Stone learns to adjust to indoor lacrosse
When Mike Stone returns for his fourth professional season with the Boston Cannons in April, the traditional outdoor net, measuring 6 feet by 6 feet, will likely appear to be the size of the Grand Canyon.
An All-American while at both Wellesley High and Middlebury College, Stone has scored 13 goals in five games with the Boston Rockhoppers, playing their inaugural indoor season in the North American Lacrosse League.
His target is smaller — indoor lacrosse nets are 4 feet by 4 feet — and the goalies appear a lot bigger with their bulky pads. But Stone has adapted well to the more narrow confines of the synthetic carpet on Rink 1 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough.
“Not very long ago I had no clue how to play the indoor game,” said Stone, a Major League Lacrosse All-Star with the Cannons last season. “But over time I’ve learned how to put myself in the right spot when our ball carrier comes off a pick and in a good position to receive and shoot, not unlike basketball.”
The rules for indoor lacrosse, also called box lacrosse, allow for a goalie and five field players who take short shifts, as in ice hockey. There is a 30-second shot clock and play is stopped infrequently.
Outdoor lacrosse teams field a goalie, three defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards.
Rockhoppers head coach Jack Piatelli, whose first-place 4-1 squad is hosting the second-place Baltimore Bombers on Sunday, said conditioning is a major factor when playing indoor lacrosse.
“You’re going nonstop and you’re running from one end of the floor to the other,” Piatelli noted.
His roster also includes one of Stone’s teammates on the Cannons, defender Jon Hayes of Waltham (Western New England University) and Norfolk native Ryan Hoffmeister , a forward who played at Hartwick.
“There are more stoppages of play outdoors and so you have time to catch your breath,” Piatelli said. “Playing indoors is much more demanding on your upper body.’’
Commenting on Stone’s contributions, he said, “Mike has the smarts and the skills and once he got his legs under him, he’s been hard to stop.
“He’s a team leader and an unselfish player and he enjoys educating some of our younger players who are making the same transition.”
Stone was a two-time New England Small College Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Middlebury, where he played with Needham High graduate Steve Hauschka, who was a place-kicker for the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks last season.
Stone received his indoor initiation in 2010 with the Boston Blazers of the National Lacrosse League, a team that has since suspended operations.
“I spent most of the time on the practice squad. It was a tough adjustment and frustrating at first,’’ said Stone, who has added 30 pounds since his days as a 145-pound defensive back for the Wellesley High football team. “But I worked hard at learning the strategy and the basics. I watched film. I listened to my coaches. I knew what to expect this time around.”
Away from the arena, Stone is founder of GivingSomeThing, an online donation platform enabling individuals to send real goods to nonprofits.
He is also giving back to youth lacrosse.
Along with Hayes and another Rockhoppers teammate, Malcolm Chase, Stone will teach players ages 7 to 15 at a vacation-week clinic at Babson College, running Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon.
For information on the clinic, contact Primetime Lacrosse, 781-235-6100. The owners of Primetime Lacrosse, former Babson lacrosse teammates Tyler Low and Jason Wellemeyer, sponsor the Rockhoppers.
Five decades at Globe
John Vellante wanted to be a sports writer from the first day he walked into the office of his hometown paper, the Waltham News Tribune, as a 16-year-old sophomore at St. Mary’s High.
Vellante, 68, whose career at The Boston Globe spanned five decades, died Monday after a yearlong battle with leukemia.
He worked under six sports editors at the Globe, and wrote a popular bowling column that endeared him to anyone familiar with the 7-10 split; his favorite assignments included the 1999 Ryder Cup and Major League Baseball’s All-Star game at Fenway Park, along with the 1975 World Series.
“John made the trip with us to Fargo, North Dakota,’’ to cover the Division 2 Final Four in 1992, recalled Bentley University women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens. “He was very fair in his reporting and at the same time genuinely cared about our team,’’ she said.
“John was a class act in the field of journalism.”
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