Bellingham-Millis Lacrosse Co-Op a Dream Come True for Burgess

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

Millis High School senior Colin Burgess grew up in Mendon playing lacrosse for the town youth league. Having joined the program in the first grade, Burgess continued to play lacrosse up through the eighth grade. However, once he got into high school, he found that Millis did not have a lacrosse program and thus began to bother Athletic Director Chuck Grant on a regular basis hoping to secure a team.
“Once I got into high school, I kept on Mr. Grant about putting together a program, but there just wasn’t all that much interest, so I eventually gave up on the idea of Millis having a lacrosse team,” Burgess said. “When he told me that we were going to have a co-op team with Bellingham, I was beyond thrilled, and I immediately told my friends. Originally, seven were interested, but only three who had previous lacrosse experience actually signed up to play.”
Playing as the Bellingham-Millis Hawks was a dream come true for Burgess, even if it was only for his senior season, but having not picked up a stick since the eighth grade showed that his skills had diminished when practices began.
“That first day I was pretty rusty, having not played the sport in about three years, but when Coach (Steve) Linehan focused on basic drills easing us back into the sport I was relieved,” he said. “He not only acclimated us back into the game of lacrosse, but was very patient with the Millis kids.”
Prior to the merger with Millis, Bellingham had an athlete that was going to take on the goal keeping responsibilities although he’d really preferred not to.
“I had some previous experience playing goalie on my youth teams so I decided to take on the position for the sake of the team, besides the other kid was more valuable to the team elsewhere,” Burgess recalled.
Playing for the Mendon Youth League, Burgess had previously played attack before giving goalie a shot, something that he was interested in trying.
“I had shown interest, and our youth team needed a goalie,” he said. “There is not a lot of people who want to put their body in front of a hard little ball coming at you fast – they’re afraid of getting hurt.”
According to the Linehan, Burgess was a standout player for us, especially playing in his first varsity season.
“I didn’t know what to expect from him. In Bellingham, it has always been a challenge to get someone to play the goalie position,” the Hawks Coach said. “Although he hadn’t played the position since his youth and was away from the game, the last few years he stepped in and played fantastic. He never complained about his work load and what he had to do to help the team.”
Settling in as a first-year goalie playing on a lower level team in the Tri Valley League he took a lot of shots stopping 199 shots or an average of 12.5 a game.
“I was not expecting much from Colin. I was just glad to have someone who was willing to play the position,” Linehan said. “He took a lot of shots, probably around three times as many as any other team.”
While the Millis athlete had not played the game in some time, he knew that he had to not only improve his technique in the next, but also needed to control his emotions.
“I did improve my defensive skills,” he said. “But with lacrosse being a high scoring game, I would get frustrated at times when I was scored upon. I had to leave that moment in the past, shake it off and get my mind back into the game.”
Last spring as the Bellingham Blackhawks the lacrosse team found themselves on the winning side of the score only once. This season with the three Millis players the squad not only equaled its win total in the first game of the season (an 11-4 victory during a rain storm at home), but finished the year with a 6-12 record.
“Although not knowing fully what they went through last year getting that first win was a great thrill for the program,” the Millis High athlete said. “During pre-season our goal and total preparation was to get that first win in the first game of the season – we accomplished that.”
Getting that win was the team’s first goal, the second was to go out and secure more wins than any previous Bellingham team and with those 6 victories, the Hawks accomplished another goal.
Individually, Burgess’ only goal coming into the season was to have fun, and he certainly did that; he only wished that it had happened earlier. Next fall he will be heading to Norwich (Vermont) University with the hopes of continuing to play lacrosse with a co-op team.