From the Editor: Unlocking the Joy of Play


This article appears in the February edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I traveled to Israel with the U.S. men’s national team to tell the story of its inspiring run to a gold medal. No one knew that would be the outcome, of course, when we set out on an 11-hour flight from New York to Tel Aviv. I consider it one of the great privileges of my 16-year career at US Lacrosse not because the U.S. won, but because I had the opportunity to see up close how the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history operates.

Don’t let his disarming personality fool you. Duke and Team USA coach John Danowski is a master motivator. Whereas some coaches attack your pride, Danowski performs open-heart surgery. He’ll find the part of you that loves lacrosse more than anything else, even winning.

A classically Danowskian moment from the 2018 world championship occurred on the sixth day of the tournament. Less than 24 hours after edging rival Canada in a round-robin thriller, the U.S. men found themselves on a dimly lit auxiliary field preparing to face Scotland. They were beat up and tired, the result of the 9:45 p.m. game all but predetermined.

As they trudged along the fence line at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Danowski challenged them to fly around the field with the same excitement and energy they had the first time they ever got to play under the lights in a night game as kids. Who can’t relate to that?

I was reminded of that moment while editing Nelson Rice’s cover story on the Duke super team that now includes Tewaaraton favorite Michael Sowers, another potentially generational player in freshman sensation Brennan O’Neill and at least nine other players you would not be surprised to find on All-America teams by season’s end. 

Expecting to read about the making of a juggernaut and perhaps the burden of such expectations, I instead pored over a piece (“Let There Be Lacrosse,” page 18 and coming later this week to about unlocking the joy of play that had been arrested by the pandemic. It was then that I decided our covers — featuring the Duke men on the front and Notre Dame women on the back — had to evoke a similar emotion.

College lacrosse is back, and it feels so good. 

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