Sep 20 2011

The Circle of (Lacrosse) Life

I graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills during 1977. My only thoughts at that time probably were about playing lacrosse in college, having the grades and talent to receive a scholarship, and yes, girls. It was the simple life of a teenager on Long Island!

I returned to Half Hollow Hills a few months ago. Older, wiser and now able to share my success with today’s local teens, I was honored to present the inaugural James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award.

The first recipient, Matt Graziano, is exceptional. Matt is a six-foot-three-inch midfielder from Melville who now will play lacrosse at SUNY Albany. At Half Hallow Hills, he competed in lacrosse, soccer and basketball.

Matt played varsity lacrosse for three years. As a junior and senior he ran first midfield. During his senior season, he was team captain and scored 39 points, including 16 assists that tied him for second highest on the team. Considered by his coach to be a “human clearing machine,” once he had the ball on a clear he often would run out of the defensive end or make the critical pass to the open player up field.

Matt is the perfect recipient for this first award. In many ways, he reminds me of myself on the lacrosse field at that age — a workhorse during games to succeed offensively when matched against excellent opposing players. Matt has the athletic ability to excel at the Division I level at Albany. To grasp the next rung, he must apply himself and push himself.

The school’s coaches, especially lacrosse Varsity Head Coach Gordon Hodgson, have been outstanding when communicating to players and parents about the benefits of playing high school athletics. They explain to them that hard work and dedication is required to be successful on and off the field.

Much of my success in business is attributable to the lessons I learned on the sports field. In recent years, I’ve been able to give back to the college where I was an All-American lacrosse player by establishing programs that support Hofstra University students and student athletes. Now, I am grateful that I can do the same at my former high school.

The opportunity at Half Hollow Hills to support my school, my sport and Long Island teen athletes was made possible by school trustee Eric Geringswald, the administration, the coaches and the parents. It is good to be back in the game, especially where it all started for me.

Jim

Jul 19 2011

Once Competitors And Now Collaborators

I hadn’t seen Tom Rotanz for more than 30 years. We used to glare at each other through the cages on our lacrosse helmets as we faced off against each other in high school and then in college.

Tom was an All-American player at Ward Melville High School in Setauket. His team was 1976 Long Island Champions and 1977 New York State runners-up. He also played at Suffolk County Community College and then Adelphi University. He was an All-American defenseman during his entire college career.

When I played against Tom, the competition always was fierce. But we always had respect and admiration for each other on and off the field. That combination of fierce competition along with the respect and admiration for a player on the other team lasts a lifetime and carries over to other aspects of life long after we leave the field.

Even though Long Island isn’t that huge, in all these years our paths did not cross. We travelled in different circles – Tom became a fabulous teacher and lacrosse coach while I concentrated on growing The Whitmore Group.

That changed a few years ago, when I attended my nephew’s high school lacrosse game. Tom was scouting my nephew’s team.

After renewing our friendship and reliving some of our head-to-head battles from the field, I learned more about Tom’s passion for coaching young lacrosse players. He learned about my business success and my continued interest to help today’s high school and college athletes. Now, through a new training product – The Power Shaft™ – that he designed, we finally have the opportunity to play on the same team.

The Power Shaft (www.ThePowerShaft.com) allows lacrosse players to train and perfect their game any time of the day and any time of the year in the yard, in the park, or on the practice field. With my connections on the marketing side, more of you soon will learn about this product and how it will help your budding athletes improve their game.

There is a time for everything. This, I strongly believe, was the time for Tom and me to reconnect. Finally, after 30 years, we are wearing the same jersey, and it is today’s young lacrosse players who will have opportunities that we never had or never thought were possible.