Let’s end this Father’s Day issue with a tale of men becoming boys again, if only for an hour or so. This story takes place on a cool windy night in mid-April at Viera Regional Park. It is dusk, and two teams of would-be gladiators gear up and begin their pre-game drills and stretches for an epic battle between the fathers, older sons and coaches of Brevard Men’s Lacrosse (BML) and the Eastern Florida State College Titans, the college’s inaugural lacrosse team. How does this happen, and more importantly, why?
The matchup was the brainstorm of Roger Welton, an offensive coach for ESFC and the founder of this local men’s league. What could be more fun to watch than a bunch of older men being schooled at lacrosse by the upstart late teen and early twenty- something Titans. Except that isn’t what happened at all. Many of these BML men played in college, some at a high level, and the game was not as lopsided as you’d expect… but in the third quarter, youth began to win out over drive and ambition and BML lost by a single goal. It was a great night of lacrosse and everyone walked away a winner.
SCL: Tell us about the game from your perspective.
WELTON: It was the most fun I have had since college! I thought we competed very well and exceeded expectations. I think we would have had them if the game were about 10 minutes shorter. But my hat’s off to EFSC — those guys played with class and sportsmanship the whole game.
SCL: How did this come about? Was it a challenge made at practice that your team of old guys could beat the Titans? Who threw down the gauntlet?
WELTON: As a first-year program, the Titans had a limited number of games this season, and one day at practice, I joked that if they wanted another game, they should take on the Men’s League. The Titans thought it was an awesome idea and when I reached out to the more experienced Men’s League guys that I thought would be capable of reasonably competing in this game, they were all in.
SCL: Give our readers a little history on Brevard Men’s Lacrosse.
WELTON: I played my last lacrosse game for Montclair State University in May 1996, graduated a year later, then went to veterinary school and jumped right into my career (Welton is the president and a DVM at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne). Once I started coaching the sport again in 2009, I realized how much I missed the game and had been throwing around the idea for a Men’s League for some time. By 2014, we finally had enough interest and talent to make a go of it and and our first season was a blast. Now going into our third season, I would not be surprised if we end up with 50-60 guys this year.
SCL: Do you play other leagues? Where are they?
WELTON: That will be the next step in our evolution, I think. Given the success of the college game and my connection to that program as an assistant coach, we will likely make our game with them a yearly tradition. There are guys seeking outside competition so we will begin looking…I am sure we are not the only old guys reliving the glory days.
SCL: If someone is interested in joining BML, how would they do it? What kind of experience is needed? When do you practice? When are your games?
WELTON: The local lacrosse store sponsors the league, so once general registration is open, you can find it at the Viera Lacrosse and Sport website. No experience is required, but I would advise at least decent proficiency throwing and catching before joining. Games are weekly under the lights at Viera Regional Park; the day of the week is still to be determined.
SCL: Do your kids play? What do they say when they see Dad out there playing?
WELTON: I have an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter that both play lacrosse. My son loves the men’s games. After the college game, he said, “Number 20 looked pretty tough out there, Dad.” (We both wear number 20).