BY MATTHEW ROLISON
Alex Patton, Puerto Rican senior midfielder has been selected to be a part of the 23-man roster for the Puerto Rican National Lacrosse Team. In July the team will compete at the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Men’s Lacrosse World Championship in Netanya, Israel.
The Puerto Rican National Team was awarded membership into the FIL over 14 months ago after finding 80 prospects, eventually dwindling down to the 23-man roster they have now. Patton is the only player in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) represented on the roster.
Patton first picked up the game of lacrosse during his sophomore year at West Hempstead High School in Long Island, NY. He was immediately hooked and fueled with the drive to work harder than everyone else since he started later than most lacrosse players.
“We weren’t a lacrosse powerhouse high school, so college coaches didn’t pay attention even when we did win games,” said Patton.
Patton spent two years at Nassau Community College in New York, a Lacrosse program known for excellence and the highest level of play.
“When I got there to tryout, there were 120 kids trying out for 45 spots, and to be honest, I wasn’t nearly good enough to be one of the 45, but the coach saw something in me that he liked, maybe it was my coaching ability, or my never-say-never work ethic,” said Patton
Patton was given an opportunity to shadow a player who ended up becoming a four-time All-American. After he left the program, it was Patton’s time in the spotlight.
“After he left the program, it was my time, and just from being with a person who had such a hard work ethic, in my fifth year of playing lacrosse, I had been awarded All-American, and had the opportunity to choose from over 20 colleges,” Patton said. “After reviewing all of my offers, the University of Tampa was undoubtedly the best option.”
In his first year at UT, Patton made the All-Tournament Team and was named Second-Team All-Conference.
Patton is in his third year at UT and will be competing for the starting face-off position on the team. Last year, Patton was not the main face-off player, but holds the most experience out of the rest of the players competing for the job.
“Face-off is one of the most important positions in the game,” said Rory Whipple, head coach of the Lacrosse program. “A strong face-off means more possessions and more chances to score.”
This will be Patton’s first experience playing for a National Team, an experience that only comes along once in a lifetime.
“Being able to represent a whole island of individuals with this great group of guys that we have on the team is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Patton said. “To throw on that flag on my back and compete against the best players from around the world gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”
Patton is looking to get a lot out of this opportunity, not just for himself, but also for Puerto Rico.
“I want to help shine light on Puerto Rico, a beautiful island that is still struggling to get back on their feet after being destroyed by Hurricane Maria,” Patton said. “Being on this national team helps me get involved with a lot of philanthropies that positively and directly help impact the community within this great nation.”
The opening ceremonies of the 2018 Men’s World Games are less than a month away. Alex Patton will be one of the 23 men running onto the field come game day.
“I’m not the stereotypical lacrosse, player,” Patton said. “I’m not that big, I’m not that fast. But, my will, passion and work ethic is something that helps separate me from competitors.”
Matthew Rolison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org