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US Lacrosse Vets Give Back to the Game – Help German Team at World Games
The American lacrosse community is a tight-knit group. Almost everyone who has played or coached the sport welcomes opportunities 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 Championships in Great Britain, the German men’s team benefited greatly from several American lacrosse veterans who have ancestral ties to that country. Their involvement helped the team achieve an exciting fifth place finish. They also spurred the growth of the game across Europe and Asia, and helped instill lacrosse camaraderie among a new generation of players.
The Germany team was coached by Jack Kaley, who spent a considerable part of his life playing or coaching the game in New York. He played the game at Hofstra University from 1957 to 1960, then coached at East Meadow High School on Long Island 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 school in Divisions I and II.
“At this point in my life, I am the Von Steuben of America going to Germany,” Kaley said, referring to Baron Von Steuben, the military officer in the area of German rule known as Prussia who arrived in America to help win the Revolutionary War. “Instead of coming here to fight a war of independence, I came here to help train lacrosse players and raise the bar in international competition.”
Lacrosse in Germany is still in its infancy. This year’s team was made up of players between the ages of 19 and 34. They faced some of the best players in the world in the ever-expanding tournament which fielded 30 teams.
“Lacrosse isn’t just the fastest growing game in America,” Kaley said, “it’s the fastest growing game in the world. This year, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan were new to the tournament.”
Long Island Supports German Lacrosse
All the support for the German team this year was linked to Hofstra. 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).
The main financial backer was James Metzger, who earned All-America honors at Long Island’s Half Hollow Hills East High School, where he won the 1977 Ray Enners Award for Top Lacrosse Player in Suffolk County.
Metzger continued to play at Hofstra through the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He was named to the 1980 Division I All-American Lacrosse Team after his sophomore year. During that season, Metzger set a sophomore school record of 4.9 points per game that still stands. This record also ranked as the second highest points-per-game average in Hofstra lacrosse history at the time, and it currently ranks fourth all-time at Hofstra.
As the coaches gave of their time, Metzger’s financial assistance alleviated budget worries. Metzger, along with the others, wants to give back to the game. As a successful business owner of the independent insurance brokerage group Whitmore in New York, financial donations from James Metzger recently completed the renovation of the Hofstra men’s lacrosse locker room and created a new suite of lacrosse offices for the program. He also funded a permanent exhibit that celebrates the history of Hofstra’s men’s and women’s lacrosse programs as well as the school’s soccer program.
With a history of supporting the game he loved at school, Metzger couldn’t refuse Kaley’s request for help with the German team. Kaley told Metzger that his name was already popular throughout Germany and appeared in every city (“Metzger” means “butcher”). Hearing this, Metzger felt he was destined to help develop the game in the country where he could trace his paternal origins.
“Anyone involved in lacrosse as a youth or young adult is told that when they’re done playing the game, they have to find a way to give back to the game,” Kaley said. “Some of us can do it with our time as coaches. Others may not have the time because they have been successful as business owners, doctors or in other professions. But they can still help the game grow with their generosity.”
The Germans succeed in the field
At the World Lacrosse Championships, the German team accepted the offer to move up the rankings to play in the highly competitive top division. The opportunity arose when a more experienced team, the American Indian Iroquois Team, ran into passport problems and never made it to the UK. The Germans took up the offer to play against some of the best teams in the world – Canada, USA, Japan, England and Australia – and they did very well. They finished in fifth place.
“It was a unique opportunity for German players,” Kaley said. “Now the German lacrosse family has experience competing at the highest level and they started their preparation for the next tournament in 2014. Now that they have the experience, they will work hard to develop and grow. train to become more physically and mentally prepared for future competitions.
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 young players in the sport,” Kaley said, “and these young players, when they succeed in their chosen fields, will remember their contributions and want to continue the tradition by helping the next. generation. of lacrosse players.”
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