More Than Meets the Buckeye

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.

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Bill Belichick | Overtime with Paul Carcaterra

Originally published on LaxMagazine.com

The New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick is one of the greatest football coaches in American history. He’s also one of lacrosse’s biggest fans.

From growing up in Annapolis, Md., to playing the game at Phillips Andover Academy and Wesleyan University in Connecticut, to his pro football coaching stops in New York, Cleveland and New England, the future Hall of Fame football coach has had a lacrosse stick by his side.

In the newest episode of Lacrosse Magazine’s “Overtime with Paul Carcaterra” — a US Lacrosse production — learn more about Belichick’s passion for the game, how he is giving back through the Bill Belichick Foundation, and see a side of the coach that you rarely ever witness in a press conference or public setting.

In an interview conducted in Foxborough, Mass., the week before April’s NFL Draft, Belichick sits down, plays catch and walks the Gillette Stadium halls with Carcaterra, the ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder.

Belichick opens up about the impact lacrosse has had on him and his family, takes you inside his thoughts when he is watching a game (“I like watching off-ball movement,” he says, among other things) and much more.

Would he ever coach a lacrosse team? And Tom Brady, a goalie? Belichick’s answer to that question (“Put him in goal. He can’t dodge; he can’t run.”) helped the piece get picked up by nearly every national sports media outlet in the country, which provided great, positive exposure for the game of lacrosse.

Special thanks Bill Belichick Foundation, ESPN, New England Patriots, Fields of Growth, Wesleyan University and College of the Holy Cross. Produced by Corey McLaughlin. Shot by Mike Wallin and Taylor Pelletier and edited by Mike Wallin.

Reaction and links

“Of all the interviews I have ever watched Bill Belichick give, this was by far the most open and forthcoming and warm — dare I say, heartwarming — that I ever heard and watched,” — Skip Bayless, ESPN First Take co-host

“The video is a home run.” — ESPN.com

The piece also was picked up by: NFL.com | Yahoo! Sports | ProFootballTalk-NBC Sports | Boston Globe | USA Today’s For the Win! | Fox Sports | Patriots.com | Barstool Sports | Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB

Portions appeared on: ESPN’s First Take | NFL Network | ESPN’s NFL Live

Social media clips: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Top Ravens Staffer Had To Convince Tom Brady He Actually Won Super Bowl

Originally published on Baltimoremagazine.net:

No, the Ravens weren’t in the Super Bowl. But, yes, that was the guy who works for them shadowing Tom Brady at midfield on Sunday night, amid the confetti, photographers, and reporters in the moments after the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons. His name is Chad Steele, now in his 15th year working in media relations for the Ravens. He’s tall—6-foot-7—and a former star basketball forward at Winthrop University in South Carolina in the mid-1990s. You might normally recognize him from post-game TV cuts, as the guy in the suit next to Joe Flacco when he marches onto the field to shake hands with an opposing quarterback and do interviews. “I get it quite often,” Steele said when asked if he’s recognized around town.

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Hampton Lacrosse: It’s Real

Originally published in Lacrosse Magazine

This is more than even Michael Crawford imagined.

Sure, he wanted something like it to unfold. A coach distributes equipment to 23 players. A two-hour practice. Players like him at historically-black Hampton University have the chance to learn and love the game the way he first did at St. Thomas More, an all-boys’ boarding school in Oakdale, Conn.

But Crawford could not have expected the president of Hampton, Dr. William Harvey, a business mogul whose office is decorated with framed pictures of him with U.S. presidents and other dignitaries, to send a letter last fall to the student body saying the university would add a varsity lacrosse program — or for it to actually happen just one year later. He never fathomed Under Armour gear, practice under the lights on Hampton’s new turf field or 6:45 a.m. workouts.

Or for him not to be there.

No, this wasn’t supposed to be the story. But as Hampton’s team motto says, “It’s real.”

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Doesn’t Get Much Better Than Army-Navy

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?

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World Championship Preview

Ahead of the 38-nation 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship, hosted by US Lacrosse in Denver, I edited a 14-page comprehensive tournament preview, with features on Team USA, Canada, the Iroquois Nationals and the growth of the game overseas. This project was completed in collaboration with a former U.S. player and current Canadian team captain, who wrote preview stories, as well as freelance writers, photographer, team management and in-house staff and designer. See and read the full package here, beginning on page 52 of the July 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine.

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