Originally appeared in March 2017 issue of US Lacrosse magazine
Eric Fannell’s reputation — intimidating, aloof, with the lore of an unseen Canadian talent — preceded him. And in some ways, people were right about him. The kid dressed in all black and wore his hat low, covering a buzz cut. He kept answers about himself to one word, avoided eye contact.
Fannell, as Ohio State men’s lacrosse captain Tyler Pfister put it, was “rough around the edges.” That was Pfister’s first impression, at least, when he met his new teammate and helped him move into a one-bedroom apartment in August of 2015.
Coach Nick Myers tabbed Pfister, an Ohio native, to help with Fannell’s transition from St. Catharines, Ontario — by way of tiny Division III Adrian College in Michigan — to Columbus. Gradually, over the course of lunches three to four times a week, usually at Asian restaurants like Mark Pi’s on High Street, Fannell’s tough outer layers peeled away like flaky crust falling off an egg roll.
Fannell’s father, Steve, a former Team Canada member and National Lacrosse League pro, as many people in the tight-knit, blue-collar St. Catharines lacrosse community already knew, was and is a drug addict, and no longer in Eric’s life. They haven’t spoken in seven years. And, yes, while some teammates probably still don’t know, the younger Fannell battled addiction problems himself. He drank, he says, two to three times a week at age 14. It was enough that his grandfather, Lincoln, took him to Alcoholics Anonymous when Eric was in high school.
Corey McLaughlin is a writer, editor and producer based in Baltimore, where since 2016 he has worked as a managing editor at The Agora, a multi-million dollar network of more than 30 publishing companies in the financial, health and travel industries. He previously spent two years as a sports reporter at Newsday (N.Y.) and six years at Lacrosse Magazine, including the last two as deputy editor. In that role, he enacted editorial development across print, online, video and social media platforms. He has contributed to The New York Times, Newsday, Baltimore magazine and other publications, and has appeared as a guest on national television and radio programs. Originally from Bay Shore, N.Y., Corey graduated from Penn State University in 2008 with degrees in journalism and anthropology and is currently pursuing a M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University. He lives with his wife, Jamie, and their dog, Manny.
Originally published at Baltimoremagazine.net:
In some ways, saying Joe Flacco doesn’t have passion is not breaking news. Even Flacco admits he’s certainly not the life-of-the-party type. In fact, he said exactly that in a podcast on BaltimoreRavens.com this week. But to hear the biggest icon in Ravens history say it, in the context of a critical analysis, is somewhat jarring to hear.
Saturday was my first Army-Navy game.
I didn’t play. I didn’t sweat, at least not to the point where it was noticeable. I didn’t parachute in like three men courageously did in a stiff wind during pre-game ceremonies. No, I just showed up to Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., along with roughly 10,000 others on Saturday afternoon, and watched what unfolded.
I took a few pictures on my phone, tweeted and wrote about the game afterward, but that story – while it described how Navy ended Army’s six-game winning streak in the series with a huge fourth-quarter rally – probably missed the bigger picture. And, no, not the Patriot League playoff race, although that is important. But how great the whole day was in general, and why can’t there be more games like this one?
It seems appropriate to start this story about Lyle Thompson with him at a dinner table surrounded by family.
So there was Lacrosse Magazine’s 2014 Preseason Player of the Year and Tewaaraton Award front-runner, on a mid-November Monday night, sitting at a circular, eight-person banquet hall table at a charity event in Latham, N.Y., a short drive north of Albany. In his arms, the college junior held his 7-month-old daughter, Mercy. She stood on his lap and they looked at each other face-to-face. To their right sat Thompson’s 2-year-old daughter, Layielle, eating chicken wings handed to her by Thompson’s older brother, Miles. You know Miles, the one who runs alongside Lyle the best attack line in college lacrosse right now and maybe ever.
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