Author’s Note: This is the article I contributed to InsideLacrosse.com concerning the Stoneman Douglas story. A smaller version of this is scheduled to run in the April edition of the magazine. I hope all of our readers enjoy this and find it a relief in a small way.
It never happens to those you know.
It never happens in your area.
It never happens … until it does.
I’ve written for Florida Lacrosse News for about seven years, and it’s almost always been about positive news. Of course, there’s been the odd story about a program caught in an infraction and having to forfeit some games, or a coach or athletic director arrested for something, or even a star player going down injured.
Nothing like this.
I’m not an emotional person in general when it comes to tragedies. I turn 60 years old this year. I lost a close friend on 9/11. I was nearly the victim of a terrorist act in London in the early 1990s, an act that pretty much broke every window in a 50-story office building, including the one I had sat next to two hours before the blast.
First, let me thank Inside Lacrosse, Terry, Geoff and the rest of the crew, for giving me this forum to let out my own feelings and how the lacrosse world was affected, and is still being affected, by the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Fla.). Writing is pretty cathartic for me at times and sometimes it can help others, and I hope that those who are reading can take some solace from this in the end.
On the day of the attack, I was doing what I normally do on a weekday just before the Florida high school lacrosse season starts — sitting in front of my computer and TV screens and finding a way to juggle my work as a financial advisor for a somewhat sleepy book of business while also grinding out articles from press releases and my own original content, mostly District previews. I don’t remember how the markets were that day because it was probably about 2:30 p.m. or so when the TV screen, either CNBC or Fox Business, put up a blurb that there had been a school shooting in Florida. MSD had not been named right away, but the Florida label made me take notice.
Then it said Parkland and that really hit home. I live in Boca Raton and Parkland is basically due southwest of us and only a short drive for me. And then came the mention of MSD and that first ‘hit you in the gut’ feel when the aerial pictures started to come in. That sinking feeling when I first saw the students running and filing out with their hands over their heads.
A familiar picture that too many of us have witnessed too often.
Basically, code for “this is not going to end well.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas is a school of about 3,000 students located in a very affluent area of Southeast Florida. It’s a bit unusual for the area in that most upper-income locales in the vicinity are pretty dense in their housing. Parkland was a little late to the development stage and when you drive around the older, more eastern part of the city, you see large tracts of land (similar to Wellington if you know the area). There are even some areas where raising horses are indicated. As you go further toward the Everglades — where the city ends — you get the more traditional type of expensive construction on smaller plots. It’s kind of like a Garden City on Long Island, for those familiar with that.
What it is not is the type of place you would suspect would be in the crosshairs of a madman. Ironically, Parkland had just been rated one of the safest places to live in Florida — if not the safest — that week.
It’s a place that holds one of my fondest memories in Florida lacrosse: The game that announced to the lacrosse world that the program had arrived. In 2015, their first game was at home against mighty Saint Andrew’s. Tony Seaman’s first game at the helm of the storied program. I’m in the press box and Oxbridge coach Stan Ross was in the stands on a scouting trip.
The game started in Stoneman’s favor as they got out to a small lead. Then in the second quarter, I witnessed a feat of athleticism that took my breath away. Stoneman All-American LSM AJ Ferraro, a Navy recruit at the time, a freak of an athlete in this sport at about 6-3 and 235 lbs. of — shall we say, low body fat — intercepted a pass about his own 30-yard line (this is Florida, the football lines stay down all year), took off down the middle with the ball in the six-foot stick. After about 25 yards, he made a bullet pass of about 30 yards diagonally to his left to the wing attackman. He continued at speed down the middle, took the give and go pass on the run about 20 yards later, and in pretty much one motion shot the ball low left corner from 15 yards out, cleanly beating the Scot goalie.
At halftime, I sauntered over to Stan and we just looked at each other for a second until I said, “Do you believe we just saw that?” Stan, who’s seen a thing or two at the highest levels of lacrosse, looked at me and said, “Very few Division I LSMs can do what he just did.”
Stoneman pulled away in the second half and gave Saint Andrew’s one of their few losses of that time, and certainly their worst loss from an area school in a long time. Later that year, they met in the first round of the FHSAA Tournament and that game was magical too, going down to the last seconds. That game, also played at Stoneman, was in front of about 1,000 fans, and they were still streaming in at halftime as the game was so popular to attend by the students.
Read the rest HERE