Overtime with Paul Carcaterra: Mike Powell (S1 E6)

Mike Powell, the Syracuse legend and current musician, joins Paul Carcaterra for Episode 6 of Overtime.

Mike Powell was born into one of the most influential families in the history of lacrosse. Like his brothers, Casey and Ryan, Powell was a four-time All-American at Syracuse. All three of them have world championship rings with Team USA.

But what separated Powell from his two brothers were his creative interests. During an on-and-off professional lacrosse career, Powell pursued his other interests — music and art.

As creative as he was on the lacrosse field, memorably completing a forward flip before scoring at the Carrier Dome and dazzling during the 2006 MLL All-Star Game freestyle competition, Powell wanted to channel his talents in a different forum.

Now a musician and artist by trade, Powell rarely watches lacrosse, but has two decades of memories to reflect upon. He joins Paul Carcaterra for a new episode of the US Lacrosse Magazine podcast “Overtime,” out March 12, to discuss his illustrious career and why he’s content with life as an artist.



What was your lacrosse experience, playing in the backyard?

Casey brought home McWhippet sticks — one for him and one for Ryan to play catch with — and he told us about what he learned in school that day. What piqued my interest the most was the Native American aspect of it. I’m always curious by nature, so I just started diving in and learning even more. Our backyard became the place where we experimented and dreamed. We really grew as lacrosse players and brothers. I would wake up in the morning and my mother would have a bag of flour, cooking all-purpose flour. I would use that flour to line the crease and make the box lines. 

That’s amazing.

I’d write “NCAA” on our grass, because the only games we ever saw were the final four, and they always had NCAA on the grass. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time. It was a platform for us to experiment.

You’ve always marched to the beat of your own drum, whether as an athlete or a person. How did that develop in your own life?

I’ve always been like that. I’ve always wanted to present myself and what made me feel good. With lacrosse, I had to find my own identity because of my two older brothers. You have to have that drive to do it your way.

What were your non-lacrosse interests as a kid?

Oh man, where do you want me to start, Carc? Taekwondo was a big thing. 


Yeah, totally. “Karate Kid.” And BMX was probably my biggest one. Casey and Ryan raced bikes and I did freestyle at a little course called Can-Am Speedway. Gymnastics. Those were my three things.

When I watched you play, even at a young age, you did things I had never seen before. Where did you come up with these things?

If I was sitting in school, I’d be looking out the window thinking about where I’d throw the ball off the wall and where would be a cool place to get it to ricochet in a different way. I was always thinking about different ways to do it. Although it’s the oldest sport in North America, it was so brand new to me. I always felt there was room to stamp the game with a little bit of my own flair and style.

You played in Major League Lacrosse for a few seasons and with Team USA. You’re in your athletic prime. Then, you walk away from the game. Why did you do it in that moment?

A lot different reasons, the first one being I wasn’t completely focused on lacrosse. My mind was getting into other things. When we were growing up, there was no pro lacrosse. When we were kids, we weren’t dreaming of being pro lacrosse players. We were dreaming of going to Syracuse and winning a national championship. I did that. You did that. We lived our dreams out. When the pro game came around, it was another step that I wasn’t prepared for, because I had felt like I had done what I wanted to do with lacrosse.

I think of passion as the word that describes you. Now you’re in your mid-30s. What’s consuming your passion?

I’ve realized that what makes me happy is when I’m making something or in the process of making something. Right now, I’m writing songs and playing music. I also run an art studio in Cazenovia called Dragon Feather. I make furniture and candles and soap. I feel very happy and fulfilled because I get to wake up every day and be creative. When I write a song or I put together a dining room table, it’s like a weight gets lifted off me. I walk around a little differently because I just added something to the world that I’m proud of.

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