COURTESY OF RMU ATHLETICS

Jimmy Perkins scored 31 goals and added 30 assists to help lead RMU to its first NCAA tournament in 2018.

Jimmy Perkins, Adam Charalambides the Elder Statesmen of College Lacrosse


For Jimmy Perkins and Adam Charalambides, talks with their teammates have certainly changed over the course of seven seasons in college lacrosse.

When each entered the college ranks as freshmen in 2015, they were in tune with the latest pop culture trends and were eager to fight for playing time.

For Perkins, he was an 18-year-old Pittsburgh native playing in his hometown at Robert Morris and rocking long, flowing blonde hair that has continued to shorten each season. Charalambides had made the trip from Georgetown, Ontario, to Piscataway, N.J., to play for Rutgers and display his creativity and attacking prowess in the Big Ten.

“I think everyone goes through that phase early on, trying to grow out the flow and everything,” Perkins said.

Those were simpler times back then.

At 24 years old, Perkins and Charalambides are still college lacrosse players. Over the years, they’ve experienced a shift in those conversations. With teammates more than six years younger, the elder statesmen of college lacrosse are starting to feel out of touch.

“I’ll try to drum up references and those guys are like, ‘What’s Rocket Power?’” Perkins said of his Robert Morris teammates. “I’m like, ‘Oh God, that was what I grew up on.’”

“My pop culture definitely comes from them,” Charalambides said. “Random celebrity rumors. I don’t look at that stuff online, but the guys keep me up to date on that action.”


“I’ll try to drum up references and those guys are like ‘What’s Rocket Power?’ I’m like ‘Oh god, that was what I grew up on.’” - Jimmy Perkins


For as behind as the two stars may be on pop culture, they’re more than up to date on the lacrosse field.

With multiple seasons lost due to injury, and the 2020 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Perkins and Charalambides have been granted an extremely rare opportunity — a seventh year of college lacrosse.

Perkins, who lost the 2015 and 2016 seasons to a PCL and MCL tear and sports hernia surgery, spent four seasons at Robert Morris before transferring to Utah for two seasons. After the pandemic halted plans to pursue professional lacrosse and a career in real estate, he entered his name in the transfer portal and made the transition back to the Colonials and coach Andrew McMinn.

Charalambides, who sat out the 2015 season due to injury and tore his ACL before both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, has received three medical redshirts and will enter 2021 as a redshirt-junior. He said this will be his last season with Rutgers after dropping 83 points in a season-plus in 2019 and 2020.

Neither Perkins nor Charalambides envisioned a scenario in which they’d be playing college lacrosse at 24, but they’re not taking the opportunity for granted. In a country dealing with a pandemic, the leadership a seventh-year player can bring could be vital.

“If you would have told me I’d still be playing, [I would have said], ‘How?’” Perkins said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘How does this guy even have a seventh year?’ Never would have expected to go this route, but that’s life, and you have to make the best of your situation.”

With the seventh year comes a responsibility, according to Charalambides.

“I want to make sure everyone else has a great experience,” he said. “I always talk with the older guys who have graduated and they say, ‘Man, what I would give to have another year.’ That’s definitely what I hear. You want to pass down as much as you can knowledge-wise and experience-wise and about life.”








As much as having a player with six seasons of experience is an asset, teammates still find a way to have a little fun with their elders. What’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without a few jokes?

Perkins experienced a phenomenon he expected to encounter in 2019 while playing at Utah. In the handshake line after a win over Detroit Mercy — amid the chorus of ‘good game’ he heard, ‘Hey, Coach!’”

“I was like, ‘What?’ I had to do a double-take,” Perkins said.

As he turned, he saw Jake Freedlander, a freshman for Detroit Mercy. Perkins, then a freshman at Robert Morris, had coached Freedlander when he was in middle school at Quaker Valley (Pa.).

The moment was one his teammates certainly didn’t let him live down.

“I was like, ‘Holy cow, these kids are already in college? I’m getting old.’” Perkins said.

The two-year leader for a new Utah men’s lacrosse program dropped 52 points in 2019 and 2020 combined. He earned his Master’s in Commercial Real Estate while in Salt Lake City — the program for which he decided to leave his hometown in 2018.

Once he completed his courses in May, Perkins started to look to his future. His job prospects in the Salt Lake area were not materializing as he had hoped due to the pandemic, so he decided to head back home.

He moved back into his parents’ home, just a seven-minute drive from the campus of Robert Morris. His parents, Joe and Lori, were certainly happy to have their son back. While he pondered whether he wanted to pursue Major League Lacrosse, Perkins and his father hit the golf course to pass the time.

“He’s pretty good,” Joe Perkins said of his son. “He hits the ball a mile. I jump out of my shoes when he hits it.”

Eventually, he elected to pursue the seventh year in college lacrosse and an MBA — hoping to accomplish both where it all started. He entered the transfer portal and reached out to McMinn, the coach that gave him his only Division I opportunity in 2015.

“We just told him we’d do whatever we could and would love to have him back and we’d support him with every decision he makes,” said McMinn, who couldn’t maintain a consistent relationship with Perkins while he was at Utah as a result of NCAA restrictions.

“Most people that leave a program, there might be a little bad taste on either side. For us and Jimmy, it was never like that. Originally, I just wanted to re-establish the relationship. I didn’t think it was going to the extent of you coming back to play for us.”

Perkins decided over the summer to return to the program he had grown up watching — just a short ride down the hill on his parents’ street, across the Sewickley Bridge and up University Boulevard.

Unlike many transfers, the former Colonials’ star that led the program to its first NCAA tournament in 2018 has assimilated nicely. McMinn said that while he may be 24, it’s hard to tell at times.

“The running joke is that he still looks like he’s a freshman when he comes back,” McMinn joked. “As old as he is on the team, he still looks like he could be 18.”




COURTESY OF RUTGERS ATHLETICS

Adam Charalambides is prepping for his seventh season after dropping 62 goals in a year-plus in 2019-20.


Charalambides, conversely, has looked like a grown man on the lacrosse field at times. Now in his seventh year, he’s feeling that way, as well.

Like his Robert Morris counterpart, Charalambides has seen players he once coached reach the college level. The only difference in his case is that the player joined the Rutgers program.

Charalambides coached Jack Aimone, a freshman for the Scarlet Knights, as part of the Leading Edge program in the summer of 2018. Aimone hasn’t slipped up and addressed his teammate as ‘Coach.’

“If he does, I’ll make sure he hears it,” joked Charalambides.

The Ontario native has called Rutgers his home for the better part of six seasons, even spending the quarantine with his teammates in Piscataway. Even before the 2020 season was canceled — one in which he scored 15 goals in six games — Charalambides planned to earn his Master’s in Labor Studies and Employment Relations. Thus, the decision to return for a seventh season was not a difficult one.

A victim of ACL injuries in back-to-back seasons, Charalambides spent the extra time this spring and summer strengthening his knees and gaining fluidity in an area that is prone to soreness.

“I learned to live in the training room,” he said. “I re-learned how to run properly. I wanted to get back to the fluidity that I felt in 2016, pre-all of these injuries. I’ve tried to understand how to move correctly.”

Along the way, Charalambides made sure that he was there for his younger teammates as they navigated an unprecedented situation. Not all players have had the game taken away, but he has drawn from experience to help his team.

“Everyone can relate in the fact that COVID gave you a different perspective on the game,” he said. “That’s something I’ve experienced through injuries, as well.”

Now that the team is back on campus, Charalambides has assumed a leadership role alongside roommate Kieran Mullins. The duo has passed the time playing basketball and heading to the Jersey Shore, which sits only 40 minutes from campus.

A potential NLL career awaits Charalambides, but he’s in no rush to meet his future. He has already registered two of the top seasons in school history. He dropped 45 goals his freshman season, good for sixth all-time. He followed up in 2019 with 47 goals, which sits third in school history.

The 24-year-old has grown as a human being and player in his six seasons with the Scarlet Knights, and he’s eager to cap his career the right way in 2021.

“It’s been a roller coaster, but it’s taught me a lot about rolling with the punches and keep chopping,” he said. “Hopefully, I can top off this seven-year ride with a Big Ten championship.”