A look at the University of Tampa’s new lacrosse-exclusive stadium
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Name: Naimoli Family Athletic And Intramural Complex
Namesake: The Tampa Bay Rays’ first owner and a chairman emeritus of UT’s board of trustees, Vince Naimoli was the primary donor for the field located on Kennedy Boulevard between North Boulevard and Willow Street.
Location: 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602
Year Built: 2013
History: The University of Tampa added men’s lacrosse to its athletics department in 2012. The team hired Coach Rory Whipple to lead the team in its first NCAA Division II campaign with the Deep South Conference. The university will add varsity women’s lacrosse in spring 2014.
Did you know? Naimoli Family Athletic And Intramural Complex is the first lacrosse-only field in NCAA Division II and one of the only fields used exclusively for college lacrosse in the nation.
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On the Field: Mikey Morris, Jake Rooney & Bobby Calhoun
An interview with three of the lacrosse team’s newest members
How did you get into lacrosse?
Bobby: My football coach started the lacrosse program when I was in the seventh grade and that’s how I got into it. I was a running back and he said I should come out and play midfield.
Mikey: Back home in Canada it’s pretty big so kids start pretty young. My dad played box lacrosse, so I started when I was 2 years old, I started playing. From there it took off. I played box up until I came down to the states. I didn’t play outdoor lacrosse until the ninth grade when I moved to Connecticut and played field there as well.
Jake: I started in the fourth grade. My mom grew up in upstate New York and played box when she was younger so she kind of got me started.
What was your first impression of the Naimoli Sports Complex?
Bobby: The first time I saw it, it was under construction and wasn’t opening until this year. I was just amazed. It’s an amazing facility with the downtown area surrounding it.
Mikey: I didn’t see it until about five days ago. When I saw it, I was mind-blown.
Jake: I saw it this summer when I visited and I was comparing it to all of Division 1 stadiums that I saw and it was just as good if not better than half of them.
What was your exposure to Tampa before transferring to the university?
Bobby: I grew up in Palm Beach on the east coast so coming to Tampa, I new there were great sunsets and a great university. It was a strong university that had my academic background. I’m majoring in athletic training.
Mikey: I’d never been to Tampa but I’d been to Florida once or twice so I didn’t know what to expect. I came here and expected hot weather and a lot of fun.
Jake: Both of my parents are alumni of Tampa so I’d visited the school when I was younger and never thought much of it until I went up to the northeast and realized how bad the weather can get. I came down here and I loved being near the beaches and the water.
What went into your decision to transfer to Tampa?
Mikey: I didn’t really have anything academically at Johns Hopkins that I was looking forward to and I knew they had a good sports management program here so I decided to pursue something I wanted and had an interest in.
Bobby: I wasn’t happy with the school I was with up north and I had some family health issues so I had to come closer to home.
Any superstitions with you stick?
Bobby: I always get a fresh tape job. I actually have a troll that lives in my stick, honestly.
Mikey: I string my own sticks. I haven’t let anyone touch mine since about the fourth grade. I always string it with a high pocket.
Jake: I always string my sticks and I always sleep with it right next to my bed. I always make sure that when I lay it down or against a wall that the pocket isn’t up against the wall or anything. I hate when people do that.
What’s the best field you’ve ever played on?
Jake: Probably this one. I’ve played just a couple practices but I’ve never played somewhere with a downtown skyline like this.
Mikey: M&T Bank Stadium and the Carrier Dome in Syracuse
Bobby: Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University and UT
How about your least favorite field?
Jake: I can’t remember the name of it but there was this high school field in Baltimore and there was rain and sleet and muddy.
Mikey: Trinity Pawling in upstate New York
What’s one team you can’t wait to play this spring?
Bobby: NYIT (New York Institute of Technology)