ESPN NFL Reporter Field Yates Keeps Lacrosse Close to His Heart

ESPN reporter Field Yates knows firsthand how much lacrosse means to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Long before he appeared on TV screens across the country, ESPN NFL reporter Field Yates played football and lacrosse at Belmont Hill School (Mass.) and Wesleyan University.

While Yates served mostly as a reserve for Wesleyan lacrosse from 2005-08, he developed lasting friendships and a love for the game that continues today. When he’s not appearing on “SportsCenter” and “NFL Insiders” or recording the “Fantasy Focus Football” podcast, he still follows his alma mater, as well as other college and professional lacrosse teams.

How did you get into lacrosse?

I had a best friend that was into lacrosse and he had long encouraged me to explore it. I started playing lacrosse at Belmont Hill. It was an all-boys school in the area and it always had a strong athletic tradition. When I got there, I had a couple of friends that were in my class whose fathers had played professionally in baseball. Both of those guys were standout [baseball] players and played the same position that I did. I felt like it wasn’t my time and maybe baseball wasn’t in my future at Belmont Hills and I ought to give lacrosse a try. During my time, Belmont Hills had some very strong teams at the varsity level and then some in the middle off the pack. I had a great experience there and it was a launching point to play at the college level at Wesleyan.

What did you take from your Wesleyan experience?

I would not try to embellish my lacrosse career at Wesleyan on a personal level. It was largely inglorious as a reserve defenseman/long-stick middie. It was some fun times and we really had a great four-year run with two trips to the final four and another trip to the NCAA tournament. … I’d like to think that some of the groundwork for the best season in school history this past year was perhaps laid by the players that worked so hard during the years that I was there.

How did you balance lacrosse with football?

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to play as many sports as possible. I just think there are so many skills that you can develop in other sports that can apply to lacrosse, or vice versa. The good thing was that the year laid itself out. From June until Thanksgiving, I was all football, all the time. Once that rolled over, your body recalibrates and you get past the football season. Accordingly, you shifted your mind to lacrosse mode.

Do you still follow the game?

I’ve got good friends around the community of professional and college lacrosse. I watch games endlessly during the season. It helps when you have a girlfriend that loves the game of lacrosse and she wants to watch the games, too. I still look forward, just like anyone else, to the preseason All-Americans and the Tewaaraton lists. It’s a great game to play and I think it’s a great made-for-TV product, so watching it is always a blast for me.

Have you talked lacrosse with notable NFL figures like Bill Belichick, Chris Hogan, etc.?

I’ve certainly brought up the sport of lacrosse with Bill and, I’ll tell you this: Bill, as incredibly gifted as a football mind that he is, I know for a fact how much lacrosse means to him and I’d love to see him coach the game of lacrosse at some point. It’s good to have advocates like that in the NFL that mean a lot to the lacrosse world. There may be a time where we’re talking about more than one NFL player who had a notable college lacrosse career like Chris Hogan did.

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