Inside Man is a report written by Penn junior Ted Rawlings that takes you inside the world of Penn athletics. In addition to being a goalie on the lacrosse team, Ted is also a member of the Penn sprint football team, a manager for the men’s basketball team and an announcer for the women’s basketball team. This week, in his final post, he pays tribute to the graduating men’s lacrosse players.
In the words of the great entertainer Billy Joel, “This is the time to remember, ’cause it will not last forever. These are the days to hold on to.”
And in the wake of the recent tragedies both on campus and within the tightly knit lacrosse community, those words hold even more value. It’s in these moments that, as an individual, you look around at the people you surround yourself with every day, and realize how fortunate you are to be associated with such great men and women.
Last Monday marked the day of Commencement for the University of Pennsylvania class of 2010, which meant saying goodbye to those people. And many were my closest friends – not just on campus but in life. Of that group, I shared a lacrosse field and the majority of my last three years with 11 of them: Ryan Bailey, Chris Casey, Tommy Dodge, Chris Harms, Tom Jackson, Joe Kelly, Justin Lynch, Rob McMullen, Brendan Saxon, Todd Tewksbury and Mark Wright. I proudly call them brothers.
Ironically, in a profession of the written word, words can’t truly give justice to the mark this group has left during their four-year tenure at the University of Pennsylvania. However, I’ll muster together a feeble attempt.
Ryan Bailey: The biggest New York Yankees fan I’ve had the pleasure to converse with that is not actually from the city (or even the state). Perhaps it was our similarities – I’m a Cowboys fan from Philadelphia – that helped us get along so smoothly.
Chris Casey: The only person on the team who truly knew the misery of standing in front of shots fired from seven yards away by Al Kohart, Morgan Griff, and Kevin Reed, among others. The best goalie I ever had the fortune to back up and share the field with. And though he may have been “200 years too late,” Dirt redefined what it means to be a pirate. Also, a phenomenal wingman.
Tommy Dodge: Probably the man most responsible for my shift in music preferences, as well as the toughest defensemen I’ve ever played with. And while his lacrosse abilities were strong, it will be even tougher to find a better dancer at a rave party. I am just happy to have recently discovered that he gets his moves from his old man.
Chris Harms: The only New York Giants fan I can willingly stand. The nicest person you’ll ever meet and an undervalued lacrosse player during my first two years at Penn. Also, owns one of the most extensive and polished shoe collections in University City. And finally, his father hosts outstanding graduation parties.
Tom Jackson: TJ has been my right hand man defensively for three years. If you ever run into him, ask him how it feels to accidentally hit a coach in the head with a lacrosse ball. An unbelievable and unrecognized leader though, who, for three years, was always there to pick up my spirits following a goal I gave up – which happened regularly.
Joe Kelly: He never ceased to amaze me with his lacrosse skills. General sports fans always seemed baffled at his talent despite his lack of the traditional athletic build; a true warrior and amazing captain. Also, he was a great corn-hole player and had solid dance skills, though his brother Pat still has his number.
Justin Lynch: If lacrosse wanted to steal the NBA’s slogan “Where Amazing Happens,” Justin Lynch would be one of the advertised players. A ridiculously dominant face-off middie who I actually prayed was on my scrimmage team every day. Moreover, just as Joe Kelly was, Justin was one of the best captains and overall leaders I have ever played for. Also not to be dismissed are his construction and grilling skills – cooks a better burger than Bobby Flay.
Rob McMullen: I have been documented multiple times as labeling Rob McMullen the best attackman in the Ivy League. Now, perhaps the coaches of the league did not fully agree with me, but I stand by my assertion. McMullen was a great finisher who had a breakout year in 2010. I’m no offensive genius, but it’s going to be difficult to find a man-up replacement. For me personally, it’s also going to be tough to find a more dominating corn-hole teammate than Rob.
Brendan Saxon: Sax is the most undervalued defenseman in the Ivy League. We’ll just blame that on his straight-laced personality. Like Harms, Brendan is one of the nicest people I’ve ever been around. After having the luck of being his roommate multiple times this season, I also discovered Saxon’s unique ability to captivate an audience through storytelling. The best thing about Saxon, however, has to be his secret enthusiasm for cheesesteaks.
Todd Tewksbury: I guess since I am not an Eagles fan, that makes Todd the team’s true ultimate Philadelphia sports aficionado. Tewks, like Sax and Harms, is just a genuinely nice person – which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the three lived together. He was a great personality to have on the sidelines during the game and that presence will be missed. Tewks, however, has an even greater skill: building corn-hole tables. Credit him for the team’s obsession with the backyard sport.
Mark Wright: Mark “Marky Mark” Wright was the left hand man (so to speak), alongside me and TJ for the backup defense, while quite literally being my left hand man on the sidelines. Yes, he was the man who stood to my left during games and shared my obsessive compulsion for sideline etiquette. We both figured if we can’t do our part on the field, we might as well be a service on the sideline. And his invaluable non-lacrosse related skill: technology. Coach Doc is forever in debt.
Next year, it’s going to be difficult running 300-yard shuttles without Joe and Justin pushing us to make our times. It’s going to be rough standing in front of 10-yard shots from the wing without Chris there to joke about it afterward. And it’s going to be tough playing man-down defense without TJ, Mark and Tewks. Talking football without Harms and Bailey and cheesesteaks without Dodge and Saxon won’t be the same, nor will joking about Philadelphia without Rob. But I still wish them all the best of luck, knowing that in these coming days, I won’t be saying goodbye, but rather, “See you later.” For “we’ve been through a lifetime and the aftermath,” and so inevitably, this is the time we’ll turn back to, and when we all do, we’ll have to laugh.