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Like & Share:How One Coach Changed My Life

 

Coach Mike Greene (red brimmed hat)

Ray Carnicelli #10, Canton ATC at Coyne Field- Syracuse, NY

 In the spring of 1986 I was in the middle of my senior season of lacrosse in high school when Coach Mike Greene approached me as I left the field at Holland Stadium in Auburn, NY. When he asked me what my plans were for college I realized at that late date, I had none. It wasn't that I didn't want to go to school or that colleges were not interested in me as a goalie. The problem was to say that I had a poor academic standing would have been a gross understatement.

Ray Carnicelli- Auburn Maroon Goalie, Sub-standard Student, 1986

At the time I had never heard of Canton Agricultural and Technical College, SUNY Canton. Canton was a Junior College, more famous for their JUCO hockey tradition than lacrosse, or anything else for that matter. Located in St. Lawrence Country in northern NY, the school was overshadowed by its better known neighbors, St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University, and SUNY Potsdam. In terms of continuing my lacrosse career, this was the only choice I was aware of. While a few well known colleges with decent lacrosse traditions had expressed interest in my playing ability, my grades were a show-stopper. I wanted to attend Cortland State and join the Red Dragon tradition that included a National Championship and perennial participation in the Division III playoffs. No offense to my alma mater, but at the time Cortland was not the most difficult place to gain admission. I managed to be denied despite the efforts of the lacrosse coaching staff.

 

Canton #41 Scott Boomer 1987, 2nd Team All Ivy-1989 Cornell University

When Coach Greene of Canton handed me his business card, he told me of his plans to build the program, and his belief that I would prosper on the field and improve my academic standing enough to broaden my college lacrosse options. Sold! Still in communication with the coaching staff at Cortland, they agreed that this was the right decision. Filling out the application by hand and dropping it in the mail, I was on my way.  I arrived on campus that fall, never having visited the school. After all, what was the point of a visit as I had no other choice? I loved every minute of my time in Canton. We played a competitive schedule that included a trip to Maryland to play JUCO stalwarts; Catonsville, Ann Arundel, and Essex Community Colleges. I played well, my team did well, and my grades improved. Interest from four year schools started to increase. While I returned to Canton for the fall of my sophomore year, my heart was set on playing at a higher level that upcoming spring season.

 

Cortland State- 1990

One of the hardest things I have had to do at that point in my life was to tell Coach Greene that I would not be returning to Canton for the spring season in 1988. I had been accepted to Cortland and I would be joining the Red Dragon lacrosse program that January. He pleaded with me to reconsider. His motivation was not as much about him losing his starting goalie as it was his belief that I was limiting my options. He believed that another JUCO season and improved grades would open a few Division I doors or at the very least additional DIII options. My mind was made up and I was leaving Canton and on my way to Cortland State.

 

From the time I started playing organized lacrosse in 9th grade, the sport has always been integral part and a driving factor in some of the most important aspects of my life. Despite my poor academic high school career, playing lacrosse kept me out of serious trouble as I knew any major slip-ups would eliminate my ability to participate. I loved playing high school lacrosse and competing with the best players in the world in the Onondaga League in Syracuse, NY. I have told you about how the sport provided me with an academic lifeline at Canton. The sport allowed me admission to Cortland with “special talent” consideration. Believe me, there were bumps in the academic road during my time there as well. Being on academic probation following my junior season and the threat of not being able to play even though I was on track to be a starter, was a great motivation to attend summer school and get my grades in order. I was able to overcome the scholastic adversity and graduate on time; a BS degree four years after realizing Canton was my only option.

 

Academic Wake-up Call from Dean Burdick (saved as a reminder to this day)

I had first thought about seeking a Masters degree after actually doing well in school during my senior year at Cortland. Following graduation in 1990 and my relocation to Jacksonville, I took the GMAT placement test thinking that an MBA was something that I would strive for. That goal would have to wait but once again, the sport of lacrosse seemed to intercede on my behalf. As I was contemplating my move to Florida, I contacted US Lacrosse to find out if there were any opportunities to play “down there”. In the pre-internet days of the early 90’s, getting this type of information required letters, phone calls, and what seemed like endless Private Eye work. I called the US lacrosse headquarters in Baltimore whose phone number was located within their oversized Lacrosse Magazine of the day.

Jacksonville Hooters/ Armadillos- 1994 Florida Lacrosse League Champions

They put me in touch with the Orlando Chapter, who then put me in touch with the Jacksonville Club president, who then put me in touch with local player Scott “Scooch” Cleary, who invited me to join the team. I joined the Armadillos in the fall of 1990. By the spring of 1991, an Armadillo teammate had arranged job interview for me with his employer. In May of 1991, I was hired by the same firm that still employs me these 25 years later. Chalk up another example of lacrosse significantly and positively impacting my life.

 

Coach Matt Kerwick and Coach Brian Duncan- 2010

When I was asked to join the Jacksonville University coaching staff as a Volunteer Assistant for the 2010 season, I was thrilled to be able to get involved. During Coach Matt Kerwick’s tenure as the Head Coach, he organized an event that was held in the Terrace Suites of the Jacksonville Jaguars' stadium. The purpose of the event was to bring together members of the community to discuss with the young Dolphin lacrosse players how our college sport’s experiences had positively affected our lives. I was honored to be invited to share my story….some of which I have shared with you here. One person I met at the event was a member of the Board of Trustees at Jacksonville University. During our conversation I mentioned to him that I had recently applied to the MBA program at JU but that my GMAT scores (I had just retaken them 20 years after the first time), didn’t quite make the grade. He mentioned to me that because of my business experience and my volunteer work at Jacksonville University, he would recommend me for conditional admission. In addition to the Trustee, a Jacksonville University Professor who I had met through a lacrosse connection also recommended me for admission. Late in 2011, I was granted a conditional admission to the Davis College of Business, registered for classes, and was officially a Jacksonville University student. I graduated from Jacksonville University with a Masters in Business Administration in 2015. Nearly 29 years after a lacrosse coach threw me a lifeline and allowed me to continue my educational pursuits and my lacrosse career; lacrosse connections assisted me on my journey to an MBA, not to mention the opportunity to pursue my Bachelor Degree, a professional career in business, and the many lifelong friendships developed along the way. For that I am grateful. Thank you Coach Mike Greene.

Ray Carnicelli- 10/17/16

MBA 2015 with President Tim Cost

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW COACH MIKE GREENE'S INFLUENCE EXTENDED TO SOME OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS OF ALL TIME- CASEY, RYAN AND MIKEY POWELL

After three nights of watching her two oldest sons play, wearing knee pads and Casey wearing Chuck Taylors on his feet, Mike Green, who ran the league and coached at SUNY Canton, told Larry and Susan that their kids were going to be All-Americans.

"You think they're that good?" Susan Powell asked her husband after dropping Casey and Ryan off one night.

Winters were cold in Carthage, N.Y., where Mike, Casey and Ryan grew up. (Courtesy Sue Powell)