Our Grip ‘n Rip with Boston Cannons’ Mike Stone will appear on LacrossePlayground.com in the very near future. Look out for it.
“Hometown Hero” is not a title that Mike Stone would necessarily give himself, but it isn’t something I’d shy away from. The Boston Cannons Midfielder really is Boston through and through. When Mike picked up his first stick in Wellesley, MA as a kid, lacrosse was still a developing sport in the state. Back then, it was a challenge to put together enough kids to make a team. Today, it’s a question of how many youth teams will be in each town! Now playing for the Cannons, Mike can look back on his days growing up in Massachusetts and truly be ecstatic with the overall growth of lacrosse in the state.
Along with playing for the Cannons during the MLL season, Mike won a Championship with the Boston Rockhoppers of the now debunked North American Lacrosse League (he was also the league’s MVP), and started The Mike Stone Lacrosse Academy based in Natick, MA. Not to mention, he co-founded a non-profit called GivingSomeThing.com where the goal is to “connect donors and nonprofits at a higher level by letting donors know exactly how their donations are put to use”. Working with GivingSomeThing.com, the Boston Cannons, and CroArt Lacrosse, Stone was able to raise $72,000 for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Hometown Hero in my book.
It’s clear that Mike isn’t getting the recognition he deserves. Shockingly, his name isn’t mentioned once in the “Game 11 Preview: Cannons vs Bayhawks” available on the Cannons website despite being ranked 2nd on the team in points, 2nd on the team in goals, 1st in the entire MLL in shooting percentage for middies! This obviously doesn’t phase Mike at all. He one of the most humble guy’s you’ll ever meet and is always willing to do whatever it takes to lend a helping hand. I had the pleasure of chatting with Mike about his background, thoughts on lacrosse, and a few things in between. Enjoy!
1) What a season it’s been for the Cannons! Started a little slow out of the gate, but now riding a 4 game win streak it seems like the boys from Boston are really starting to gel. How can you explain the season so far and what sparked the turn around?
We always knew we had the talent and the leadership to have a successful season this year. Even with our slow 1-5 start it was a manner of all getting on the same page and working together. The coaching change earlier in the season was a wake up call to a lot of guys. Everyone liked coach Duffy and to see him go showed us that we needed to start playing well or there would be more changes. Coach Tucker has done a great job of coming in and channeling our leadership to make sure we all play well together.
2) This is your 4th year now with the Cannons. You’ve been named an MLL All-Star twice (’12, ’13) and you took home the MLL Championship back in 2011. What are some of the goals you have yet to accomplish in lacrosse? Do you have MVP aspirations?
I have this weird issue that I never am satisfied with the way I play. I hate making mistakes on the lacrosse field and always feel like I can be having more of an impact to help my team win games. Despite having a few strong seasons, I think I still have a lot to improve on. While I don’t have specific goals in terms of becoming an MVP or scoring leader, my goal is to bring my game to a level where I am satisfied. That means eliminating mistakes and making a strong weekly contribution to help the team win. Hopefully I’ll get there by the end of my career!
3) One of the most important (and overlooked) stats in all of lacrosse is shooting percentage. This season you have the highest shooting percentage of all middies in the MLL at 42.6%. Last year your shooting percentage was 34.9%. What adjustments have you made to your game to get such a dramatic improvement?
Ironically, this is the first year when I’ve played with a stick I didn’t string myself! The guys at StringKing Lacrosse strung me up a great stick and I’ve been using that this season. The StringKing mesh seems to perform perfectly every time I use it, which was never the case with mesh I’ve used before. I also have changed the way I shoot in the last couple years. I used to shoot mostly for corners and found that I was missing the net more than I liked. I changed my shooting mentality to shoot more along the pipes, low, and generally mix up my shooting spots. I have found that by shooting to score rather than shooting for corners I’ve been able to be a more effective shooter.
4) You have 20 goals so far this season which puts you in 4th place for scoring among all the middies in the MLL. How does it feel to see the name Stone in the company of names like Crowley, Rabil, Snider, and Poskay?
I’m not sure I’m quite in the same company as those guys yet. As I said, I feel like I have a lot to improve on to become a dominant player in this league. Every week I’m working towards improving and hopefully will get to that level at some point.
5) You grew up in Wellesley, MA, you live in Boston, and you’ve spent your entire MLL career playing for the Boston Cannons. How does it feel to be the hometown hero in the Boston lacrosse world? What’s it like seeing kids wearing Stone jerseys and chanting your name at games?
Hometown hero is a strong word but it is great to have witnessed the growth of the game in Massachusetts and play for the team that I looked up to as a kid. I remember when the league began I was going to the Cannons games in Lowell, and later going to games at Boston University. I looked up to many of the players on those early teams and was lucky to have been taught by local players like Mike Battista. Now it is rewarding to play at this level and be able to give back to the kids. Seeing Stone jerseys in the stands is a special sight! It definitely gives me some appreciation for how far I’ve come.
6) How does it feel to be named an MLL All-Star for the second straight year? Also, please discuss your legendary performance during the Freestyle Competition at this year’s All-Star game. How on earth did you come up with that magnificent routine?
It is an incredible honor to be named to the MLL All-Star game. I really grinded through my first couple years in the MLL and there were times when I thought I wouldn’t really get my shot to prove myself. When my chance finally came I knew I had to make the most of it. To have come from those modest beginnings to an MLL All-Star is something that I am proud of in my personal lacrosse career.
For the freestyle competition my goal was to go out there and have fun. I’m not much of a stick trick guy, and can’t touch the tricks of some of the top players in the game like Matt Gibson. I knew I had to get a little more creative, and I wanted to do it in a way that would be fun for the fans. I made up my mind that the more props I involved, the better my chances of winning would be. I got the idea for the golf shot from a counselor at the Primetime Lacrosse camp that I was coaching, and later that night I figured I might as well win Wimbledon and The Masters while I was at it. It’s a special feeling to be in the same company as guys like Andy Murray, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson. To do it all during halftime of a lacrosse game was a special feeling!
7) Can you please describe your stick and stringing preferences? What’s your head and pocket type? We know you use StringKing Performance Mesh, what sold you on that compared to everything else out there?
The stick that I use is the Brine Witness with a Warrior Diamond shaft. I’m hooked on StringKing mesh and use their H1 pocket. I’ve never used whip in my sticks so I keep a fairly shallow pocket and loose shooting strings. I started using StringKing when they offered to string me a stick so I could try it. It’s the first mesh I’ve used that I feel comfortable playing with in all conditions, and it has never bagged out on me.
8 ) Tells us about your life off the field. What made you want to start GivingSomeThing.com and the Mike Stone Lacrosse Academy?
When I’m not playing lacrosse I’m working on GivingSomeThing, a company I started a couple years ago with a good friend and teammate from Middlebury, Dave Campbell. GivingSomeThing is an online donation platform that enables donors to send real goods to nonprofits. Kind of like a wedding registry for nonprofits! The idea for GivingSomeThing came from Dave’s work with Lacrosse the Nations and we started it as a way to connect donors and nonprofits at a higher level by letting donors know exactly how their donations are put to use.
On the more nerdy side I’ve been teaching myself website design and computer programming for the past couple years. I got into it as part of my job with GivingSomeThing and find it fun, addicting, and the possibilities of what you can make are endless! I’m still a beginner but I’m hoping I can continue to improve and use my skills at GivingSomeThing.
As I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot of my game from local Cannons players like Mike Battista. Mike used to run a shooting clinic that I went to and he really taught me how to shoot. Now that I’m in a similar position I want to make sure I’m giving back to young players who are trying to improve their game. For that reason I started the Mike Stone Lacrosse Academy, which focuses on small group clinics so that I can spend lots of time critiquing each players’ individual technique. Also, I got to use my website coding skills to build the MSLA website!
So far both off-field activities have been a lot of fun and very rewarding!
Quick “getting to know Mike Stone” type of questions…
9) If you could travel to anywhere in the world for a week, where would that be?
My older sister lives in Belize so I would definitely go down there to see her. She runs a cacao processing and distribution company, exporting the beans to top chocolate makers in the country. It is really amazing work that she is doing and Belize is a beautiful place to be doing it!
10) What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I’m really not much of a concert go-er. Every Fall I go to the Toby Keith concert outside Boston, but generally I only go to 1-2 concerts a year. That said, I’m going to a Zac Brown Band in August while I’m really looking forward to. Sounds like I’m more of a country fan that I really am, but I like all types of music.
11) Do you have any guilty pleasures (food, drinks, music, tv/movies…)?
Wow, this one is going to be tough to admit. A little easier is that I have a sick obsession with the movie MacGruber. I grew up loving MacGyver and have every season on DVD. I’ve probably seen MacGruber over 30 times and love it every time. Way weirder is that I’m kind of a sucker for Keeping Up with the Kardashians. After a long day of work sometimes you just need to shut your brain off and watch some mindless tv!
12) Do you play any instruments? If not, what instrument do you wish you played?
I used to play the guitar by haven’t played in a while and never got very good. I often have a debate with my friends about the one instrument we’d like to be an expert at if we had the ability. I usually get stuck between the piano and the violin, but I think I’ll stick with the piano here. I think it’s super versatile and sounds good in any type of music. Plus, if you’re at an event with a piano and can sit down and rock it you’re guaranteed to be a hit!
13) What is in your refrigerator right now?
I just moved so my refrigerator doesn’t have much right now! However, first priorities are Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce (my friend Matt demands it if he ever comes over to eat), a whole slew of hot sauces, and, of course, Muscle Milk.
14) What’s your favorite sport or pastime besides lacrosse?
I love playing and watching hockey and football. My family Thanksgiving football game is one of the highlights of my year and one of the more competitive sporting events I play in! I’ll jump at any opportunity to play pond hockey and look forward to joining the Cannons men’s league hockey team this Winter.