy was a ruthless defenseman who definitely earned the VanDerKar badge of honor,” Wiezalis said. “His role on the field was less glamorous with fewer headlines because he wasn’t posting the goals, assists and the faceoff percentages Matt and Marie tallied, but (he) was more talented in speed, anticipation and groundball acquisition.”

Like her brothers, Marie VanDerKar, who won conference Player of the Year for the NEWLA in 2009 and 2011, also was quite the standout.

According to Castleton coach Mary Kate Scardillo, Marie was the kind of player who could make the game-winning shot or change the momentum of the game.

“Breaking several records and scoring over 200 career goals, Marie made quite the impact on the women’s program,” Scardillo said. “She was a leader who supported her teammates on and off the field and received many accolades by challenging herself and leading by example.”

The VanDerKar family is extremely close and supportive of one another and always attended each other’s games whenever possible, Wiezalis said.

Presently, Matt resides in Vermont and is pursuing carpentry. He is staying involved in lacrosse by playing pickup ball and assisting Burr and Burton Academy with faceoff coaching. Jimmy also is pursuing a career in carpentry but has relocated to Denver, Colo., where he hasn’t had a chance to play much lacrosse. Despite his lack of involvement in the game right now, Jimmy said that lacrosse has given him the “can-do” attitude that gives him the motivation to get things done.

While Matt and Jimmy are in carpentry, Marie is managing a Cajun Restaurant called Café Zydeco in Bozeman, Mont., enjoying management work. Montana is about as far removed from the center of the lacrosse world as possible, but Marie hopes to find a high school coaching job in the spring as she’d like to help grow the game that has meant so much to her.

While the VanDerKar siblings are living in different locations, lacrosse always is something that will bring them together, and their shared experiences at Castleton will bring back family stories — and bragging rights — for generations to come, Matt said.

— AMANDA PELLEY

Kate Sheridan

What does lacrosse mean for Kate Sheridan?

“Effort, commitment and achievement,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan’s effort started as a youth player in Hingham, Mass., and as her level of commitment to the game grew, so did her level of success.

The accolades began at Colby College in 2006, when Sheridan was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year. She was on the team when Colby won its first NESCAC crown in 2008 and captained the team when it won again in 2009. Named NESCAC Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2009, Sheridan etched her name into the history books at Colby.

“Lacrosse has truly taught me what it means to be a team player,” Sheridan said, “and how to work with people of all skills and personality types.”

After graduation, Sheridan worked for Suffolk Construction Co., building an impressive resume serving on the boards for Suffolk Construction’s Giving Circle, the Franciscan Hospital for Children, American Ireland Fund Young Leaders and Colby’s Alumni Council Executive Committee. 

“I am very passionate about giving back to the community,” Sheridan said, “something my parents instilled in me from a very young age that was reinforced at my life at Colby.”

Sheridan has not put lacrosse far behind her. In 2009, she traveled to Australia to play club lacrosse, though she says nothing can replace the feel of being part of a collegiate squad.

“I miss the team aspect,” Sheridan said. “Despite the fact I have played lacrosse after graduating, it is never quite the same as playing with the same group of girls who you train with day in, day out.”

“Never be satisfied,” Sheridan advises. “There is always room for improvement. … (That simple concept) really motivated me to push myself throughout my lacrosse career, and now even motivates me in my professional career.”

— SAMMI GORMAN

 This article originally appeared in the November-December 2012 issue of New England Lacrosse Journal. 

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