The Scoop Winter 2016 - Page 22

Where Is He Now?

Former MBYLL Athlete Craig Bunker

Of Tri-Town "Tribal" Youth Lacrosse

Story by Jonathan Sigal

2000s

2003-2007

Started playing

lacrosse in grade school

for Topsfield Youth Lax

Attended and played lacrosse for Masconomet Regional High School

Was a three time

All-Americal at

Colby College

22 The Scoop / Winter '16

If you caught a Boston Cannons game last year, odds are you couldn’t help but notice number 22 wrestling for possession at the face-off X. The man under the helmet was Craig Bunker, a Colby College alumnus who was named to the 2015 Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game.

With lightning quick hands jumpstarting Boston’s attack, the 26-year-old paved the way for commanding leads as well as inspired comebacks. Regardless of the outcome, Bunker was at the center of it all, and much like the kids in attendance, fell in love with the game at a young age.

Bunker was a three time All-American at Colby, but his journey with lacrosse began way back with Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse League. He joined Topsfield Youth Lacrosse while in grade school and it's a decision that has led to a praise-worthy journey.

“Our first practice I vividly remember that nobody caught a single pass,” Bunker said with a laugh. “Balls were flying over the place, hitting the walls, but being a part of Topsfield Youth lacrosse and participating in MBYLL certainly grew my passion for the game.”

Also a baseball and football player, Bunker decided in eighth grade to devote the springtime to lacrosse and he hasn't looked back since.

Topsfield, which is now known as Tri-Town or "Tribal" Lacrosse, provided him with the environment to develop relationships with the very kids he would eventually thrive alongside at Masconomet Regional High School.

“In elementary school, you strictly go to class with the kids in your town, but in playing lacrosse I was able to interact with and know kids from other towns who eventually were my teammates in high school,” Bunker said. “It’s funny to think that from the time we were young until we were 18-years-old, we developed camaraderie and friendship over time.”

Bunker also recalls growing under the watchful eyes of coaches, many of whom were fathers of those on his Topsfield teams. They had experience with soccer, football, and basketball (among others), but MBYLL gave them the training and education needed to teach lacrosse the right way.

Bunker reminisces on the skills and intangibles his MBYLL coaches helped to hone. Blessed with natural talent, he focused on the fundamentals and learned how to be a part of something bigger than himself.

“Some of the things I learned were the fundamentals: how to scoop a ground ball, how to properly catch and throw,” Bunker said. “Also the teamwork aspect, the mental toughness of working through issues, diversity, and work ethic. All of those skills were developed when I was in the youth program and I think it’s a true testament to the work that MBYLL puts in.”

With an ever-growing hunger for lacrosse instilled in him at a young age, Bunker dominated the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) while at Colby.

On top of his All-American nods, he earned NESCAC First Team honors in three seasons and received an All-New England First Team recognition. Bunker won 689 of his 1,045 face-offs, picked up 412 groundballs, scored seven goals, and dished out eight assists.