ANNAPOLIS —- Navy attackman Sam Jones has made an immediate impact, scoring 19 goals and adding 10 assists for the Midshipmen in his first season.
But it’s anything but the first taste of Navy lacrosse for Jones. Far from it.
The Annapolis native and Severna Park High School graduate was immersed in the Mids’ program at a young age. Both his grandfather and his father played for Navy as well.
“My granddad and dad tailgate pretty much every game,” Jones said. “I consistently came to all the home games I could make it to. If I didn’t have my own game to play, I was here. Ever since probably the 2002, 2003 seasons, I’ve just fallen in love with it. I loved everything about it. I remember the Ian Dingmans, the Graham Gills, Jon Birsners, all those guys. I loved watching them play. It’s really cool I’m wearing the same jersey now.”
Those, of course, were several of the stars of Navy’s impressive teams from the mid-Aughts. But just how far back does Jones go?
It wasn’t hard to figure out.
“The first Navy game I ever came to watch, I think they went 7-6, it was probably the late ‘90s and it was on Dewey Field,” Jones said. “I remember having my back against the Severn River.”
Fortunately, a Navy lacrosse media guide was easily accessible. And Navy didn’t exactly play many 7-6 games in the 1990s —- just two, in fact.
“Against Duke, 1998?” I asked.
“It would have been a game they lost,” Jones replied.
Indeed, the Mids lost that day, but they did help foster an appreciation for a program that continues to this day.
Interestingly, Richie Meade has coached Navy for that entire stretch. So it didn’t seem out of the question Jones could recall how past stars might handle situations he would encounter.
Not that he would share such thoughts —- or even try to let it pass through his mind.
“I’m afraid coach Meade could read that thought,” Jones said with a laugh. “I knew what I was going to get because I watched coach Meade on the sideline for so many years. I remember Ian Dingman came off the field one time in the early 2000s, that era, and he’d just got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Coach Meade just chewed him out on the sideline and Ian Dingman puts his head down a little bit. Coach Meade pops it directly back up and that’s when I kind of realized ‘Hey, he’s a serious guy.’”
—- Patrick Stevens