February 25, 2009

Hood Does it for Dan

By Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

The celebration after Hood won its first game on Tuesday was five years in the making. Shortly after they left the field, the team went to a nearby hospital to share the win with a teammate.
© Charlie Covell - hoodphotodiary.com

Dan Rocker really should have been there.

He should have been the guy the rest of the Hood team was jumping on after the Blazers picked up the first win in the program's five-year history on Tuesday against Gwynedd-Mercy.

Rocker, a sophomore captain, had endured the 2008 campaign, when the squad posted an 0-17 record. And after being at his starting LSM spot for the Blazers' opening game of the season - a 20-7 loss to Virginia Wesleyan - Rocker had walked of the field 18 consecutive times without raising his stick in victory.

With Gwynedd-Mercy, a first-year program, about to visit for Hood's next legitimate chance to break the streak, which stood at 48 consecutive losses, Rocker got sick.

"They don't know what's wrong with him," said Curt Foxx, who is in his first year as the head coach of Hood after two years as an assistant. "He has a 105-degree fever, his internal organs are starting and stopping, and we don't know what happened. They don't know what it is."

Playing with the uncertainty of Rocker's condition, the Blazers raced out to a 6-2 start over Gwynedd-Mercy at halftime and then poured it on in the third, ballooning the lead to 10-3. Even with the big lead, the coaches and players weren't taking anything for granted.

"We've played first-year programs before, so it's not like we said, ‘Oh they're a first-year team, let's go get them,'" said Foxx. "We had a 5-1 lead on Marywood last year and they ended up beating us, 12-8. We've been in close games; we just haven't finished or played four full quarters. Fortunately, the kids finished this time."

Even though Gwynedd-Mercy scored four of the last six goals of the game, the final whistle blew with Hood leading on the scoreboard for the first time ever, 12-7.

"They were in shock. They didn't know what to do because it had been so long," said Foxx of his players. "The juniors hadn't won in three years. The sophomores just went through an 0-17 season."

Fortunately, the freshmen, who were just 0-1 in their Hood careers to that point, remembered what to do and created a pile.

Well, it was kind of a pile. The Blazers only have 26 players on the roster, including no seniors and three juniors, so it was more of a group hug. With four players getting hurt during the game, Foxx was down to 21 healthy bodies, so he was hoping nobody was hurt in the scrum.

But he certainly wasn't about to spoil the moment.

"I was really proud of them and excited for them," said Foxx. "These kids have worked hard, they are a great bunch of kids, and they do everything right. They all have good grades and they act right on campus. It's good to see kids like that finally get what they deserve."

As soon as the initial jubilation wore off, one by one, the players on the team realized what they needed to do next. The entire team made their way to a nearby hospital and crammed into Rocker's room in the Intensive Care Unit and collectively handed their captain the game ball.

"We usually don't give out game balls because it's a team thing, but I did that day," said Foxx. "It was a pretty heartfelt moment because he wanted to be out there more than anything."

Make that two wins for Hood on Tuesday.

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