The men’s lacrosse team may be new to the University of Tampa, but their remarkable debut in 2012 leaves short stick defensive mid-fielder, Mike Tyrrell, rightfully hopeful for a phenomenal second season.
Born and raised in Canada, Tyrrell had a huge impact on the relevance of lacrosse back in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta-noting that only “10-15 guys” before him ever pursued post-high school lax careers there. Calgary is a city in Southwestern Canada that lies among the beautiful Rocky Mountains, just north of Montana.
He may be a foreigner to Florida, but Mike Tyrrell is no stranger to the game of lacrosse. Tyrrell has a long history with the sport, playing since around age eight and at levels ranging from elementary to semi-pro. Although he is a roughly 15 year lacrosse veteran, Mike admits his first love was hockey. He even aspired to play in a junior hockey league in Canada. But when the world of indoor box lacrosse opened up to him, so did opportunity.
Box lacrosse, with Canadian origins, is a form of lacrosse played indoors, with smaller goals, smaller teams-consisting of five players compared to field lacrosse’s ten-and which Tyrrell describes as “more high speed, with more contact, and more confined space.” It is the more prominent version of lacrosse in Canada, while the opposite is true in the U.S.
Tyrrell made the transition from hockey to box lacrosse when he was young. Playing all throughout school, his talent soon became apparent. Originally playing goalie, and afterward pursuing the game’s more active positions, Tyrrell would develop and refine his skills with the guidance of expert coaches, many of whom played professionally themselves, holding prestigious records. He played in the National Sport Academy, a Canadian school program that specializes in helping student athletes balance academic and athletic careers. He would later go back to serve as a coach at the same institution.
Atop his list of athletic accomplishments, Tyrrell played for and won championships in a junior lacrosse box league as well as a senior lacrosse field league, which at the highest level of unprofessional lacrosse in Canada, is for 16-21 year-olds.
With such an impressive resume, it’s no wonder Tyrrell was a prospect for UT Lacrosse. His journey here was not a direct one, however. Mike Tyrrell initially attended college at the New York Institute of Technology where he studied Business Administration. His stay was short lived. “I wasn’t being academically challenged,” Tyrrell explains. “I was walking in and out of tests in 15 minutes.”
With a strong focus on academic priority and achievement, something UT’s athletic department prides itself on, Tyrrell’s sights shifted toward other opportunities to study and pursue his love of lacrosse. He returned home after a first year of college and worked in a medical clinic. He explains that upon “scrolling through lacrosse sites” he discovered the University of Tampa, whose emphasis on athletic-academic excellence was a chief factor in his decision.
The transition from Canadian box lacrosse to UT’s brand new field lacrosse program didn’t occur without struggle. The Canadian native who spent the majority of his young life playing under the conditions of a tight, five on five, indoor lacrosse setup had to adjust to very different characteristics of a larger game stage. Not only did Tyrrell have to adjust to much broader field dimensions, he also had to make the switch from using a 6 foot pole in the box league to a new much shorter stick at a new position of defensive mid-field.
Despite the obstacles, Tyrell says he now feels very comfortable at his new position in the realm of field lacrosse. Head coach Rory Whipple and especially defensive coordinator Mike Ryder were essential in helping him assimilate and develop necessary skills. The collaboration among his teammates was also successful. Tyrell notes that the team has great chemistry and the players all have different skill sets to contribute.
These elements all came together as the men’s lacrosse team produced an impressive 11-5 regular season record last year, competing against nationally ranked teams and seizing the regular season conference championship before getting knocked out. Tyrrell himself admires that the achievement is “pretty unheard of” for a first year organization.
Alongside athletic achievement, Junior Mike Tyrrell also deems his academic endeavors to be top priority, although those ambitions aren’t exactly at distant ends. He expects to be involved with lacrosse for a long time as he pursues a Sports Management degree in the hopes of ultimately becoming a collegiate lacrosse coach. Look out for his name in the near future though, because he also aspires to go pro.
Until then, Tyrell admits that exceling both academically and athletically is a strenuous balancing act. With two and half hour practices competing with school work for daylight hours, he admits to having to sacrifice long nights to get it all done. Through it all, this studious athlete still finds time to relax and enjoy a fairly unsuspecting hobby: making hip-hop music.
As if being a Canadian lacrosse elite wasn’t cool enough, Mike Tyrell is also friends with a prominent Canadian hip-hop artist known as “Transit” who works with kids at a local Boys and Girls Club in Calgary instructing studio-recording programs. Tyrrell has taken after Transit’s influential role in promoting values counterintuitive to mainstream rap. He too, makes his own songs, which you can find online.
For Tyrrell making music is about freedom and escape. “I have a lot of fun making songs. There are so many aspects of life telling you what rules to follow; in music you have freedom and your message can’t be changed.” Tyrrell’s message is one of uplifting hope and morality, intending to change the perception of hip-hop music.
Hopeful in his music and hopeful on the field, Mike Tyrrell has proven to be a well-rounded and valuable asset to a thriving new UT lacrosse team. Although he has already accomplished so much, more awaits him as he embarks on a new season with his teammates.
For any aspiring athletes, Tyrrell advises, “Take every opportunity you get because you never know who will be watching.” For him, jumping at the opportunity of lacrosse paved his eventual pathway to Tampa. He also offers, “Surround yourself with supportive people who will help you achieve your goals,” citing influential coaches who believed in him. These words certainly appear to hold truth as Mike Tyrrell exemplifies hard-earned success here at UT.
Written by Anya Proctor