By Sean Desmond | 6/18/13 10:38 AM
Mike Stone has spent the better part of his organized lacrosse career giving goalies headaches, giving defenders nightmares, and giving fans a reason to cheer every time he hits the field. Now, in his third season as a professional for the Boston Cannons, Stone is finding a way to give something off the field.
A small town kid from Wellsley Massachusetts, Stone found his way to the lacrosse field at an early age. Just a fifth grader, Stone picked up his first stick and has yet to put it down.
"I was one of the first players to go through our youth team," said the Cannons' sniper when asked about how he first found the game "I didn't know much about the sport at first, I had uncles who had played and were very good lacrosse players. I just kind of fell in love with it as soon as I started playing."
During his time in high school, what had started as love for a game, had evolved into Stone’s first true passion. Despite his successes as a high school athlete, Stone was overlooked by most division one programs due to his lack of size. That doubt by other colleges is what led the 5-11 midfielder to a school that would ultimately change his life, Middlebury.
Considered to be one of the elite teams at the division three level, Middlebury presented an opportunity for Stone to contribute to a program that could compete for a national championship. During his time at Middlebury Stone won the honor of NESCAC player of the year twice. He finished his career averaging 3.17 goals per game during his senior campaign.
Stone is one of a new wave of professionals who played college lacrosse, not at the most prestigious of division one programs, but at the lesser known schools of division three. Stone is joined by teammate, and Endicott College graduate, Eric Haggarty as division three representatives on the Cannon's 2013 roster.
"I wanted to make sure I was going to a school that had great academics, as well as a good lacrosse program. Middlebury was a team I had talked to early on in the recruiting process and that I had chosen to stay in touch with throughout [the process]. The more I looked around, the more it seemed that going there would be a great fit. Even though it was division three, it was a very high level of lacrosse and a great school as well. I'm very happy I went D-3, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Despite being extremely productive during his time in college (172 careers points), the three-time All American was once again overlooked. Although he expected to be drafted in the primary draft, it took until the ninth round of the 2010 supplemental draft for Stone to finally be selected.
"I didn't get drafted right out of college which was obviously disappointing. I eventually got picked up in the later rounds of the supplemental draft, so I was entering the league a little bit sour that I hadn't been picked up earlier...It ended up being a positive though because I got to start the season with the team as opposed to coming in halfway through. I got to go through training camp and show my coaches and teammates that I could play and compete in the MLL. My first couple of seasons were a bit frustrating and I felt like I could be doing more, but I was getting my shot."
The hard work and effort for Stone on the lacrosse field came full circle when he was invited by the Cannon's coaching staff to be a member of the active roster for championship weekend in the Summer of 2011. A weekend that ended with the Cannons taking home their first championship in franchise history.
Like most lacrosse players, Stone knew playing the game which he was so passionate for was not going to be a professional career that would support him for the rest of his life, even if he did make it to the professional ranks. The Cannons' star now stands atop his profession on the field, Stone considers what he does off the lacrosse field to be his next great challenge.
Stone is a giver by nature, and while his goal heavy stat sheet may not always reflect that character trait, his work off the field is a direct reflection of his desire to help those in need. Stone is the president of an organization called GivingSomeThing, the goal of which is to have users give goods directly to non-profit organizations. In today's internet centered world, people have been forced to become more cautious when it comes to donating online in any capacity. GivingSomeThing provides users a unique service, they are able to donate specific items to organizations as opposed to giving funds and now knowing how they will be used.
"The best analogy I've got to describe GivingSomeThing is that it's like an online wedding registry for non-profit organizations. Non-profits sign up and we give them an account on the site, then they can post their specific needs so that users can see the products that they can donate. So if the organization needs a laptop, or books, or toys they can search for whatever they need and add it to their list. Donors can view that non-profit's needs and get some insight into how the company operates."
Stone says that this is beneficial to both giver and receiver for several reasons. The user is able to see exactly what is being donated to the organization as opposed to wondering how a cash donation was being used. Organizations who join GivingSomeThing are able to select and request exactly what they need to be donated and have them delivered directly to their front door. Non-profits can also thank the individual by posting pictures of how donations are being used.
Stone's efforts off the field reflect well not only on himself, but also the sport of a lacrosse as a whole. Major League Lacrosse has countless players involved with charitable organizations, and just as many others are involved with youth lacrosse programs across the country. GivingSomeThing currently has over 200 non-profits signed up on their website, and Stone and his co-workers are dedicated to increasing that number in the near future.
“The reason we really started it was to make that connection and connect donors and non-profits at a high level, as well as let donors know how their money was being used. I think the goal for our company is that we want to be the staple donation platform for non-profits and donors. So when people go to give or to look for more information on an organization and their needs we want them to think of GivingSomeThing, and we want to do it in a socially responsible way.”
If there is anything that can be learned from the efforts of Stone and the countless other MLL players involved in charities, it is that we can all give a little more.