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Transition to college lacrosse not so easy


Wilmington native Charlie Archer started 11 games for the Jacksonville (Fla.) University men's lacrosse team in 2012. Photo courtesy Harry Archer


Lacrosse is trending upward as a sport in the Southeast. Two years ago, it became a high school association-sanctioned sport in North Carolina. Despite its growth, though, lacrosse locally still doesn’t enjoy the mainstream sports level it has in its hotbeds of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States and Canada.

Before its recent growth locally, Wilmington native Chris Archer and his family were willing to take a different path in order to realize his dreams of becoming a legitimate collegiate prospect.

“Cape Fear Academy was great and I would have loved to stay home in Wilmington,” said Archer. “But in terms of my lacrosse future, but no matter how good the team was or no matter how far we went, no big colleges were going to come down and give us a look in the south for recruiting purposes.”

Archer finished his high school career at Woodberry Forest, a Virginia boarding school. With the opportunity to play against better competition, Archer thrived and eventually earned a scholarship at Division I Jacksonville (Fla) University.

“I remember the first time I saw my name on a roster and I just thought, ‘I’m on the Jacksonville lacrosse team,’” said Archer, who started 11 games in 2012 as a freshman. “It was the happiest moment of my life. I was playing Division I lacrosse. But most importantly, my parents spent a lot of time and money to help me in any way which made it all worth it and I’m forever thankful.”

For a typical college freshman, there is a period of adjustment while transitioning to independence for the first time. After living on his own for several years, Archer took on a new role when he arrived on campus: surrogate mom.

“Guys would ask me to do their laundry for them because they had never had to do it. I was also able to cook for myself,” said Archer, now the “Master of the Grill.”

“After having a rotation of the same food, you learn how to cook, which definitely made it an easier transition.”

The transition on the field was not so easy. Despite starting as a freshman, he found himself on the bench by halftime in several games.

“I hadn’t experienced that at all,” said Archer. “It was very frustrating. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my parents but they assured me to not worry and keep my head up. They were definitely right.”

Archer also confided in one of his coaches. As a player, Adam Silva was named to the Patriot League All-Decade team for Army. His advice boosted Archer’s confidence and, as a result, his play on the field.

“Other coaches gave me generic, ‘We believe in you,’ assurance. But he was the first person to give me a reason why was being benched,” Archer said. “He told me that they were trying to keep everyone fresh and even he was in a four-man rotation his senior year. It made me feel a lot better and it meant a lot to hear that from him.”

Determined to stay on the field more as a sophomore, Archer added 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season. He’s again slated to start, but now knows there are no guarantees for playing time.

He’ll get his first shot at expanding his role when the Dolphins open the 2013 season on Feb. 10 in Durham to take on Duke.

“I want to beat Duke really bad,” said Archer, the only North Carolinian on the Jacksonville roster. “We played them well last year and I believe we have improved as a team. I’m hoping we can sneak up on them and win.”