When it comes to Long Island sports, lacrosse is typically the topic of conversation. A valuable reason why could be because of Long Island Pride Lacrosse. Across Long Island, players from the north shore to south shore gather to play within this distinguished club.
The Pride’s coaching staff are all active members in lacrosse. Director/coach Joseph Baccarella has been a head coach at the varsity level for numerous Long Island High Schools. Assistant Director/coach Marcelo Sandoval is currently head Lacrosse coach at Dominican College. After all, a good coaching staff reflects on a good team. In this case, it reflects on the Pride’s completion of their fourteenth successful season.
Long Island Pride continues to add renowned coaching to their staff with men such as All-American goalie as a high school senior and once member of Hofstra men’s lacrosse team, Robert Belliars.
“We look for high school and middle school coaches with the experience. We are very loyal and we bring back our former players to coach,” said Sandoval. The coaching staff is orchestrated uniquely; a coach is set to stay with a team from the beginning of time in the club till they graduate. This helps build team camaraderie as coach and team grows together.
When each season comes to an end, the club comes back with new ideas or ways to do things differently to better the program, but also go back to the key components, which have made them successful.
Over the years, the Pride continues to stay relevant and appeal to a vast amount of lacrosse players.
“We give an opportunity to every single kid who wants an opportunity to play, that’s what makes us different from everybody else,” said Sandoval. “Not just to be on a team that may win every single game, but you may never step on the field and we play every single player no matter what tournament it is, no matter what the score is.”
The lacrosse club is a model of consistency as they head into their 15th summer in 2017. Long Island Pride has had athletes grow up within their club from youth to young adults and the list of alumni is filled with an abundance of professional and collegiate lacrosse players. The 2006 South Side state champions were one of the Pride’s teams, along with players like Bobby Hayes, a player for University of Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team and Max Seibald, a professional lacrosse player for the Boston Cannons.
“We get excited to see the potential when they come to us and see them grow into great college players and some great professional players, said Sandoval. “We run our higher divisions (JV and Varsity) just like a college practice. But more than anything, about how to present yourself on and off the field.”
Long Island Pride lacrosse club receives new and familiar faces each year. Keith Cakoyanis, an All-County goalie was a high school Sophomore from Bethpage, and graduate of Plainedge High School. He now plays at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“As I grew in the Long Island Pride system, the biggest component I got out of it was the connections I made across the lacrosse community, meeting so many who have helped me along the way getting to play college lacrosse,” said Cakoyanis.
The staff enjoys watching players grow and hope they get the most out of their days in a Pride uniform.
“We are hoping that they’re having fun, that they can learn and make friendships that will last a life time,” said Sandoval.
-by Anthony Pugliese