International Men

June 8, 2012

Dispatch from Lacrosse Across the Pond in Scotland

Former Haverford player re-discovered the game

by Alex Guy |

The University of Edinburgh competes in the Scottish division of the British Universities & Colleges Sport, a body akin to the NCAA.
Image courtesy Alex Guy

The road from Edinburgh to Aberdeen is a winding route that slices through villages once inhabited by the likes of William Wallace. Most foreigners make this three-hour trek up Scotland's coast for a posed snapshot in front of a castle or a pit stop at a historic landmark. But I'm on a bus full of college kids headed to the Granite City for a lacrosse game.

Coming to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, I wasn't really sure what to expect in terms of lacrosse. In my four years at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, teammates and I had been consumed by the sport we loved. Most of us had played since we were 7 or 8. Thoroughly burned out at times, I was ready to move on from lacrosse after graduation in spring 2010.

But, truth be told, just a year removed from college, I missed it. When I decided to return to graduate school at Edinburgh, I was thrilled that I would get to play again. Still, I walked up to my first practice this September in my new surrounding with a little bit of skepticism and a lot of excitement.

What I found when I finally strapped on a helmet again was a rag-tag group of kids who loved the game of lacrosse. They'd come from different backgrounds and hometowns, but the common bond that had been forged with the Haverford team felt so similar to this new group. I was alive in every line drill, shot, and slide I'd brought with me across the Atlantic.

I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but this was what I missed about the game.

University of Edinburgh competes in the Scottish division of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), an all-encompassing body akin to the NCAA. Our team competes against squads from the Universities of Glasgow, Stirling, and Aberdeen. Though the competition varies, but lacrosse is thriving in a place known more for rugby and soccer.

Jonny Davis, a third-year student at Edinburgh and a teammate of mine knows first hand about the expansion of game in Scotland. A member of the U-19 Scottish national team, Davis is getting ready for the FIL Under-19 World Championships, July 12-21 in Turku, Finland.

I asked Jonny what it would be like if his team faced the American team there.

"It would be great simply for the experience," Davis said. "That's the one thing we miss out on up here. You look on that [U.S.] roster, every player is headed to a great school to play lacrosse."

Davis is right about that. Team USA is populated with players recruited to Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Harvard, among others.

"In Scotland and the rest of the UK, the desire is there, but we don't get the competition you have in the States. That's what I'm looking forward to in Finland," Davis said

While Davis endures intense training in preparation for this summer, many of my other teammates got involved in lacrosse for a change of pace from the games they grew up playing. Scott Clayson, another third-year had been an avid rugby player before coming to Edinburgh and Valentino Gomez used to score goals on the soccer field.

More interesting still, are the several other Americans on the team. Jack Rau and Mike Carley, natives of California and New York, respectively, enjoyed the opportunity to continue playing lacrosse after high school. Nick Moreau, a fellow graduate student from Connecticut spent last year working as Lacrosse Development Officer for English Lacrosse Association and sees the United Kingdom as a potential arena of significant growth of the sport.

"My experience in England and Scotland makes me very excited about the possibility of lacrosse catching on outside of America and Canada," Moreau said.

As we walked off the bus in Aberdeen, the field was in the central part of a campus that was founded in 1495. A light drizzle typical of Scottish winter blew in from the sea at the opening face off. I'm not sure exactly how many lacrosse games have been played adjacent to King's College in Aberdeen, but I would bet there will be a lot more to come.

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