The Power of Sports: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Stick

We make great journey’s as lacrosse players to games, camps, and tournaments, but we rarely consider the journey of a lacrosse stick. As a lacrosse coach who is commonly known as the Godfather of lacrosse in San Diego, Dennis Yeatman has been able to form a network of lacrosse brotherhoods and sisterhoods that extend beyond the boundaries of cities, states, and countries thanks to one traveling lacrosse stick. Throughout his over 50 years of dedication to lacrosse, lacrosse players have come to Coach Yeatman to receive guidance and direction; but it’s what Dennis Yeatman received early in his own lacrosse career that turned a young man into a true ambassador for the lacrosse community. 

Lacrosse Sticks Can Be More Than Possessions

When Dennis Yeatman was a spry young lacrosse player sprinting across the many fields where the sport was being played in Maryland, an All-Star lacrosse team from England came across the pond to compete against Dennis’s Severna Park HS team. While lacrosse was an extremely popular sport in Maryland during the 70’s, it’s popularity in England wasn’t comparable. Despite the massive difference in lacrosse’s prominence in England, the Brits gave Dennis and his Falcon teammates a fair contest that brought them together after the game. Dennis had a lacrosse player from the English team, Steve Fish, stay with him and his family. Steve and Dennis became great friends over the three day stay; and before returning to England, Steve traded a prized Hattersley Special lacrosse stick. This simple act of generosity, the gifting of a lacrosse stick from one player to another, is not an uncommon one but it is a powerful gesture that has a lasting effect on the recipient. Steve’s kind trade with Dennis helped direct him towards his later life of giving through lacrosse that has expanded the reach of the game to unknown degrees.

Creating A Lacrosse Hot Bed Far From Home

After playing and coaching lacrosse at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, the ship Dennis was on was transferred from Bath, Maine to be home-ported in San Diego. There was little lacrosse and no youth programs in the county where he now lived; but his love for the game, and knowledge of the infectious nature of playing lacrosse, pushed Dennis Yeatman to start the first youth lacrosse program in the area, Pacific Lacrosse. By giving the local athletes who had never played in or even seen a lacrosse game the chance to try a sport that got all of the players involved, Dennis Yeatman began his own westward expansion of the game he grew up playing. And the children who started becoming passionate lacrosse players in the area helped develop a thriving community by sharing the sport with others and bringing more participants to the Pacific Lacrosse. 

During the following years of coaching lacrosse in the San Diego area with Steve Fish’s lacrosse stick by his side, Dennis Yeatman saw an expanding population of boys’ and girls’ lacrosse players amass into a community. This growth led to more lacrosse players from the area getting the opportunity to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, and this includes all five of Dennis’s children. Competing at four different colleges around the country, Grant, (USC Lacrosse), Caroline (SDSU Lacrosse), Will & Anne Morgan (University of Maryland Lacrosse), and Jack (Providence College Lacrosse) all continued on the Yeatman legacy of being passionate athletes and dedicated ambassadors of the game. And as Dennis Yeatman’s children moved on to the next levels of lacrosse, he was able to be a fan, coach, and advocate of the game that had given him so much.

The Brotherhood of Lacrosse Players Lasts Forever

When the years of being a lacrosse coach seem to fly by season after season, it can be easy to lose track of time and fall out of touch. But Dennis was able to stay in contact with Steve throughout his entire lacrosse career as pen pals who would swap stories of their lives on opposite ends of the Earth and even had chances to meet up on a trip with their families . All the years of growing the lacrosse community in their respective areas allowed Dennis and Steve to both have plenty to tell each other of the triumphs and troubles they faced. And then, Dennis, after receiving a wooden lacrosse stick as a gift over 40 years ago, was able to send Steve one “letter” that trumped them all. With the help of the legendary lacrosse stick maker Alf Jaques, Dennis refurbished the tried and true wooden lacrosse stick Steve had given to him and restored it to its original glory. The wooden lacrosse stick had served Dennis valiantly for years as a reminder of the giving and inclusive nature of the sport; and after using that motivation to accomplish so much with Pacific Lacrosse in the San Diego area, it was time that the stick found its way home.

It would be quite the story book ending to stop the story there, but Dennis and Steve are still continuing their friendship and their lacrosse careers to this very day. There would be a grave disservice being done to both of them to not note how Dennis and Steve are relentlessly furthering the growth of lacrosse today.

Continuing the Lacrosse Growth in All Ways

As a lacrosse ambassador himself, Steve was able to play and develop the Croatian lacrosse team with the help of a gear donation from Dennis and Pacific Lacrosse. And there’s obviously still letters, phone calls, and emails going back and forth between these two to this day. But what Steve and Dennis both can admire, share, and appreciate together is how their friendship over the sport of lacrosse has been a giving one that continues to add to the lacrosse community. Dennis has players who he coached years ago bringing their own children to Pacific Lacrosse now, and watching these lacrosse families bud into a flowering fraternity of ambassadors of the game makes every second worth it. By applying the giving attitude that Steve Fish was able to form into a lifelong friendship with Dennis by handing over a lacrosse stick, Dennis has had an effect on the San Diego area that is an immeasurable one. Striving to teach life’s lessons to the athletes who come through his program, and worrying about the lacrosse aspect second, is the lesson that Dennis learned from that traveling stick; and it’s what keeps him going to this very day.