Pro Lacrosse Player Jeremy Sieverts
A Player And A Coach, Major League Lacrosse All-Star, Jeremy Sieverts, Embraces Bot Roles
Written by Kelli Gillespie
Life isn’t always what you expect it to be, and how you manage those unpredicted expectations can oftentimes be the difference between sweet success, and devastating defeat. On and off the field professional lacrosse player Jeremy Sieverts has lived out this valuable lesson. From being a high school state champion, to having his college program disbanded, sitting the sidelines, and starting in the pros, his story is one centered on support and prayer. Risen spent a day with this Major League Lacrosse All-Star to learn more about the sport, his off-season coaching, and how there is no substitute for hard work.
Interviewed Exclusively for Risen Magazine at Santa Fe Christian High School in Solana Beach, California
Risen Magazine: Growing up in Maryland, you started playing lacrosse at very early age. How did you get into it?
Jeremy Sieverts: I started playing when I was about four or five years old. My dad played. Baltimore is a hot bed for lacrosse so I grew up playing lacrosse and soccer. I didn’t know which sport I liked more, but I was always a bit better in playing lacrosse than I was at soccer. I just always loved the different dynamics of the sport and the physicality of it – the stick work, shooting and everything like that. As I got into high school I realized [lacrosse] is what I wanted to play in college and pursued it.
Risen Magazine: What was your family like growing up? Were they supportive, did you have siblings that played?
Jeremy Sieverts: Absolutely, my parents are certainly supportive of anything I do really. But my dad, like I said, also played lacrosse. I have an older sister, Jenna, two years older, and we probably couldn’t be more different. She’s not really into sports. I remember when I was younger my dad would go to two soccer games in the morning, a lacrosse game at night and maybe a Caps game [NHL’s Washington Capitals] or something. We would be running around all day Saturday to different sporting events.
Risen Magazine: Why is lacrosse so exciting and how did it capture your heart?
Jeremy Sieverts: I think the coolest thing about lacrosse is that it combines a lot of different aspects of a lot of other sports. It has the physicality of football and hockey, but you play on a field the same size as for soccer. I think what makes lacrosse so unique is that you have a stick that is yours – you can personalize it pretty much however you want, you can string it however you want, make it throw however you want – and [that stick] is really an extension of your own self. It’s very unique in that aspect and there is no other sport like that. [Also] just the different type of athlete you have to be – a lot of the movements in a half-field offense are a lot like basketball, but again, you have to get up-and-down the field like a soccer player. So there is a lot of agility, but also the longer running you have to be able to do as well. Lacrosse requires this combination of athleticism that makes it different than the other sports.
Risen Magazine: Lacrosse is still a fairly new sport to the West Coast. Being from Maryland, was becoming a professional lacrosse player always at the top of your list?
Jeremy Sieverts: When I was younger there wasn’t a professional league. The league has only been around for about 13 years. So my dream was to play in college. And once I was able to play in college then playing professionally certainly became something I wanted to work towards. I just kind of stuck with it for a couple of years until I got the opportunity and my chance to play in the league.
I think the coolest thing about lacrosse is that it combines a lot of different aspects of a lot of other sports.
Risen Magazine: You can’t really get a better high school experience than having your team ranked #1 and being state champions. What is a favorite memory from those few years of playing?
Jeremy Sieverts: My senior year we had a great team. We were fortunate enough to be coached by our high school coach since we all were probably about 10 years old. His son was a couple years younger and always played with us. Because this group of us grew up playing together, by my senior year we had a great team. We ended up with a record of 22-1, and won the MIA Championship. It was just an unbelievable way to cap off my high school career. It was a great memory being on the field as the clock ran down and we were up by a goal. It’s something I will never forget.
Risen Magazine: You go on to play at Butler University which ends up cancelling their lacrosse program; what happened?
Jeremy Sieverts: I really felt I could be a part of the rebuilding of Butler’s program. I think I was pretty high on Coach Ross’ [Men’s head coach at Bulter at the time] radar and felt very comfortable with him and the other coaches there. I just really wanted to be part of something special and turn the program around. Unfortunately, as a result of lack of finances and budgeting they decided to cut off our program in January of my sophomore year. Then I transferred to [University of] Maryland… certainly a big step up from Butler, and another step along the way to my career in Maryland.
Risen Magazine: You went from a school with a few thousand students to a school with nearly forty thousand. What did that transition look like?
Jeremy Sieverts: Well it certainly was a different end of the spectrum as far as college experiences go; moving from a small school in the Midwest, to a big school in Maryland, and even though I had lived in Maryland, I had only been down [to the university area] a handful of times. But the transition period was very quick. I basically decided to go to University of Maryland on a Sunday night, flew home on that Wednesday, and was in class on Thursday at Maryland. Kind of a wild time as far as transitions goes. But the coaches and my teammates in Maryland were great during that period helping get my feet under me on campus with new classes, and everything like that.
Risen Magazine: How are you typically when it comes to handling change, and stress?
Jeremy Sieverts: I kind of didn’t know what to expect. Now, looking back when I think about it, man, I definitely went through a lot. But I just kind of rolled with it and tried to keep it all in perspective and understand [that] it’s just another step in the process of my life.
Risen Magazine: From lacrosse, to school, to your personal life, what role has a relationship with God played?
Jeremy Sieverts: I have been very blessed to be raised in a Christian home. My parents took my sister and me to church since we were young. Probably the coolest thing for me has been Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Just being able to combine lacrosse and my faith is something that has been huge in my walk as far as my relationship with God and building relationships with other people that have same faith background as I do.
Risen Magazine: When you were going through this transition time of schools and working toward going professional, was it prayer, mentors, or what that helped get you through?
Jeremy Sieverts: A combination of all. Obviously a lot of times I think you’re not really sure what the next step is but I learned, especially recently, that the Lord doesn’t give us the whole picture. He gives us one step at a time. And when that door opens, you walk through that door, and if it’s not the right thing you turn and walk away from it. I continue to learn daily and those were a lot of lessons I especially learned going through transferring from Butler to Maryland, and then after college.
Risen Magazine: Looking at your pro career so far and guessing it’s not exactly how you envisioned it, being drafted, not playing for a year, being traded and then exploding last year with honors including being named 2012 MLL All Star, MLL Most Improved Player and making the US Men’s National Team, what kept you motivated? What kept you focused and looking for that one opportunity to show your stuff?
Jeremy Sieverts: I definitely thought that maybe I should kind of pack it in and just play Men’s Club Ball, and just enjoy that. But there’s something about it I guess, I just wanted to be a part of it and I knew if I got an opportunity, it would work out for me. And fortunately, Tony Seaman, the General Manager for the [Denver] Outlaws was looking out for me and picked me up in a trade. At this time last year, I was just hoping I would get to dress and play in the first game for the Outlaws. I had really no idea of what was going to happen. I felt like there were pretty high expectations for me. I went from a team that wasn’t going to keep me on their team at the end of the season, to getting traded for a high profile player and getting protected by the Outlaws; so there was a little bit of pressure faced there. But last summer, my performance on the field went far beyond anything I could have imagined or dreamed. Like you said, I played in three games prior to that over the course of two years, had a few points; but then last year just blew up. Fortunately, I have great teammates and unselfish guys and I really felt an important piece of the puzzle for the Outlaw’s success.
Risen Magazine: How do you maintain a healthy mindset balance?
Jeremy Sieverts: I think trying to stay humble as much as I can. You hear people all the time say that the two hardest things to handle are failure and success and I’m in a very different position this year than I was last year, but it doesn’t mean it’s any easier. I think this [upcoming] season will be very different. I’m not going to surprise anyone so I’ll be on everyone’s radar and that just presents another challenge. I’m certainly looking forward to it and getting back out there with my teammates.
Risen Magazine: What advice would you give to someone just getting out of college looking toward their career and maybe their plan is not aligning with their expectations?
Jeremy Sieverts: I’m living proof of that – what I expected life to be like, and how it doesn’t always turn out that way. Having a faith background, and putting my faith in the Lord, and just knowing at the end of the day he’s not going to lead me astray, but he’s going to walk me down the path that I was meant to walk down, is a lot of times easier to say than to believe. But [the experiences] just continued to build that relationship, and that trust in the Lord to walk you down the path.
Risen Magazine: Do you have a favorite devotional or what section of the Bible are you currently reading?
Jeremy Sieverts: Actually right now I am reading through Proverbs. I was recently going through the Gospel. My mom sends me a devotional every morning by Max Lucado, which I enjoy. It’s very light hearted and nice to wake up to.
Risen Magazine: How does lacrosse compare to other sports, like golf or football, where some athletes get together for Bible study or to lean on each other for support?
Jeremy Sieverts: Right now the nature of professional lacrosse is that we don’t get to see each other that often. We see each other on weekends, for a few practices, and then on game day so it really doesn’t lend itself for a time of fellowship. Some guys do [get together] if they live in the same areas, but I travel by myself most of the time. There are definitely other Christian guys that I interact with, and I coach FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] teams during the summer. Those are great guys to talk to and some serve as mentors and friends.
Risen Magazine: How long have you coached in FCA?
Jeremy Sieverts: I’ve been involved with FCA since middle school. Starting as a camper, then in high school I started coaching and continued throughout college. At some point or another during the summer, I found myself coaching an FCA team. From Florida to Vail, and Toronto, it’s been a huge blessing to travel with them so much and do something that I love.
Risen Magazine: Speaking of coaching, in the off-season you live in California and coach high school lacrosse at Corona Del Mar. How did this come about?
Jeremy Sieverts: Through a mutual friend, G.W. Mix, who used to coach at Penn [University of Pennsylvania], and Franklin and Marshall College. He runs a recruiting camp in Baltimore were I was working in his camp, and then about a year-and-a-half ago, around Thanksgiving, he called me and asked if I was interested in coming to coach in California. I didn’t have a whole lot going on so I decided, Why not? It can’t be too bad. And now this is my second season coaching at Corona Del Mar. And actually, after I had decided to move out to California, is when I got traded to the Denver Outlaws, so it just kind of all fell into place. Traveling from California to Denver isn’t too bad of a flight, just a couple of hours, which is much better than having to travel regularly from Baltimore to Denver.
Risen Magazine: Working with young men, what’s one of the biggest struggles you see that needs addressing?
Jeremy Sieverts: I think there are a lot. I feel there is a lot of pressure on high school boys and how they define themselves as a young man. I think the definition of what that is, is very skewed from what it should be. If you read Joe Ehrmann’s book, InSideOut Coaching, it talks a lot about that. Many people define what being a man is by things that shouldn’t matter – whether it is financial success, or success on the athletic field, and stuff like that. I think understanding the true definition of what a man looks like is something that a lot of young guys struggle with currently. To me, what defines a man is his character, his faith, and is his serving of others… again something that is much easier to talk about than to actually live out.
Risen Magazine: Who then was that example of a what a man should be for you?
Jeremy Sieverts: I would say it’s my dad for sure. My dad coached me some growing up. I remember a lot of the talks we would have after games – handling different game situations, teammates, or other coaches, and referees – stuff like that. Things that stick out to me are those talks where I really learned a lot when I was younger and it really kind of shaped me and how I handle myself today.
I learned, especially recently, that the Lord doesn’t give us the whole picture. He gives us one step at a time.
Risen Magazine: Knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would go back in time and give yourself?
Jeremy Sieverts: There are probably a million things I would tell myself, but mainly, that there is no substitute for hard work in lacrosse. That’s something I try to stress a lot in my coaching. You can’t fake it. When people work hard, it pays off for them.
Risen Magazine: How would you hope your next few years, or even further, look?
Jeremy Sieverts: One thing I realized in the past year-and-a-half is that I love coaching lacrosse. I just love the interaction. I think being with a team over the course of a season is very different than coaching a team in a tournament, because you can see a long term development within individuals, and more importantly, the team. It’s something I really enjoy and I find it challenging and it’s also something I think I’m pretty good at, so hopefully I can always be involved coaching whether it’s full-time or part-time. I just love the sport of lacrosse and being involved.
*Special thanks to SFC Lacrosse Coach Paul Richardson and Risen team members Henry Ortlip and Cristina Lopez for their help in preparing this article.
Exclusive interview originally published in Risen Magazine, Summer 2013