Author’s Note: We’ll be starting to get in the mood for some Florida Launch action soon! Looks like Training Camp is in mid-May and before we know it the Launch will be looking to get back to the MLL playoffs! Launch attackman Matt Bellando, also a graduate of Saint Andrew’s and current Assistant Coach at the Palm Beach Atlantic Men’s program, is one of the leading point scorers in the history of the state of Florida.
As with most people born in Miami, FL, lacrosse was far from the first sport you wanted to play. Growing up, I would play baseball, hockey, and wrestling, but never even thought of lacrosse.
Hockey turned out to be the biggest sport in my childhood. I played forward and was a part of both a roller and ice hockey travel team that achieved great national success. I was never looking to play any other sports outside of the rink from when I was four till when I hung up my skates at 15 years old. It was not until one random day in 7th grade that my dad brought home a Brine Ripper, my first lacrosse stick, and introduced me to a game I had never heard. My brother, dad, and I played in the backyard that day, and the rest is history; The game hooked me. My dad signed me up for a camp that next week with Lenny Coy, and after the first day, he told my dad that I could have a great future in this sport. I guess he was right!
I have many great memories of playing lacrosse at an early age; I distinctly remember my first lacrosse game where we faced a team called the Long Island Express, and I scored four goals with one of them being a behind the back goal. I had no idea what I was doing out there, but it just came naturally to me. My coaches were great as they encouraged me to be creative and score any way I could. I remember my favorite shot was a “slap shot,” shooting the ball from the ground to the top corner of the net without picking it up.
As I sit and think about my early years in the sport of lacrosse, one game stands out against the rest. It was the American East Championship game my sophomore year at Stony Brook. We took on Albany and the star-studded Thompson trio. I scored the first two goals of the game which sparked the team to rout one of the best teams in the country. It was my first college conference championship win and the celebration after the game was one I will never forget.
I believe it was the physicality, speed, and high scoring atmosphere that made me love the sport. There is no better feeling than picking up a stick, heading out to a wall or the field, and shooting. There is something about it that gives me a sense of healing and relaxation. I guess that is why lacrosse is called the medicine game.
I hope you enjoy my playing style while out on the field and come out to support your Florida Launch this 2019 season. It will be one to remember.
-Matt Bellando #0
Author’s 2nd Note: Matt is being a little modest here. A number of us also remember his 3G/1A performance for Stony Brook in the NCAA Tournament against Johns Hopkins too . . .