Anderson: The best kind of Outlaw
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL ” Some of the best lacrosse players in the country gather every July in Vail.
And then they leave.
Neil Anderson was one of those top players who came for the Vail Lacrosse Shootout. While Anderson did come and go, he somehow wound up back in Vail again. And, of course, he brought his lacrosse stick with him.
Recently, Anderson landed a spot on the Denver Outlaws lacrosse team ” his second Major League Lacrosse team. Before moving out to the Vail Valley, Anderson played for the Boston Cannons.
“I had no expectations going into this year,” Anderson said. “When I left Boston last year, I had no intention of playing again this summer. In January I gave a call, and asked if (the Outlaws) would be interested.”
Anderson made the squad as a midfielder, despite a daunting tryout roster.
“You look down the list and you recognize everyone as a couple-time All-American from college,” Anderson said. “In Boston we had a good midfield, but we had good attack and defense. Here the emphasis is more on midfield. We have a lot of good midfielders.”
Because of the large number of midfielders, Anderson wasn’t able to get much playing time in the Outlaw’s first scrimmage.
“If after the first four to five games, I can find my way into the lineup, I’ll stick with it,” Anderson said. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll have to look at the cost-benefit analysis.”
During the week, Anderson works for the Vail Police Department in municipal codes. The Outlaws’ is a weekend commitment, so Anderson can still live in the area and play on the squad.
During his college career at the University of New Hampshire (where the team was dropped) and then Merrimack College, Anderson came out to Vail, but didn’t think he’d come back.
“I remember sitting on top of the gondola, drinking beers and throwing horseshoes,” Anderson said. “Five years later, I found myself out here.”
After graduating, Anderson picked up his masters in education, while his girlfriend picked up a masters in nursing.
“We were toying with the idea of moving away from New England, and I said, ‘I’m a big snowboarder, and she’s a big skier.'” Anderson said. “Vail (Valley Medical Center) randomly gave my girlfriend a call, she interviewed and they then hired her on the spot.”
Anderson quickly fell in love with the area.
“It’s everything we were hoping for,” he said. “I’m already missing snowboarding.”
When the snow started melting, Anderson got his stick out to help some local players.
“I did a coaches clinic and players clinic down in Gypsum,” Anderson said. “And I worked with the (high school teams) a little bit.”
Since graduating from college, and even while playing professionally, Anderson has given back to the sport, coaching at the collegiate level. Eventually, Anderson would like to get into teaching and coaching.
As much as Anderson enjoys living in the mountains, there is one small downside: He doesn’t have the competition or practice partners he’d have in Denver or back home.
“I go down to Miller Ranch, pull out the cage and shoot around,” Anderson said. “If I’d been on the East Coast, I’d play every weekend since January.”
Like any good player, Anderson didn’t need much time to get back into the swing of it.
“When I went down (for tryouts), I didn’t know what to expect, but I did really well,” Anderson said. “It got me excited to get back in there.”
Next weekend, the Outlaws head to Chicago to take on the Machine.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.