Former SU star Casey Powell continues box lacrosse career at 39

first_img Published on September 20, 2015 at 10:07 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Facebook Twitter Google+ Casey Powell had no clue what he was doing.He was used to playing on an outdoor lacrosse field, without walls that restrict space.But after graduating high school, he dabbled in box lacrosse for three months with the Toronto Beaches of the Ontario Lacrosse Association.“‘What the eff are you doing, eh?’” Powell recalled his coach screaming in his first practice. “‘What hand are you?’”“Right-handed,” Powell said after he switched his stick from his right hand to his left.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“‘Then keep it in your effing right hand.’”Powell didn’t understand players don’t switch hands in box lacrosse since the game is played on a hockey rink-sized field without time and space to use both.After finishing his decorated college career at Syracuse, in which he was named Division I National Player of the Year twice, the Rochester Knighthawks took him No. 1 overall in the National Lacrosse League’s draft even without a background in box lacrosse.Sixteen years later, Powell is considered one of the best American players to play both box and field lacrosse, despite a challenging transition early on. At 39 years old, he will join Team USA on Monday for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship taking place this week in Syracuse after missing the first two games due to a prior commitment.“I don’t think it’s even close when you think of a professional American lacrosse player that’s dominated in the outdoor and indoor league like Casey Powell,” said Paul Carcaterra, his sophomore year roommate at Syracuse and current ESPN lacrosse analyst.Even without understanding the concepts of box lacrosse, Powell fell back on his stick skills and athleticism. When he first started playing professionally he said he wasted too much energy running around without a purpose.Still, the first goal Powell ever scored in an NLL game was off a one-handed over-the-shoulder and under-his-elbow shot.“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” said Tim Soudan, a former Knighthawks teammate and current assistant with the U.S. team.Yet Powell didn’t fully grasp the concepts of the indoor game until 2008 when he played with the New York Titans. Years earlier, he thought he never would have success with it. He was improving his outside shot, forcing defenders to press up on him. When they overextended, he could run past them and crash the net.The way Powell sacrificed his body became one of his trademarks. He absorbed hits that would have injured most players.“If you look over the course of the last 20-plus years, I don’t even understand how he’s still walking,” Carcaterra said, “let alone running around like he’s in his mid-20s.”In order to stay fit, Powell emphasizes drinking water, stretching and playing basketball. When he’s not coaching or running clinics, he’s often playing “speed lacrosse,” a combination of field and box lacrosse similar to playing “in the backyard.”Even at the later stages of his career, Powell was named the NLL’s Most Valuable Player in 2010 — the only American to accomplish this — and won the same award in Major League Lacrosse (field lacrosse) in 2014.When Powell went to a bank in Sarasota, Florida, about a week before joining the U.S. in Syracuse, a worker peaked at his business card that says, “CP Lacrosse.”“‘Oh, you used to play lacrosse when you were younger?’” she asked Powell. “‘Yeah, I still play,’” he replied.At 39, Powell plays “smarter, not harder.” He can still handle it physically and his passion for the game hasn’t dropped off.Fans around his age often thank him for representing their demographic and encourage him to keep playing until he can’t. His friends joke by calling him Brett Favre.“He’s still one of the best players in the game,” said Joe Walters, one of Powell’s teammates with Team USA. “Not based on history. He’s still playing at an exceptionally high level. Age really doesn’t matter.”Despite his top form, Powell wasn’t going to play in this year’s WILC as recently as a few months ago. He didn’t try out with the team, but after seeing the rosters and coaching staff, he decided he would give it a shot.At the team’s training camp on Labor Day Weekend, he pulled players aside during drills and shared knowledge he’s learned about the indoor game.The man who was once questioned for switching hands is helping to shape the next generation of American players.“I remember being in my 20s and seeing guys in their late 30s or mid-30s and saying, ‘What the hell is that guy still doing playing?’” Powell said. “And here I am. I’m sure I’m getting some of the same looks.” Commentslast_img

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