Max Seibald '09 emerges as a break-out star of pro lacrosse
Max Seibald '09 emerges as a break-out star of pro lacrosse
With ten seconds remaining in the third quarter of an April 2007 men's lacrosse match against Brown, then-sophomore Max Seibald '09 took a shot that appeared to sail just over the goal's crossbar. Upon closer inspection, a referee found that Seibald had shot the ball so hard and so fast that he tore a hole through the net. It was one goal of one regular season game, but it was a sign of bigger things to come.
By the time he graduated, Seibald had established himself as arguably the best lacrosse player ever to wear the Big Red jersey. He'd garnered four NCAA playoff berths, including two Final Fours and one national championship match—the latter a heart-breaking one-goal overtime loss to Syracuse in 2009. He'd twice been team captain, including serving as the second solo captain since 1965. He was a four-time All-American, only the third player in the 120-year history of Cornell lax to achieve the honor. And he won the Tewaaraton Trophy, collegiate lacrosse's equivalent of the Heisman, awarded annually to the top player in the country.
Seibald's success in the sport had an unlikely start. Although he hails from Long Island, long considered a hotbed of lacrosse, Seibald didn't have access to youth or school programs in his hometown of Hewlett. It wasn't until he attended Camp Starlight, a sports-oriented summer camp in eastern Pennsylvania, that he first held a stick. By the time he was a senior, his high school finally had a team—and Seibald led it to a 19-0 record and a Nassau County championship.
By then, he'd caught the eye of more than a few collegiate coaches, including Cornell's Jeff Tambroni, who first saw Seibald play at an Empire State Games tryout featuring the top fifty players from Long Island. "He was a little bit raw, but as athletic and big and strong as anybody on the field, and anyone we saw that summer," recalls Tambroni, now at Penn State. But as Tambroni notes, pure athleticism—a package of size, speed, and strength—could make for a merely good player. To be great required two other elements: coachability and selflessness on the field. Seibald possessed both, plus a six-foot-one, 200-pound frame and a 4.38-second forty-yard dash, on par with the best running backs in the NFL. He was willing to do the dirty work—going for ground balls, killing the clock by running the ball, or taking heat from opposing defenders so teammates could make plays and score goals. "He's the consummate team player," says Mike French '76, MPS '78, captain of the 1976 undefeated national champion Cornell men's lacrosse team.
Within a week of winning the Tewaarton Trophy, Seibald was drafted second overall by Major League Lacrosse's Denver Outlaws. There he became team captain, led the Outlaws to the league championship match (they lost—by a goal), and played in the All-Star game. As the outdoor season came to a close, Seibald—who lives in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan and travels to games each weekend, as many players do—joined National League Lacrosse's indoor Philadelphia Wings, co-owned by French. Most recently, Seibald played for Team USA, which he helped lead to the gold medal in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in England (in 2014, it comes to Denver); he was also named to the All-World Team. "I'm glad I never had to game plan against Max Seibald, to watch highlight clip after highlight clip," says Tambroni. "Watching what he's capable of doing is nothing short of a nightmare."
'I'm glad I never had to game plan against Max Seibald, to watch highlight clip after highlight clip,' says former Big Red coach Jeff Tambroni. 'Watching what he's capable of doing is nothing short of a nightmare.'Seibald has become the rare lacrosse player who is a full-time professional. Most pros hold down a "real" job that pays the bills, playing in their spare time. Lacrosse simply isn't a big enough sport on a national level to enjoy the popularity—and big budgets—of Major League Baseball. It remains a regional game, with pockets of popularity in places such as Maryland and Long Island. Only a select few players have become marquee names, such as the Powell brothers, the Gait brothers— and Seibald. But lacrosse is also one of the fastest growing sports in the country. According to a study commissioned by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport's national governing body, participation since 2001 has more than doubled, with often double-digit growth rates from year to year. Still, the raw numbers remain small. Denver may attract 10,000-plus fans per game, while other locales may have trouble pulling in 5,000 spectators.
Seibald, Tambroni, and French agree that's not going to change overnight—but breakout stars like Seibald may be exactly what the sport needs. Like the Powells and the Gaits, Seibald is a household name within the lacrosse community, but he could potentially have the crossover appeal of a Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. Nike has signed him as a sponsor and is featuring Seibald in a TV commercial. The "Today" show profiled him in advance of the World Lacrosse Championships. But whether or not he becomes a household name, Seibald says he's enjoying the ride. "I love the game," he says, "and I'm making the most of it."
— Peter Bronski '01
October 2, 2010
It may not have been artistic, but the football team's 21-12 win over Bucknell broke a string of 10 consecutive losses and gave head coach Kent Austin his first victory at the helm of the Big Red. Cornell turned the ball over four times and committed 10 penalties, but a strong game by freshman quarterback Jeff Mathews (15 of 28 passing for 180 yards), an effective wildcat offense, and strong defensive stands when they were needed got the job done. Injuries kept running backs Marcus Hendren '11 and Grant Gellatly '14 out of the game, but Nick Booker-Tandy '12 rushed for 61 yards and Luke Tasker '12 had 115 all-purpose yards. Mathews was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week, and punter Drew Alston '11—who averaged 40.5 yards for six kicks—was honored as the Special Teams Player of the Week.
TOP RANKED After finishing second in the nation last season, the Cornell wrestling team begins 2010-11 as the country's top squad according to one poll, the WrestlingReport.com preseason NCAA tournament scoring ratings. The Big Red had seven wrestlers ranked in their weight class and two who placed in the top two. In the website's dual percentage index, Cornell was third behind Oklahoma State and Boise State. The Big Red grapplers open the season with a home dual meet against Central Michigan on November 19, followed by the Body Bar Invitational at Newman Arena on November 20.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS The women's hockey team has no chance of repeating its surprise success story of last season—this year, everyone expects them to be good. A year ago, Cornell went from being picked seventh in the ECAC to winning the league crown, advancing through the playoffs, and losing the national title game in triple overtime. This year, the team is the consensus preseason favorite of the ECAC coaches, earning every possible first-place vote. Cornell also dominated the preseason all-league team, with forwards Rebecca Johnston '11 and Catherine White '12 and defensemen Laura Fortino '13 and Lauriane Rougeau '13 taking four of the six spots.
BIG RED READING March 2010 was a magical time for Cornell basketball, and now you can relive it. A new book, Blueprint for Success: Cornell Men's Basketball 2009-10, commemorates the season that resulted in a third-straight Ivy title and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Produced by MomentumMedia, headed by Mark Goldberg '81, the book has 92 pages of pictures, comments from players and coaches, and excerpts from local and national media. It's available for order at MyTeambook.net.
ALL STATES When Laura Skladzinski '07 finished the Minneapolis Marathon on June 6, she completed more than a 26.2-mile run. She became the youngest woman to run at least one marathon in all 50 states—and it took her just over two years to do it. Skladzinski came to distance running late, starting with short runs during a summer internship her senior year. She ran her first marathon, the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon, in May 2008, the first of 12 that year. Skladzinski broke the 50-state age record by a large margin, completing the feat at 24, five years younger than the previous record holder.
TOP COACH After leading Cornell to its best IRA performance in 30 years, director of rowing Todd Kennett '91 was named the 2009-10 Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Coach of the Year. The Big Red had four boats in the IRA finals and the varsity-eight boat finished third behind top-seeded California and Washington. That performance helped the varsity-eight earn a share of EARC Crew of the Year honors with Harvard.
HOMETOWN HERO Few college athletes have the privilege of being selected in a professional draft. Fewer still are drafted by a hometown team. But Ryan Hurley '10 beat those long odds when the Minnesota Swarm made him their third pick in the National Lacrosse League draft. A native of Eagan, Minnesota, Hurley finished his Cornell career with 140 goals, second best in school history.
ISLAND TIME Hawaii may be a vacation paradise for some, but for Cornell pitcher Rick Marks '12 it was a field of dreams. Pitching for the Kamuela Paniolos, Marks led the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League with 42 strikeouts in 44 innings while walking only 16. He finished the season with a 4-1 record and 2.08 ERA, fifth best in the league, and was named to the Makai Islanders All-Star team.
NEW STAR Cody Bremner '14 comes to the Cornell lacrosse program after earning second-team All-Canada box lacrosse honors over the summer. He was also a finalist for the title of Canadian National Junior of the Year. Bremner had 10 goals and 13 assists in eight postseason games for the New Westminster Salmonbellies after finishing fourth in scoring during the regular season with 36 goals in 19 games for the Nanaimo Timbermen. He also helped his team at Claremont Secondary School win back-to-back provincial titles and played hockey for the Nanaimo Clippers.
MEDALISTS A pair of Cornell squash players returned from the 2010 World Junior Team Championships in Quito, Ecuador, with bronze medals. Playing on the Canadian team, Arjun Gupta '13 and Nick Sachvie '13 both won five-game matches in a 2-1 win over England to secure third place. Overall, Sachvie went 4-2 and Gupta 3-2 for the Canadians, whose only loss came to eventual champion Egypt in the semifinals.
Max Seibald's Nike Commercial (0:17)