Part III - Living Life with No Regrets - #15 Devan Spilker, Limestone Saints

Charlotte Hounds MLL
Another first class training camp weekend for Devan Spilker, in his quest to play pro lacrosse with the Major Lacrosse League Charlotte Hounds.  

It’s one thing to get your break fresh out of college when your physical conditioning and your skills are at their peak.  It’s quite another to be 31 years old and playing club lacrosse for the love of the game.  Your skills are pretty good or maybe the phrase is “good enough”.  Same can be said of your conditioning.  

Since being drafted in the later rounds by the expansion Hounds, Devan has had to work his butt off in the gym, literally.  He’s back in peak condition and so is his game.  He wants this!

The Friday night practice

Head Coach Mike Cerino and his staff pushed these guys hard.  That’s to be expected.  Anyone who played for Coach Cerino in their college days knows how tough he can be.  What impresses Spilker is the reaction of the Hounds players to the coaches and to each other, “I’ve never seen a team where a bunch of guys meet for the first time and we all know it’s for one goal, an MLL Championship.”  Devan felt great about his practice performance and so apparently did the coaches.

The Spilker thrill

American Legion Memorial Stadium

He will not forget Saturday April 14, 2012.  The Hounds hosted the 3rd annual ESPNU Warrior Classic at historic American Legion Memorial Stadium in downtown Charlotte North Carolina.  It’ll be their home field.  Built in 1934 and officially opened in 1936, it was the site of a major depression era speech in ‘36 by then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   It’s a city owned facility, seats 21,000 and the city staff has it ready for the pros.

The Warrior Classic featured games between NCAA Division I rivals, Syracuse vs Rutgers and University of North Carolina vs Hofstra.  The pro Hounds were decked out in Hounds gear right down to the shoes.   In Spilker’s words, “we were like rock stars”.  The turnout was more than expected with around 9,000 fans in the stands.  Between each half of each game, the Hounds players were on the field running mini clinics for youth teams from the Charlotte area.  They were also up in the stands signing autographs.  They spent the afternoon talking lacrosse with parents, kids and other fans.  

Devan and a Young Lacrosse Fan
Hounds ownership and management were happy too.  They sold a ton of seasons tickets.  Support for the game and the team in Charlotte was obvious.  Even guys who have played for other MLL franchises were impressed.

Back to work

Lacrosse is known as the fastest game on two feet.  When played with speed and precision, it’s a beautiful thing.  Ball possession and the transition game from defense to offense are critical components to success.  Lose the ball in the offensive zone and the transition to defense must be just as well played.  That’s what the coaching staff had them doing.  Up and down the field.  The best lacrosse teams brilliantly execute the basics of the sport.

What’s next

Saturday April 21, at Poly Prep in Brooklyn New York, the Hounds play their first exhibition game against the Long Island Lizards.  Based on practices and expectations, the coaches selected the traveling squad for this first go.  Devan got the call on Monday.  He got all choked up!  He's going to New York.  Spilker has done what's necessary so far, to earn the chance to prove his value in game conditions.  The former All American and Limestone College Saints great has a dream to play pro lacrosse and it's very much alive.  The next step is a big one.