Why I Love The Utah Lacrosse Community
A Wednesday newsletter? I know, I know… I try to keep your inbox at zero and I was going to add this post to a regular Monday newsletter, but my wife let me know that it’s too important to be in one of those and should stand on its own. It’s a little different than Monday's style of newsletters and I hope this doesn’t come across as name-dropping or that I’m popular in any way because I’m neither of those things. I just happen to meet a lot of people who have made an impression on me for the better which I’m very grateful for. I wanted to take some time to talk about the interactions I had on the sidelines last week, so just bear with me for a minute or two.
On Friday, as I was sitting in the Sugarhouse Wendy’s parking lot at 10:00 pm, I reflected on six games I had been to that week. To be honest, it was not my first time in that Wendy’s parking lot that late at night as I spent many summer nights there as a teenager. A sense of gratutide overtook me and it made me very, very grateful to think about the people I had interacted with at those games. Almost all of the interactions wouldn’t have happened without the common bond of lacrosse. The short version of this is that YOU are the reason I love this community. It’s the people who show up to coach, to play, to ref, to run the scoreboard, etc, that make this community special.
On Tuesday, I went to the Syracuse @ Farmington game where I have many friends and have spent a fair amount of time around the program. It was great to see all the Farmington coaches, players, admins and friends. I looked at the Syracuse sideline and recognized a familiar face, Kendall Jackson, who had played on the Utah club team when I was the SID. I didn’t get a chance to say hi in person, but we caught up over social media and I was thrilled to learn he’s back in the game coaching.
After that game, I went to the Bingham @ Bountiful game. I was standing near the stairs and had a little bit of tunnel vision due to my hood and hat being up since it was raining. After a few minutes, I looked to my right and saw Adam Ghitelman and Brent Adams who had just done a clinic with the Bountiful youth. We chatted for a half then I wandered down to the far end of the field. On the Bingham sideline, I spot a co-worker, Jordan Brough, who I knew went to Bingham, but didn’t know he was coaching this year. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. At halftime, I visited with Allen Clemons, who does great a great job behind the public address system (amongst other things) at the Bountiful games. We’ve crossed paths several times and I’ve always enjoyed talking to Allen. After the thrilling Bountiful win, I caught up with a Bountiful assistant coach named Britt Cornaby. Britt played lacrosse at BYU and many moons ago, I met Britt at the food court at Fashion Place mall because I was running Utah Lacrosse News and he wanted to start Idaho Lacrosse News (which he did). We became friends and would chat now and then. It’s good to see him back in Utah and coaching again!
On Thursday, I went to the Davis @ Farmington girls game. One of my best friends’ daughters plays for Farmington and he wanted pics to hang in his office. Two other Davis families I love and respect have daughters on the Davis team so it was fun to get pics for them too. Another photographer who I met last year showed up and we talk about the intricacies of girls’ lacrosse. His name is Roger Tuttle and he’s a photographer for the Davis Journal but is also a professor in the Communications department at the University of Utah which is where I spent a lot of time in my twenties, getting my degree.
On Friday, I went to three games thanks to staggered start times. The first game was UMA @ Juan Diego. The Juan Diego poles looked great and Hunter Keller, UMA Goalie, made several great saves. While there, I ran into Bob McLellan who has taken pictures of thousands of lacrosse games throughout the state. It was good to see him as I hadn’t in maybe two or three years. We’ve been to a ton of games together and shared many sidelines and stories.
I then ran over to the Park City @ Corner Canyon game. I walked on the field and the first person I saw was Chris Baer who has played/coached in the state for a long time including last year at Wasatch. It was good catching up with him and Park City assistant Mike Chao who I recently became acquainted with. As I was walking to the other side of the field, I felt my pocket buzz with a text from my niece who happened to be at the game as well. I was talking with her on the track when Coach Ika came over and said, ‘You’re not allowed to be here,’ which of course sent my niece running away scared while Coach Ika and I laughed. My niece and I stayed on the track and chatted, because, you know, Coach Ika was just teasing. You know the lacrosse community is tight if you can randomly run into your niece at a game. After a bit, I was heading to the other side of the field when a gentleman stopped me to ask who had scored goals. I told him, but his face looked VERY familiar. After a while, it hit me. It was Casey Rich who had spent time at Syracuse University, BYU, and SVU and is back in Utah working with True Lacrosse. It was great to chat with him and Steve Ricci. After the game, I chatted with my former teammate and friend, and the reason any of my lacrosse ventures exist, Walker Bateman. I caught up with Jeff Brzoska, Coach Ika and the rest of the Chargers staff as well a few very gracious parents. Walking out I noticed the Park City bus hadn’t left so I waited by the locker room to talk with Park City Head Coach Mike Persky. He was the last one out of the locker room and the last one on the bus.
I then headed to Timpview @ Highland. My last lacrosse-playing nephew and possibly/probably the last Highland Ram in the Haslam family plays for Highland so I wanted to see what he and Coach Blaney had dialed up this year. My parents met in Sophomore English class in 1965 at Highland. My four siblings, myself, and three nephews have all gone to Highland. I was walking down the stadium bleachers, which haven’t changed in years, and I ran into an old teammate. It was great to see him and we chatted for a bit before I found my brother and his family and enjoyed the last quarter or so. Walking out I ran into Taylor Redd, Timpview Head Coach, who is always kind and willing to chat.
Saturday was no different as I traveled to Provo to watch BYU take on Concordia-Irvine. As my wife and I made the turn onto 2230 North, my wife said, “I remember these fields. I’ve never been so cold in my life.” For some reason, the coldest I’ve ever been at a lacrosse game was at these fields, but it was a beautiful day for lacrosse and not cold at all. As I unpacked my camera, Tom Campbell said hello and we talked about the Utah/Georgetown game. Tom has been involved with lacrosse in Utah longer than some of us have lived and is a huge reason for the success at BYU (and Alta for that matter) over the years, on and off the field. I also ran into Mark Stout who has also been involved with lacrosse in Utah since the 1980s, including selling STX sticks out of his car trunk at games. He wanted to make sure any pictures I took of him took off 10 pounds but we all know it adds 10 pounds. Sorry Mark.
Of course, it was always great to see Coach Schneck who I recorded a great podcast with a couple of weeks ago. Coach Schneck has supported me since Day 1 and I really appreciate that. I caught up with Caleb Brown who all of you probably know as cbreeze. We chatted about camera lenses and high school lacrosse - because he probably goes to more games than I do. I also ran into Lincoln Robinson who played goalie at Highland last year and is friends with my nephews. As I was leaving the game, I ran into Mykel Severson who is the BYU photographer and has shot thousands of lacrosse games as she has followed her son, Chris Severson, from Bingham to BYU. She submitted a ton of photos and stories for the old Utah Lacrosse News which I’m grateful for.
As I look over this list of people who I interacted with in a stint of just 5 days, it spans from Syracuse to Park City to Provo and everywhere in between. It’s people who are older than me, younger than me and people who are certainly wiser than me. It includes close friends, family and even new acquaintances. I want you to know that it is all because of the great sport of lacrosse. Would I see my neighbors and family outside of lacrosse? Sure. But even lacrosse can bring families and neighbors closer together.
I’m grateful for the lacrosse community in Utah and I hope you are too. Just like anything in life, you get back what you give so I encourage you to get out and give back to the community and it will give back to you. The point of this isn’t to show how many people I know, it’s to show that the lacrosse community is special.
I’ll be at the Utah v. Mercer game on Saturday and I hope you come say hi. If we haven’t met, please introduce yourself!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you, it’s likely you love this community too so please leave your reasons in the comments!
— Tim Haslam