NH players live the (pro) lacrosse dream
McKinley Sbordone and Devon Parker each debated retirement but both decided they were not quite ready to hang up their lacrosse sticks for good.
Sbordone, an Amherst native, won the inaugural United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX) championship with the Long Island Sound last spring. The Boston University graduate thought seriously about calling it a career in the offseason but decided to come back for the league’s second year.
Sbordone, 30, could not pass up the opportunity to continue playing, grow the sport and join the four-team league’s lone New England franchise: the Boston Storm. The league’s other two franchises are the Baltimore Ride and Philadelphia Force.
Parker, of Rye, graduated from Syracuse University in May and originally was unsure if she wanted to pursue playing in the UWLX after college. A few familiar faces helped Parker, who logged 48 career points (35 goals, 13 assists) at Syracuse, decide to join the Sound.
Long Island hired Syracuse associate head coach Regy Thorpe as its head coach in April. Parker’s former Orange teammate, Halle Majorana, played for Long Island after graduating last year and rejoined the team this season. When Parker asked her about the league, Majorana explained how much fun she had playing for Long Island last year.
Parker, an attacker, joined the Sound (4-0) and made her professional debut in Long Island’s 10-9 victory over Sbordone and the Storm at UMass Amherst’s Garber Field on June 9. The game was a rematch of last year’s championship contest, which Long Island won 13-8.
“At first, I was a bit nervous...Then there was a point I realized this is a sport I love. I’ve just got to enjoy it,” Parker said. “All my teammates were there to have a good time doing what we like. That made it enjoyable.”
The loss to Long Island marked Sbordone’s first time playing against her former teammates.
“It was so much fun,” Sbordone said. “The nice thing about the league is nobody takes things too seriously. Everyone is competitive and loves to win and make it fun and grow the game.”
Sbordone, an attacker, largely came off the bench for the Sound last season but has become a vital part of the Storm’s offense and one of its leaders this year. She led Boston (2-2) with nine goals entering the team’s 18-8 loss at Philadelphia Friday night. Sbordone scored five goals in nine games with Long Island last year.
Sbordone credited her teammates, including former BU teammates Danielle Etrasco and Sarah Dalton, for her scoring outburst so far.
“You can’t score without having people help assist you,” Sbordone said. “The team is working together and those two certainly know how I play in terms of offense.”
While they spend weekends playing for their respective teams, Sbordone and Parker both have work commitments during the week.
Sbordone is the assistant general manager of Hampshire Hills Athletic Club in Milford and runs the Granite State Elite club lacrosse program with her mother.
Parker is spending the summer working for a restaurant in downtown Portsmouth before moving to California in August to begin her career as a production assistant on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The UWLX pays its players on a per-game basis and provides reimbursements for travel costs. The players also receive equipment from league sponsors like Nike and STX.
Parker has played in only one game so far due to work commitments but said she is going to try to make as many games as possible the rest of the season.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge but I think coaches understand,” Parker said. “It will be worth it because the game I went to last time was very fun.”
Sbordone’s experience juggling all three of her commitments last season has helped her find the right balance this year. She enjoys seeing the young Granite State Elite players get excited about the UWLX and become fans of the league.
“That’s been so fun with the league because the little girls are so invested in it,” Sbordone said. “I think it’s so exciting because they can see a longer future than just playing in college.”
While they play on opposing teams, Sbordone and Parker’s goals for this season are the same. Both want to help the league grow while enjoying the opportunity to continue playing the sport they love.
“Anything to keep a lacrosse stick in my hand,” Parker said.