Courtesy photo Weber-Callahan sees similarities to many different sports with lacrosse, but knows he has a lot of catching up to do.
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published: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
a liking to lacrosse
By DAN HOEHNE
This past summer, Lake Placid graduate Dylan Weber-Callahan had been faced with a tough decision - to pursue offers to play baseball or drop the sport in pursuit of his education.
You see, at the start of his freshman campaign for the Savannah College of Art and Design, the school announced that this would be the last season of the baseball program.
Of course, as things turned out, Weber-Callahan had a breakout season on the mound, and other schools began to circle around with offers to continue his career elsewhere.
But the architect in training was at the best school for his academic goals and in the end, that was what won out.
Of course, then another athletic opportunity came calling as the SCAD Lacrosse coach asked if he'd be interested in trying out a new sport.
"To be honest, I knew what the sport was, because I have some friends that play," Weber-Callahan said. "But other than the basic objective of the game, to score points, I was pretty lost."
But the versatile athlete, who had also been a standout swimmer in high school, was certainly up to try something new.
Lacrosse is one of the truest, and oldest, North American sports which traces its' roots to Native American tribes and goes back as early as 1100 A.D.
Somewhat akin to hockey on dry ground, the angled hockey sticks are replaced by straight, long sticks with a netted head and the puck is replaced by a small rubber ball.
Like hockey, or football for that matter, lacrosse is a full-contact sport with players adorned with shoulder pads, helmets and padded gloves.
Body- and stick-checks are normal tactics to try to prevent a team from advancing up field and scoring, while positioning and "boxing out," much like battling for a rebound in basketball, are utilized as well.
What he soon found as an initial comfort zone were some similarities to baseball, though with some notable differences as well.
"I feel like eye-hand coordination is really important in lacrosse and that was something I took away from baseball," he said. "At the first day of practice this fall, we all lined up and started tossing the ball back and forth, gradually moving further and further apart. I remember thinking, 'all right, I can do this. This is just like warming up for baseball.'"
But that comfort zone quickly dissipated for the right-handed thrower.
"We started doing passing drills and had to use our left and right hand to catch and throw, which was completely new for me," Weber-Callahan continued. "I realized how completely lost I was and to this day, I'm still not completely comfortable with that aspect of the game."
As practices continued, he began to see similarities to other sports as he learned more about the game.
"There are some plays that are similar to basketball, along with soccer, just because all of the running the midfielders have to do," he said. "We make picks, set guys up to cut across the field, or across the crease, and a defender has to guard his man. I definitely don't have the experience to get into more detailed plays, but after every practice I feel like I understand the game a little bit better."
Like the old adage of teaching an old dog new tricks, though Weber-Callahan is by no means old, in context it rings true that it is a challenge at this stage.
"I love baseball and when I learned to play, I was four-years old, so I know it pretty well" he said. "The majority of the guys on the team have been playing lacrosse for as long, if not longer, than I've been playing baseball. Transition isn't the best word for it, it's more like an opportunity to learn a brand new sport. My teammates have been great in helping me improve on the field and understand the game better, but I definitely have a lot of catching up to do."
The college years are a time of new beginnings and transition, discovery and decisions, as young adults take steps toward their futures.
Dylan Weber-Callahan has experienced a little bit of all of that just a little way into his sophomore year.
His future as an architect won out over a possible baseball journey, but in so doing, brought about a new opportunity for his athletic and competitive fires.
"Getting to play a new sport in college has just made me realize that as long as you're willing to put the work in, you really can do anything," he said. "Before this past summer, I had never even seen a lacrosse game being played, and had no idea that I ever would. I'm still at a beginner's level, but I can only get better from where I'm at."
And the athletic endeavors of this student athlete take off on a new path.
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