Casey Cittadino gets a second chance to play in the lacrosse world championships
comments
Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014

Casey Cittadino gets a second chance to play in the lacrosse world championships

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/22/14/14/ZAZnx.Em.138.jpeg|324
    - COURTESY OF GILDA ROTTMAN
    Team Israel midfielder Casey Cittadino – a Charlotte resident who is on the practice squad of the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse franchise – races upfield during Israel's match against Sweden during group play in the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/22/14/14/K3n0a.Em.138.jpeg|265
    - COURTESY OF GILDA ROTTMAN
    Team Israel midfielder Casey Cittadino – a Charlotte resident who is on the practice squad of the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse franchise – advances the ball upfield during a scrimmage game against Syracuse's men's lacrosse team.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/22/14/14/bdQ6E.Em.138.jpeg|420
    - CHARLOTTE HOUNDS
    Team Israel midfielder Casey Cittadino, a Charlotte resident who is on the practice squad of the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse franchise.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/22/14/14/1azrNp.Em.138.jpeg|217
    - COURTESY OF GILDA ROTTMAN
    Team Israel midfielder Casey Cittadino, a Charlotte resident who is on the practice squad of the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse franchise, high-fives a group of kids during pre-game introductions before Israel’s exhibition match against the Irish National Team.

Four years ago, pro lacrosse player Casey Cittadino was offered the chance to try out for the U.S. national team preparing for the 2010 world championships.

Cittadino turned it down, and still mentally kicks himself for that decision.

So when he was offered a second chance, Cittadino didn’t turn it down and is now part of something bigger than just a team.

Cittadino, who lives in south Charlotte with his wife, Jaime, is a member of Israel’s national team participating in this year’s world championships, held July 10-19 in Denver, Colo.

“For me, this has been almost two years in the making,” said Cittadino, 31, a member of the Charlotte Hounds’ practice squad. “For a lot of the guys, it’s been even longer than that.

“Looking back on it, I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t go (to the Team U.S.A. tryouts in 2010) and be a part of it, because everyone says it’s a great experience. So when Scott Neiss (executive director of the Israel Lacrosse Association) reached out to me to be a part of Team Israel, I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity.”

Cittadino, a Jewish-American who made his first visit to Israel in 2008, was first contacted about joining Team Israel last year. He then began the process of becoming an Israeli citizen.

It also showed Cittadino the commitment some of his future teammates had not just to growing the sport of lacrosse in Israel, but the well-being of their adopted country as well.

“Everyone on the team is a dual citizen,” Cittadino said. “A lot of the guys have moved – made Aliyah and live in Israel, and are building the program over there. We now have more than 250 kids now playing lacrosse in Israel. …

“But there’s an even bigger commitment – when you make Aliyah (emigrate) to Israel, you are obligated to join their military for three years. A lot of the guys on the team really have such an incredible commitment to this program and what we believe in here that they’re ready to serve in the military.”

One of the most-experienced members of Israel’s team, Cittadino – in his ninth season playing Major League Lacrosse – has played a role in the team’s surprising showing at the world championships.

Israel went undefeated in its four-team pool – beating teams from Slovakia, South Korea and Sweden – to advance into the bracket rounds.

Israel went on to win two more matches – against Ireland and Germany – to advance to the quarterfinals, losing to Australia, which finished third in the 2010 world championships. Israel won the seventh place game 15-10 over Japan.

That’s an impressive showing for Israel, one of nine nations competing in the world championships for the first time, one that has been in the works since 2010, when the Israel Lacrosse Association was founded soon after the world championships.

“There’s definitely some talent out there,” Cittadino said. “There’s starting to be a following, so this exposure has been tremendous for us (in Israel). Hopefully it can continue. We want to show our people that are playing at a high level, and doing so with class.

“For the future generations of this program, they should be very proud and lucky to be a part of something like this. Who knows where this thing is going to go in the future? In another four or eight years, we could be in the division competing with Team U.S.A. or Team Canada regularly.”

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more