For a kid with two little brothers, a big backyard with an old net, and friends always stopping by to shoot on goal, lacrosse becomes a way of life. Mike Bocklet would take turns as the goalie with the rest of his makeshift neighborhood lacrosse team, as they peppered the net with tennis balls, working on their new moves. The Bocklet backyard was a fun environment, with kids playing a lot of pipes and other small ball games. It was their first training grounds without even knowing it.
It instilled a dedication to the game that led all three of the Bocklet brothers to chase the highest levels. It started with Mike and four great years at Fairfield, where he would serve as a senior captain and catch notice from the Tewaaraton watch list. Carving the way, he then was drafted by the Long Island Lizards in the 2007 MLL Supplemental Draft. Pro lacrosse seemed like the next logical step for the eldest Bocklet and training camp appeared to go really well. Told he made the roster, Mike was on the way to his first game when he found out returning NLL players bumped him down and his spot was gone.
At that point the pro career moved to the backburner. Discouraged, but not done, he was still looking to make an impact in the game. Bocklet took assistant coaching jobs at Cortland and Dartmouth, before earning the opportunity to found his own varsity lacrosse program just miles from home at Purchase College. To fill the timeline, this was now six years after his draft selection. Pro lacrosse seemed far from focus as he was tasked with building a NCAA DIII lacrosse program from scratch.
Now ready to start their first year of NCAA action on March 1st, things have grown more hectic as Purchase prepares to compete. When he first started, Bocklet only had nine or ten guys to run mini training sessions with, where he would strap up the pads and teach by doing. That’s the method he, and his assistant, stuck with last season while the team competed in the MCLA to get off the ground. His team responded positively to the lead by example motivation and it began to create a culture that guys wanted to be a part of. Now that the team has built up, Bocklet can start to take a different approach to running his program.
So he was a college lacrosse coach nearing thirty, when does the pro career come in? While Mike stepped away from the league, brother Matt broke into the MLL in 2008, followed by Chris in 2012.
After Mike’s two little brothers won a Steinfeld Cup together in 2010 with the Denver Outlaws, he knew he wanted one too.
The following winter he took a ski trip to Colorado with a group of lacrosse buddies and a few happened to play for the Outlaws. It was on his radar that tryouts were that weekend and he had gear, so talking him into it wasn’t that hard.
Is it ever too late to start playing professional lacrosse? Mike Bocklet wasn’t going to find out. He earned his spot on the roster. Thirty years old, eight years older than the average rookie, with an infant at home, and a budding program demanding his attention. It was time to prove himself all over again, because until his cleats made it inside the lines at his first game, he was was still just some practice squad guy. Mike responded to the call by taking every last rep, leaving nothing behind at practice, and making a statement that he belongs in Outlaws Orange.
Right away the locker room was a comfortable environment since he had former teammates like Jesse Schwartzman and his brothers, as well as other friends to make him feel like home. But he was still a rookie. Just like at Purchase, he had nothing but the keys and it was up to him to drive. 27 games, 67 goals and 35 assists later, it looks like the oldest member of the Denver Outlaws has earned his stripes.
But what comes first? Coaching or being a pro? It turns out the 2017 MLL season only overlaps by one game right now, so that is all he has to work out. It forces him to miss the training camps in Denver, but luckily a shared event with the Lizards is a short drive away for Mike on an offday. He believes his role allows for a lot more freedom than a lot of his teammates coaching Division I.
What’s the goal here? Mike wants to play lacrosse until he just can’t, for whatever reason. He’s healthy and enjoying the ride, with goals beyond just winning another championship. For Mike the key to it all is waking up early, getting a workout and reps in before the day gets started. Also, having a wife that’s willing to back him through it all is probably the real answer. Bocklet puts a lot of emphasis on the support from his wife, able to watch their two daughters, both under three, while he plays for a team that makes every weekend seem like a road game.
Because lacrosse has never about making a full-time living for guys like Mike, the game will forever pay them back. That’s why it made sense for him to work with Powell, a small company from his home state. Longtime friend Dan Hardy reached out about coming on board as a Powell athlete and after checking out the gear and hearing the brand’s vision, he was in. Bocklet is dedicated to making lacrosse fun, on and off of the field, and he feel that’s where Powell fits in perfectly. Working together to build the foundations of the the game the right way and enjoying the time while doing it.