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Caradona shares his passion for lacrosse with Styx players

Kevin Caradona has a passion for lacrosse and as a coach in the O'Fallon Styx lacrosse program he hopes to instill in local boys his love for the game.

Caradona, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he picked up the sport while growing up in Bay Shore, N.Y., on the South Shore of Long Island. He explained he also played soccer and football while growing up but chose to concentrate on lacrosse "because in seventh grade I found the love of the game." 

"I did stick with football and I was recruited (by colleges) for that but lacrosse was where my heart and soul was," he said. 

Caradona, now a 41-year-old Navy Commander assigned to the Scott Air Force Base legislative affairs office, earned All-American honors twice while wearing the maroon and white of the Bay Shore High School Marauders. And in his senior year, the team compiled an 18-0 record, marking the school's first undefeated season. 

"We all had the attitude. We all had the love of the game. And many of us went on to Division I programs," he said. 

While at the Naval Academy, where he also earned All-American honors in lacrosse, Caradona played on successful teams as well. During two of his four years at the academy the lacrosse squad earned trips to the NCAA tournament. 

Discussing his decision to attend the academy, Caradona said as a senior in high school he was recruited by other colleges but he chose Navy because he wanted to do something different.

"Some other players from my high school team were already at Navy and I realized the culture and the attitude of the midshipmen was really different. I felt it would be a challenge for me," he explained. 

Caradona then offered praise for his high school coach. 

"When I go back home to Long Island, I tell my coach Rick Damore I probably owe him about $250,000," he said. "He saw something in me that I did not see in myself and he talked to my parents about me attending college. 

"I am one of 10 kids and we did not have money for college so when my mom asked how I was going to pay for college he told her I had ability Ñ and he helped me get tryouts," he said.

Caradona is now in his first year as head coach of the O'Fallon Styx Gold lacrosse team. 

Discussing the goals he has for players, the coach said, "I am dealing with some kids who have a few years of experience but I also am dealing with first-time players and what I am trying to do is instill the sportsmanship of the game, the honor and integrity of the game. 

"One of the founding principals for all lacrosse players is we hold you at a higher standard than other athletes," he said. "You need to do well in school. You need to be involved in your community. And you need to thank your mom and dad every day that they are bringing to practice and supporting you financially." 

He then pointed out, "You teach the overarching principals of lacrosse -- run, catch, throw, scoop, the basic movements -- so wherever they go to play lacrosse, they can fit into any program. 

"I also hope we can teach these kids and they will go on to coaching and pass on their love of the game," he added. 

Caradona, who with his wife Sally has three children: Hunter, 12; Bailey, 10; and Chase, 9, noted Styx Lacrosse is an all inclusive program. 

"One thing we don't want to do is turn kids away," he said. "That is why we have two teams (Blue and Gold). We can only carry 25 kids but my philosophy is you do not cut anyone. 

"You cannot tell a kid at the seventh and eighth grade level they are not good enough to play lacrosse. They are still developing themselves," he explained. 

"I ran into that scenario when I was in seventh grade. I almost got cut but I stayed after the games and played the fifth quarter and I learned the fundamentals enough that I could take it home and learn myself. Then I started to get better and grew into the sport and learned to love the game. So I tell my players not to get discouraged. Learn the game. Take it to heart. Practice when you can." 

He added, "There is no difference between Blue and Gold. When these kids grow up they are not going to be asked if they played Blue or Gold. What matters is your performance on the field at that time." 

Meet Kevin Caradona: 

* Do you have words you live by?

"Commitment makes the difference. You can carry that in sports. You can carry that in marriage. You can carry that in life."


* What is the last book you read? 

"'Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything' (by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner)."


* Whom do you most admire? 

"My high school coach Rick Damore. I hold coach in highest regard."


* If you could spend time with a famous person -- past or present -- whom would it be and why? 

"I like Warren Buffett right now. He has done a lot for world and community but he also is a good businessman. I probably could learn a few tricks from him."


* What do you do when you are not working? 

"I like to spend time with my family.... This is my first time in the Midwest and I am enjoying exploring St. Louis."


* What's the usual state of your desktop? 

"I have two stacks of paper: one that I am waiting on answers and the other one I have to start answering."


* What did you want to do career-wise when you were growing up? 

"I had a clam license from seventh grade on so mostly that -- and surfing."


* What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic? 

"I have a positive attitude. I get passionate when I get involved in activities or work. I keep life in perspective. And I have a good sense of humor."


* What irritates you most? 

"When someone goes into a task and does not give it 100 percent.... I just want to see 100 percent effort."


* What do you like the most about your job? 

"I am getting to start off with kids who have a clean slate and I am instilling lacrosse in them ... the roots of the game.... I am going to learn more from them than I can teach them."


* What do you like the least about your job? 

"When it is cold and rainy and I am still out here."


* What type of music do you listen to? 

"I listen to classic rock. I like 1980s. I like Raegge. I like a little Country."


* When they make the movie of your life, who will play you? 

“Yul Brynner. I have the bald look.”


* If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?  

"A lacrosse stick. I could probably do anything on the island with it."



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