Sharing a Love of Lacrosse in the Emerald Isle
Last summer, rising sophomore Benjamin Preul ’18 seized the opportunity of a lifetime: Traveling to Ireland with Legacy Global Sports, he spread his passion for the game of lacrosse while experiencing a different culture.
Preul learned of the opportunity through Norwich head men’s lacrosse coach Neal Anderson and conferred with his father about going. “I thought it would be cool to travel overseas and play lacrosse, and I honestly didn’t think [my dad] would support it, but he said, ‘Just do it,’” Preul says.
At the airport, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native noticed that many of his teammates were from Springfield College, Dickinson College, and St. Lawrence University, and he assumed that the competition for positions would be intense. “At first I thought it would be hard to get along with my teammates, but everyone was very friendly,” Preul says. “We were all in it to enjoy the trip, visit someplace new, and play lacrosse.”
The team stayed at the University of Limerick. Prior to the start of the games, the U.S. team got together for a training session. It didn’t take long for Preul to show his skills on the field. “One of the faceoff guys broke his foot a week before the trip and couldn’t play. Coach was looking for a replacement, so I volunteered.” Evidently, Preul made a good impression. “Coach appointed me the new faceoff guy,” Preul says.
The next day, Preul’s team played in a tournament featuring four local Irish club teams, including the host team, Limerick. “The competition wasn’t at the level I was expecting—fast-paced and physical,” Preul says. “Instead, it was almost like [we were] a college team playing against a high school. Since the game is new to the country, [the competition] was more for them to learn the game and help it grow. They kind of idolized us, as we could shoot twice as fast as they could,” Preul adds.
The games took a backseat to the social and cultural exchanges that occurred, with lacrosse the common denominator. After each game, the Legacy Global Sports team hosted the opposing team, and when the competition ended, the Irish players taught the Americans the game of hurling, a sport of ancient Celtic and Irish origin dating back 3,000 years. Played with wooden sticks, hurling is considered to be the world’s fastest field sport. “It is quite similar to lacrosse in a way, but it was a tough sport to play,” Preul says.
While visiting Dublin, Preul and the Legacy Global Sports team also took on the Irish National Team in a friendly game. “They were mainly a bunch of older guys that just love the game and continued playing it over the years,” Preul says. “They didn’t have a full roster, so we loaned them some of our guys and enjoyed a good time.”
Besides Dublin, other tourist attractions included a parade at the Limerick Racecourse (complete with fireworks), and trips to the Croke Park Stadium, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Guinness Storehouse. “We also visited the Burren walking tour and had a tour of Galway,” Preul says.
“Not everyone gets a chance to travel and help grow the game of lacrosse,” Preul says. “I would strongly encourage anyone to share their passion for the sport they enjoy.” – JEFF DOBBIN