Back home, way out near the western coast of Canada, in New Westminister, B.C., Kevin Crowley was fiddling with some cables, connecting his laptop to his television. His family was over. They were about to watch the 2011 Major League Lacrosse Draft on ESPN3.
Crowley had an inkling as to where he would place in the draft. Rick Sowell, his head coach at Stony Brook, told him that the Hamilton Nationals, who had the first pick, were interested. As extraordinary as the news was, Crowley kept taciturn about draft projections.
“I didn’t want to sound like, ‘oh, here’s where I think I’m going to go’ when people ask, right?” Crowley said. “Because if that didn’t happen, it would be pretty embarrassing.”
For premiere athletes, draft day is the culmination of years of dedication to a sport, and Crowley’s case is no different. Growing up in Canada, his family is steeped in lacrosse, the national sport. “My grandpa played lacrosse. My uncle played lacrosse. It’s just something you do when you grow up in New Westminster,” he said.
However, Crowley appears to do it a little better than most. During his junior year at Stony Brook, as a first team All-American, Crowley notched one of the best seasons in the history of the school’s lacrosse program, nabbing 51 goals and 26 assists during the 17-game season. He was just the fourth junior since 1995 to be awarded the 2010 USILA Enners Award, which given to the nation’s most outstanding Division I player.
This year, to add to his already cluttered mantle, Crowley was named a preseason All-American and given the Division I Preseason Player of the Year award by Lacrosse Magazine. He is just 26 points away from breaking the Seawolves’ career scoring record. And perhaps more importantly to Crowley, who despite all the personal accolades, remains team-conscious, as he was designated a team captain for his upcoming senior season.
Crowley is surrounded by talent at Stony Brook. Teammates Tom Compitello, Adam Rand, and Jordan McBride were all selected in the first round of the MLL draft. The 2011 Seawolves are ranked 8th nationally. In this year’s preseason coaches’ poll, Stony Brook was unanimously picked to win the America East Conference.
Along with the esteem, Stony Brook was featured in the February edition of Lacrosse Magazine, with Crowley, Coach Sowell and McBride on the cover, donning Seawolves red.
“That was cool. They had a professional photographer come in. It was my first time doing something like that,” Crowley said. “Any time you get put on the cover of a magazine it’s awesome. It was great that we got the recognition and that they wanted to put us on the front like they did.”
Out in the blogosphere, Crowley has been regarded as a “lanky,” “do-it-all” midfielder. And at 6’4, 200 pounds, he is certainly a tall glass of water. But with the plaudits, Crowley keeps a genuine smile and is careful to stay grounded and focused on the upcoming season.
“We want to win the conference,” Crowley said. “We’re confident, but we’re not overconfident, and that’s important. Given the success we’ve had and the media exposure, I feel like some teams will let that go to their heads; but we’re a focused group, and we know what we want to achieve.”
Crowley also praises his coach, saying that “[Coach Sowell] is great for keeping us levelheaded. He always reminds us that we have a target on our back this year because teams saw the success we had last year, and now Stony Brook is the team that they want to beat. And that’s good for us because people are going to get up to play us, and that should hopefully lift our game to the next level.”
Crowley and the Seawolves are in the final leg of prepping for their opener on February 26 against top-ranked Virginia. He practices six days per week, but during his downtime, Crowley dabbles in the other kind of gaming with his housemates.
“We have the Call Of Duty: Black Ops going on right now. Pretty much everyone has a system in the house,” Crowley said. “I live with four other Canadians [Jordan McBride, Kyle Belton, Robbie Campbell, Greg Miceli] and one guy from Long Island, John Bella. It’s just a big gaming house.”
Even as the number one pick in the draft, the sport alone usually does not provide enough financial support for players. Lacrosse is a labor of love for Crowley—playing and teaching it—and he hopes he can make it his career.
“I want to play both indoor and outdoor for the pro league. Hopefully I’ll get endorsed,” Crowley said. “Not many people can make a living on lacrosse, but it would be a dream of mine. I love doing camps and teaching kids how to play. If I could keep on doing that, it would be ideal.”
On January 21, come the hour of the draft, surrounded by family, Crowley realized that his Internet provider didn’t supply ESPN3. In lieu of watching the broadcast on TV, they had to rely on a live blog of the draft to break the news that the Hamilton Nationals did indeed select him first overall. It was a little less romantic, but a neat way to end winter break, nonetheless.