Gourley making his lacrosse points on foreign turf Westminster grad teaching English about the game

January 21, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

In a country long known for football, rugby and cricket, Dan Gourley is doing his best to break the mold and teach Englishmen how to play the sport he grew up with: lacrosse.

The Westminster High and Salisbury State University graduate is part of the English Lacrosse Union Developmental Program. He left for South London last September and will remain there through April.

One of 120 applicants across the United States, Gourley was one of 12 chosen to help spread the game of lacrosse throughout England.

"I was really excited to get the opportunity," the 22-year-old said. "It's been a great experience and something no one can ever take away from me."

His mission is to teach as many people as possible about lacrosse.

During the day, Gourley teaches as many as six 45-minute

sessions to elementary school-aged children.

He then switches gears in the evening and instructs London and Cambridge university students, along with other adults involved in recreation programs.

"Friends back home ask me what I'm doing over here and I tell them I'm getting paid to teach and play lacrosse -- you just can't beat it," he said. "The biggest reward is seeing the kids enjoy the game."

The sport has taken Gourley many places, including the NCAA Division III finals in 1991. In his four years at Salisbury State, he compiled 36 goals and 24 assists as a midfielder.

But his task in England may be his biggest of all.

"It's tough sometimes because they are so set in their ways. Soccer, rugby and cricket dominate here," Gourley said. "The kids over here are just mad about soccer."

The lacrosse program first got started 10 years ago in Manchester, where Gourley says the best lacrosse still is played. He says keeping the program alive for those who started it is a payoff in itself.

As for England, he said the people are "super nice." It seems to rain all the time, he said, and "the only thing in common with home is the language."

"When I first came over here, everything was so different. Now that I've been here awhile, I'm much more adjusted," he said.

"It took some time getting used to driving on the other side of the road. Sometimes I'd be driving along daydreaming on the wrong side."

Along with missing family and friends, Gourley most misses ESPN, Oreo cookies, Philly cheese steaks and college basketball.

"It really makes you appreciate things we take for granted in the States. I really miss my family and friends," he said.

Before he leaves, he'll get the opportunity to play with some of the best lacrosse players in the world when he joins a group of U.S. All-Stars who will go over to play an English all-star team in three exhibition games in March.

Among them is former Syracuse All-American Paul Gait, who now plays with the Philadelphia team in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

Gourley also plans to run the London Marathon in April.

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