September 29th, 2018 will always hold a very special place in my heart and it’s a date that I will now never forget.
I left my house in Syracuse, NY on Thursday September 27th in route to Baltimore, Maryland with my wife Lee Marie and my three kids; Piper 7, Kingston 5 and Roman 22 months. We took off around 6:00pm in hopes that the kids would get some sleep – um, they didn’t sleep at all but the trip ended up being pretty good. Snacks, dvd’s, car games, funny conversations and several pit stops did the trick. We ended up pulling into the Residence Inn by Marriott Hunt Valley at 11:30pm. Put the kids down and I waited to watch the Ryder Cup at 2:30am – love golf and love USA team sports so it was well worth staying up for.
On the 28th we brought the kids to the Aquarium in Inner Harbor. After so many lacrosse trips to Baltimore over the years it’s crazy to think that this was my first time there. It was awesome – if you haven’t been; you need to go! The kids loved it –Fish, sharks, octopus, oh my! We followed up an awesome Aquarium stop by hitting Capitan James Seafood. Cool restaurant in a ship that has some fresh and delicious crab. Insider knowledge – there are some crab options they don’t put on the menu. Be sure to ask your server about any crab options that might not be on the menu! Finished up and headed back to the hotel and let the kids swim at the pool for a bit. Dinner and drinks at the Oregon Grille – want to talk about awesome. Not sure if this is known, but I’m a foodie, always have been. Side story on this; the host was the brother of Bob Shriver (long time and legendary coach at Boys Latin HS in Baltimore). If you say the phrase “this is a small world”; it gets even smaller when you talk about lacrosse. So that was a wrap to my Friday.
The Big Day – September 29th! Woke up and started getting a little nervous about my speech. Not the delivery by any means – I’ve done a ton of public speaking and it’s what I went to Syracuse for so this part doesn’t bother me at all. I wanted to re-read the speech that I had written earlier in the week and make sure that I wasn’t going to miss acknowledging anyone later on that evening. US Lacrosse gives instructions to keep your speech to 750 words. When I was writing a paper for school 750 words seemed like a lot (haha) but when you write a speech about thanking people that played a part in my lacrosse journey it was extremely difficult. There are a lot of people that play such a big role in my life that lead me to the Saturday night honor of being inducted to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. After I got done with a few practice runs my wife and I took the kids to the Maryland Zoo – honestly, just okay. I prefer the Wild in Chittenango, NY and would be okay if we don’t make it back to this Zoo again. Kids had fun and that’s all that matters! After the Zoo we went to Wegman’s for lunch – the greatest grocery store in the history of grocery stores. Met my brother Jason and his family. They had just flown in from Georgia – his support has meant so much to me over the years. A business wizard that has provided a lot of guidance to me over that past 3+ years of getting Powell Lacrosse up and rocking. Left Wegman’s and headed back to the hotel for a shower / shave and threw the tux on. Few more run-throughs of the speech and it was time to head over to the Hall of Fame induction.
What an evening. Got picked up at the hotel from my HS coach and good friend Coach Ventiquattro. We arrived the Grande Lodge at 4:30pm. Photos followed with my fellow Hall of Fame inductees and an awesome conversation with some of the games all time greats. Kevin Cassesse and I spoke a lot – we discussed a reunion get together for our 2010 World Championship team. As I said in my speech, I’ve had no greater honor in the sport than being the co-Capitan with Kevin and winning gold with this squad.
I was so honored to be joined by the many that showed to support me on this special evening. My parents, my brothers, my #1 professor from Syracuse Dr. Marlene Blumin, my good friend Pete Ruggerio, Coach V, Coach Roy Simmons Jr. & RS3, my in-laws, some good friends and of course my wife and kids.
You will be able to read through my speech to see what I spoke about – but to break it down quickly and the way that I think about it now; No one makes it to the Hall of Fame without great teammates, friends, coaches, family and support. That is my story. I’m now able to say that I’m a Hall of Famer because of these people. Combine that with a strong work ethic that was passed down to me by my dad that worked at a paper mill for 35+ years and a competitiveness that can’t be taught, but only born with! I guess you can learn to become a bit more competitive over the years when you have brothers that were born with the same.
It was a very special trip and the evening of the 29th was simply awesome.
Thanks so much to all the people that reached out to me leading up to the induction. I got some beautiful letters and messages from many of my teammates and friends. I’m so thankful for the friendships I’ve made because of this sport!
– Hall of Fame 2018
Thank you for the nice things that you had to say about me in those clips – very nice – that’s awesome! I’m standing here today because of a lot of people and the impact they had on me. Coach V, you’ve had a big influence on me and my athletics. Competition and Dreaming Big are at the top. Being a 9 year old, standing up to bat at West Carthage Elementary; thinking and playing as if it was the world series. Thank you for always making the moment (my moment) feel important. I appreciate you being by my side and inducting me to the HOF Class of 2018.
Congratulations to my fellow Hall of Fame inductees.
Thank you US Lacrosse
Thank you to all in attendance for your support of the 2018 Class.
Special thanks to my family, coaches, teammates and friends. This is such a huge honor for me! I never could have imagined that my backyard games with my brothers, my years playing at Carthage, my unbelievable 4 year run with the Orange, to my professional career in the NLL and Major League Lacrosse would bring me to this stage tonight. Of course at the very top of the list is my memories playing for team USA in 2006 with my brothers, and winning the championship in 2010; I’ve had no greater honor in the sport than winning gold in 2010 as a co-captain along with my fellow Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Cassese.
I stand in front of you tonight because of the influences that people have had on me over the year and during the journey of lacrosse I just mentioned.
Backyard and Childhood
Mom and Dad,
My childhood and the memories were amazing because of you.
Mom, your support has been huge. Whether it was getting a ride to a sporting event, fixing an ice pack for a bruise, preparing meals, cheering on my team, or being there to cheer me up when I was down – you were always there for me and I appreciate it very much.
Dad, you are the hardest working man I know. I’ve never seen anything like it – because of you, and watching you, I developed a strong work ethic – I didn’t and still don’t know any other way to tackle anything in my life without this mind set because of you.
CP & MP,
Not because of any other reason do I stand in front of this room tonight than the both of you.
CP you always wanted to the best. You competed like it always; and I wanted to be you – scoring my 287th point at Syracuse to tie the all time school scoring record with you was my highest of all highs. Felt that I caught you, finally after all those years of trying.
MP, man you are just an all around great person. You competed so hard, you were an amazing athlete and pushed me to be better. Thank you – I’ve always appreciated and respected your friendship so much.
To my brother Jason – Thanks for your continued guidance.
To my Sister Gretchen – Thanks for being a great big sister.
To my brother Mason – U show me that life should always be fun.
Getting recruited to play at Syracuse for Roy Simmons Jr. was an amazing part of my lacrosse journey – Coach Simmons Jr., I take from you so many memories. A man that knows a little something about everything. It’s a blank canvas, go create!
Coach Desko – thanks for your support.
Coach Simmons 3 – you showed me that it is possible to be a buddy and a coach at the same time.
Man did I have some good times and even better teammates. We all know that this sport is the ultimate team game. I don’t stand up here without having the amazing teammates in mind that I’ve had over the years. You guys know who you are – thank you!
2010 World Champions
Coach Pressler – Let me tell you something right now. What you did with the 2010 world team….the way you lead will forever have an impact on me. I now look at the flag different, I think about the red, white & blue different – I have more pride in our country since 2010 than I ever had before. You know how to build a team – I will use lessons that I learned from you for the rest of my life.
As I know look forward, I’m a 40 year Hall of Fame Lacrosse Player, excited for the years ahead. Some additional folks that I’d like to mention because they all have been very special to me and played a big role in my lacrosse journey.
Pete and Lisa Ruggerio
Coach Derek Kennan
Jason / Josh Coffman
My in-laws Marlene and Tom
God rest his sole – my good friend Timmy Hughes
I honestly could stand up here and go on and on about the different folks I’d like to mention right now. There have been so many important people involved in my journey to the Hall of Fame – that’s what so great about this beautiful sport we all love!
My Family & Close
My seven year old daughter that is here tonight. Your determination is so powerful and because of that you will do big things
I love how you have always only wanted to be you. I’ve said to you ….Hi Bob the Builder, how you doing super man – you response is, I’m not Bob the builder – I’m not super man…..I’m Kingston. Just be you buddy – love it.
My 22 month old that is not here tonight. He has thigh that are bigger than mine already – He’s a baby rhino!
In closing, my wife Lee Marie is an amazing woman. An amazing mother to our kids. I love her so much. We just celebrated our 11th anniversary. Our marriage and love for each other is rock solid. She is someone that always has my back and has always encouraged me to be the best I can be.
I’m so honored by the recognition – I’m so proud and humbled.
Thank you again US Lacrosse!
I’m proud to join all members of the Hall of Fame – especially my brother Casey. MP, I’ll save a spot for you my man.
Thank you to my family and friends for attending tonight.