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US Lacrosse Vets Give Back to the Game – Help German Team at World Games
The US lacrosse community is a tight-knit group. Almost everyone who has played or coached the game welcomes the opportunity to stay involved in the sport by helping to improve the level of competition and encouraging young players to excel.
At this year’s World Lacrosse Championship in Great Britain, the German men’s team benefited greatly from several American lacrosse veterans with family ties to the country. Their involvement helped the team achieve an exciting fifth place finish. They also fueled the growth of the game throughout Europe and Asia and helped instill lacrosse camaraderie among a new generation of players.
The Germany team was coached by Jack Kaley, who had spent much of his life playing or coaching the game in New York. He played at Hofstra University from 1957 to 1960 and then coached at Long Island’s East Meadow High School for 18 years. Kaley spent 17 years, until 2009, at the New York Institute of Technology, where he won four national championships and the best winning percentage of any Division I and II school.
“At this point in my life, I’m the Von Steuben of America going to Germany,” Kaley said, referring to Baron Von Steuben, a military officer from the German-dominated area known as Prussia who came to America to help win. revolutionary war. “Instead of coming here to fight for independence, I went there to help train lacrosse players and raise the bar in international competition.”
Lacrosse in Germany is still in its infancy. This year’s team consisted of players between the ages of 19 and 34. In an ever-expanding tournament that featured 30 teams, they competed against the best players in the world.
“Lacrosse is not only the fastest growing game in America,” said Kaley, “it’s the fastest growing game in the world. Hong Kong, Korea and Japan were new to the tournament this year.”
Long Island supports German lacrosse
All of the support for the German team this year had Hofstra ties. Assistant coach, Richie Donovan, was an assistant coach at Hofstra (1986-1995) and the only member of the group without German roots. Chris Bergersen played with Hofstra (1993-1996).
A key financial supporter was James Metzger, who earned All-American honors at Long Island’s Half Hollow Hills East High School, winning the 1977 Ray Enners Award for Suffolk County’s outstanding lacrosse player.
Metzger continued to play at Hofstra during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. In 1980, he was named to the Division I All-American lacrosse team after his sophomore year. During that season, Metzger set the school’s second-highest scoring record of 4.9 points per game, which still stands. The record was also the second-highest points-per-game average in Hofstra lacrosse history at the time, and is currently the fourth-best at Hofstra.
With the coaches volunteering their time, Metzger’s financial assistance eased budget concerns. Metzger, along with others, are trying to get back into the game. As the successful owner of independent insurance brokerage Whitmore Group in New York, James Metzger’s financial donations recently completed renovations to the Hofstra men’s lacrosse locker room and established a new lacrosse office suite for the program. He also funded a permanent exhibit that celebrates the history of Hofstra’s men’s and women’s lacrosse programs, along with the school’s football program.
With the history of supporting the game he enjoyed at school, Metzger couldn’t deny Kaley’s request to help out for the German team. Kaley tells Metzger that his name is already popular throughout Germany and that it appears in every town (“Metzger” means “butcher”). When Metzger heard this, he felt he was destined to help develop the game in a country where he could trace his paternal ancestry.
“Anyone who plays lacrosse as a youth or young adult is told that when they finish the game, they have to find a way to get back into the game,” Kaley said. “Some of us can do this because of our time as coaches. Others may not have the time because they have achieved success as business owners, doctors or other professions. But they can still help the game grow through their generosity.”
Germans successful on the pitch
At the World Lacrosse Championship, the German team accepted an offer to advance in seeding to the highly competitive top league. The opportunity arose when a more experienced team, the Native American Iroquois team, had passport problems and never made it to the UK. The Germans jumped at the offer to play against some of the world’s best teams – Canada, USA, Japan, England and Australia – and very good. They finished in fifth place.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime for the German players,” Kaley said. “Now the German lacrosse family has experience competing at the highest level and has started preparing for the next tournament in 2014. Now that it has experience, it will work hard to develop and train to be more physically and mentally prepared for future competition.
Much of the current and future success of the German team is attributed to those who joined Kaley this year.
“Metzger, Bergersen and Donovan have all given back to the young players of the sport,” Kaley said, “and those young players, when they are successful in their chosen fields, will remember their contribution and want to carry on the tradition by helping the next generation.” lacrosse players.”
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