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Baltimore Lacrosse and that Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Look

Photo: Me covering UNC's great player Pat Welsh in a 1985 game in the Carrier Dome. As my southern wife says when she sees old photos like this one, "who child, check out those booty shorts!" That’s what we wore back then, and you could not tell us that we were not cool. But now they really look embarrassing.

When I woke up on the morning on what would be my first SU lacrosse game, I still remember the feelings--I felt very nervous on that March day in 1984. But the feeling did not stop me from downing some great hotcakes at the hotel During the bus ride to Loyola College field in suburban Baltimore, we all had our game faces. When the bus pulled up to the field I was stunned to see throngs of Baltimore’s lacrosse enthusiast, most of them wearing Carolina and Hopkins blue. They came licking their chops in anticipation of a # 3 UNC upset of us #1 SU at home in Baltimore. Most of the UNC and Hopkins players then and now came from elite Baltimore prep schools in the Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA). High schools like Loyola, Calvert Hall, Boys Latin, St Paul’s, and Gilman. So Loyola College in Baltimore served as a home game by proxy for the MSA players on the Tar Heels and they had plenty of them such as All Americans Joey Sievold, who I covered that day, and Tom Hause. When I stepped off the bus in my SU Jersey, highly revered helmet, and my lacrosse sticks locked and loaded for action, the MSA lacrosse community looked surprised. They had the look Spencer Tracy had when he met Sidney Poitier for the first time as his future son in law in that old movie classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I wish I had a camera that day in Baltimore. You see lacrosse played at the top level for MSA folk in my observation (I played for the now defunct Maryland Lacrosse Club in the 90s), is like having a membership to an exclusive country club. Perhaps playing for the #1 ranked division 1 college lacrosse team in the country is worth more for MSA players and parents because everybody wants in or an association but only a select few get that privilege. Historically Baltimore County like Westchester County has been a very segregated place; and that has not changed much over the years. Before the 1970s, race segregated the county; today class segregates it—along with red lining in the real estate and mortgage banking industries. In addition, in contrast to New York State, the best high school players in Maryland come from elite private schools whose tuition are out of the reach of most working class blacks and whites. So when teammate Matt Holman and I got off the bus that day at Loyola to play UNC, we turned heads. I’ve seen similar looks of surprise on the faces of both black and white students when they enter my class room on the first day of classes at Marist College.

On the Lacrosse Field and in Life: "fake it until you make it"

Traveling with Eli Part II and Native American Culinary Culture