MANCHESTER, England _ Kevin Huntley jumps into a phone booth most weekends, whips off his business suit, pulls on his lacrosse gear and rushes away looking to bury one of his sidearm shots into the back of a net.
It’s all accurate except for the phone both, of course, but he does live the life of contrasts to which many elite lacrosse players have become accustomed.
The 23-year-old Team Canada attacker works weekdays in Maryland in the finance field _ a health benefits and soon-to-be payroll specialist _ and he also plays box lacrosse in winter for the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings and field lacrosse in summer for the MLL’s Toronto Nationals.
He’s the only player from the United States on Canada’s team, which is possible because his father, David Huntley, is from Toronto. His father also happens to be Canada’s head coach. Kevin also played for his dad in the NLL last winter, so it was a given Kevin would want to be on his dad’s team at these 2010 world field lacrosse championships.
“He’s been the biggest influence in my lacrosse career from the start,’’ Kevin says.
He first represented Canada at age 16 at the 2002 world under-19 tournament. A broken thumb ruined his chances of being on Canada’s team that won the 2006 world field lacrosse title. Now he’s making the most of this chance.
Kevin and David Huntley are the only father-son combination to be on two NCAA championship field lacrosse teams. The both attended Johns Hopkins University. Like father, like son. Kevin’s father has a job outside lacrosse in the field of finance as a pensions specialist in Maryland.
David Huntley grew up and played lacrosse in the Rexdale neighbourhood of Toronto and how he wound up at Hopkins is an interesting story.
His intention upon completing high school was to become an electrician. He was helping coach a minor lacrosse team when a youth team from Baltimore toured Ontario and stopped in Rexdale. One of the coaches from Baltimore liked the way Huntley handled the kids and it was obvious the OLA junior player had plenty of talent. So, when he got back home, he recommended Huntley to a friend involved in the lacrosse program at Hopkins.
The university got in touch with Huntley and asked if he’d be interested in enrolling. He had to ask where the school was located because he had no idea where it might be. His father had some vacation time coming up and they drove to Baltimore to check things out. They liked what they saw. The plan to become an electrician was shelved. The Hopkins lacrosse coach was happy to get a Canadian because, well, everybody knew Canadians could score goals.
During a frat party in his sophomore year, Dave met a young lady and suggested she drop by and visit another day. She did. When a buddy told him there was a girl looking for him, he asked of her name and it was Nancy, who would become his wife. So, Hopkins changed David Huntley’s life. He starred on the lacrosse field, got an economics degree that would land him in the world of finance in the pensions field, got married, settled in the United States and raised a family.
Although Kevin has always lived in the United States, his connection to Canada is strong. He became familiar with box lacrosse during summer visits with grandmother Barbara Huntley and his father’s brother and sister _ Brian Huntley and Carol Peterson _ in Toronto.
“My grandparents’ house was only a block or two from an outdoor box,’’ Kevin recalls. “I got to pick up on the culture and meet different and hang out at the box.’’
He played on Brampton team one summer during his teens.
Kevin nearly never made it in lacrosse.
“When I was younger, I started playing lacrosse and I was taking a beating,’’ he explains. “I quit for two years.’’
Then one day David Huntley was asked to coach a minor lacrosse team. He thought about it and this is what he said: “If Kevin will play, I’ll coach the team.’’
Kevin was back in the game. Now, Kevin is one of the best in the game.
During some free time this week, Kevin and his dad took a tour of the Old Trafford home of soccer’s Manchester United. They do a lot together. The parallel paths of their lives are part coincidental and part planned. <
“When I was going through the whole recruiting process, he wasn’t really that influential on where I’d go,’’ he says. “He wanted me to make my own decision. He didn’t push me to go to Hopkins.
“A lot of people think that he made me go there. If anything, he probably didn’t want me to go there but for whatever reason I just felt that Hopkins was a good fit. Then when I got to school there I think choosing to get an economics degree was partly a decision made by him. I struggled through a couple of classes and called him and said, `I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this.’
“One of the things he said was, `If you bear down and get through it, it’ll benefit you later in life.’ So I sucked it up and went for it and got the same degree he had.
“In terms of playing lacrosse, that’s something that every kid dreams of _ playing a professional