By Erika Wentzell | 9/22/12 9:08 AM
MLL rookies often have a whirlwind first season which begins just as their college careers come to an end. We gave rookies Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet a few weeks to catch their breath before we caught up with them to see how everything is going. The pair became a famed dynamic duo on the University of Virginia’s lacrosse squad; in almost all scenarios Stanwick passed it and Bocklet scored it, just that simple.
These players have even more in common than just their on-field chemistry. Both come from lacrosse families where all twelve of the collective siblings play lacrosse.
The Bocklet family grew up playing backyard lacrosse, with older brothers Matt and Mike forming one team who faced off against Chris and younger sister Casey. Chris warns not to be fooled “She’s my younger sister but she’s tough so I had my hands full with her.” Chris says that he always looked up to his older brothers and cites them as his role models in lacrosse. Family has always been important to Chris who is extremely grateful to his father for supporting his lacrosse dreams, “He would go to all my games, drive me all over the place and travel anywhere to see me play.” He added that his dad would make the fourteen hour drive from New York to Virginia to see him play in college, even when he barely stepped on the field freshman year. The Bocklets are still keeping it in the family; Chris got the opportunity to be teammates with older brother Matt this season on the Denver Outlaws. “He’s such an amazing player and being able to share the field with him in the same uniform was the highlight of my summer.”
Steele Stanwick also has a lacrosse playing family. Ok, perhaps brood would be a more fitting description for this clan. Steele’s siblings Sheehan, Wick, Coco, Tad, Wells, Covie, and Shack are all exceptional lacrosse players. When asked which sibling had the coolest name, Steele tried to remain diplomatic but eventually declared Shack, the youngest of the Stanwicks, had the best. As for growing up with so many fellow laxers Steele said “It was always just really fun for us growing up. It was a great way for us to spend time together and it’s something that I think we all kind of pushed each other in. It was definitely some bond that we all share and looking back it’s something that we are all thankful for.” Steele also named his older brother, Tad, as the person he most looked up to in lacrosse.
Stanwick and Bocklet both had stand out careers at UVA, acquiring over 100 goals each. They knew they had something special going as soon as their sophomore year got underway. Stanwick remembers “being out in the fall and just always having a guy to pass to, it was always Chris. I thought to myself, wow this is pretty cool I wonder if we can do something pretty cool here.” And if you consider leading their team to an NCAA Championship title in 2011 to be pretty cool, then you could say Steele was right. Bocklet also remembers sophomore year fondly, recalling “being two sophomores leading the attack, you don’t see that a lot in college lacrosse so it was a great time playing with him.” Stanwick called Bocklet opportunistic and said “He’s got special hands and he’s a great shooter. For me as a passer I look for guys like that and he complimented me very well.”
The duo had such a strong playing chemistry that it’s not surprising they became fast friends. Chris said “me and him had a connection I wouldn’t just say on the field but off the field as well. He’s one of my great buddies.” Steele demonstrated the banter between the two of them “Chris is a prankster. He’s gotten me a few times, once he put crickets in my apartment. He usually stayed away from me though because he knew I wouldn’t pass him the ball if he was mean to me.”
Now in the MLL, the two friends face each other as opponents on the field. Stanwick was traded to the Ohio Machine during the season while Bocklet is playing for the Denver Outlaws. When asked if it was strange to play against each other the pair agreed that it was different but a lot of fun too.
As for their rookie seasons, both Bocklet and Stanwick were surprised at how quickly they found their groove with their respective new teams. Bocklet expressed “I couldn’t believe how easily everyone was friends with each other and created relationships. It was just a real team vibe and every game was playing with all your friends while playing hard and competitive.” Stanwick had similar sentiments about his Machine teammates; “I came in about half way through the season and for me coming in it was really easy to get along with everyone. It was a great team, great group of guys.”
The transition from collegiate lacrosse to the professional level can be a bit daunting, especially considering the time frame this occurs in. Stanwick gave the rundown of his transition. “I would say the speed and the physicality of the game are the two biggest changes that you see. Pretty much everyone you’re playing is an All-American so overall it’s just a bigger, faster, stronger league.”
Each of the players were able to choose one game experience as their best memory from their first season. Bocklet’s was the Outlaws’ epic comeback against the Long Island Lizards, “that was one of the coolest games I’ve ever played in and the biggest comeback I’ve ever been a part of.” Stanwick went with his first MLL win, “beating the Hamilton Nationals up in Canada. Winning at that level is hard to do, and I was only part of one of the wins so that was probably my best memory.”
If you’re looking for Bocklet this off season he will be the offensive coordinator at Wheat Ridge HS and working for Wild Lacrosse. This winter he will be living and snowboarding on Breckenridge Mountain. As for Steele, he says he may sign with a lacrosse company but admits he is in no rush to figure it out right now.
Looking ahead for next season both Bocklet and Stanwick are looking to get stronger and better for their second MLL seasons. As for offseason improvements Chris said he wants to work on his dodging while Steele would like to become more of a vocal leader on his team. You can be sure that both of the talented players will only continue to improve in the MLL next summer. After all sophomore season is where it all began for these two the first time, maybe lightning will strike again in 2013.
About Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league, was founded by Jake Steinfeld and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Major League Lacrosse commenced play in June of 2001 and will enter its thirteenth season in 2013. MLL has continued to lead the sport of lacrosse into the mainstream of competitive team sports. The league is made up of eight teams: The Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Denver Outlaws, Hamilton Nationals, Long Island Lizards, Ohio Machine and Rochester Rattlers.