July 24, 2014

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His Space: Evan's Essence

Why a fifth-grade goalie from California stood out among droves of Hopkins-Maryland spectators

By Bill Tanton | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

This is an age of a great lacrosse awakening in America, writes Bill Tanton. 

Mayor Bloomberg was there. So was Bill Belichick. So was Evan Miner.

Evan Miner?

Of the three, Evan Miner's appearance at the Johns Hopkins-Maryland lacrosse game was the most surprising — and maybe the most significant. He certainly was the busiest of the three out-of-towners on that lacrosse weekend in Baltimore.

Michael Bloomberg, actually the former mayor of New York, is no stranger at Homewood Field. He's a Johns Hopkins alum. He studied engineering there and graduated in 1964. He was at the game as part of his class' 50th reunion. Bloomberg has gifted the university more than a billion (with a "b") dollars.

And this was by no means the first Johns Hopkins lacrosse game for Belichick, the sometimes aloof coach of the NFL's New England Patriots. He and Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala are best friends. That relationship puzzles some lacrosse people, but it is sincere. The two attend each other's games when their schedules permit. Pietramala was on the sideline with Tom Brady and the Pats when they played against the Ravens in Baltimore last season.

But what about this Evan Miner guy? Well, he's 10 years old, he's in fifth grade and this was his first visit to Johns Hopkins. In fact, it was the first time he had ever attended a major lacrosse game. Evan traveled there from his home in Manhattan Beach in Southern California.

Evan was among the nearly 10,000 fans and hordes of little guys swarming around me in the stands that April 12 as Johns Hopkins defeated Maryland 11-6. They were wearing jerseys that said Baltimore Crabs, Long Island Express, Annapolis Hawks and Looney's. Hundreds of them were there to play in a junior tournament. Evan played eight games that weekend.

"Hurry, we have a game in an hour and 20 minutes," a mom told one little laxer as they exited the stands late in the first half. The kid, panicked, asked, "Twenty minutes?" The mother told him the actual time, but that didn't slow him down.

The boys who had come from Manhattan Beach were the charges of Scott Hochstadt, a former Maryland lacrosse captain who has been living on the West Coast since his college days promoting and teaching lacrosse to youngsters like Evan Miner.

"Evan is one of the best fifth-grade goalies I've ever seen," Hochstadt said.

Hochstadt's protégés were thrilled, naturally, that on game day he was able to take them on visits to the Maryland team's locker room and to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

This is why I think Evan Miner's presence that day was so meaningful. We live in a time now when a fifth-grade goalie in California and many of his friends will travel 3,000 miles to the East Coast for a lacrosse experience.

Do you wonder why there's so much balance in college lacrosse today? Or why some first-year teams did so well in 2014? It's because the players are so numerous and they can come from anywhere, including Manhattan Beach, Calif.

This is an age of a great lacrosse awakening in America. US Lacrosse, the sport's national governing body, accounted for 750,000 people playing the game in its latest participation survey. Our mission since forming in 1998 has been to promote and grow the sport responsively and responsibly.

Looks to me like we're doing OK. 

This column originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse today to begin your subscription!


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