I can tell you the last five college lacrosse teams that won the national championship.
I can also tell you the best players on each of those teams all while giving you the rundown of which ACC or Big 10 lacrosse games are on this weekend on ESPNU.
But, to be honest, I can tell you — but I never would.
And I wouldn’t because of the fear of those two words: lax rat.
The term “lax rat” is a name that has followed me around ever since I picked up a lacrosse stick. During my freshman year, lacrosse was an entirely new sport to me. The speed of the game along with the required coordination made me instantly fall in love.
I started watching college games every weekend and learned the play styles of the top players in the country. By my sophomore year, I was obsessed with lacrosse, or as I say, a lax rat.
And that title stuck.
Proud of my knowledge of the lacrosse world, I realized it was almost impossible to share the same passion with my fellow teammates. For some reason, it was odd to be enamored with lacrosse, hence the name lax rat. After asking many questions, I got the same answer: It’s just different with lacrosse.
Why? How is it different? Completely confused, I noticed a culture and a presence of guilt that needed to be changed.
Every time I asked someone whether or not he watched the Duke-Syracuse lacrosse game or saw Lyle Thompson’s recent behind-the-back goal, I was met with the same hesitation and reluctance to say yes.
You can’t love a sport too much. The fear of becoming “a rat” can only hurt team chemistry in the long run. And even though lacrosse may be “different,” this consequence applies to all sports.
For this reason, I was completely confused as a freshman picking up a lacrosse stick for the first time. A simple “I love lacrosse” statement was met with scorn and laughter. Wouldn’t a team full of lax rats play better than a team full of players not able to admit they love the game?
The only way to answer this question was being different.
For the next two years, I carried a lacrosse stick with me around the house, pounded the pocket maybe 600 times a day and watched highlights until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.
And I wouldn’t be anywhere as a lacrosse player without it.
So now, I take pride in the lax rat status. I have 46 college lacrosse games on my DVR, and my YouTube recommendations are filled with videos on how to string a high pocket.
But more importantly, I am not afraid to say, as should nobody, that I love lacrosse.
And I know for a fact that I’m not the only one.
So to all the sports fanatics out there, don’t be afraid to share what you care about.
Don’t be afraid to be a rat.