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 didnt 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 Israels national team participating in this years 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, its been even longer than that.Looking back on it, I was pretty disappointed that I didnt go (to the Team U.S.A. tryouts in 2010) and be a part of it, because everyone says its 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 didnt 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 theres 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 theyre ready to serve in the military.One of the most-experienced members of Israels team, Cittadino in his ninth season playing Major League Lacrosse has played a role in the teams 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.Thats 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.Theres definitely some talent out there, Cittadino said. Theres 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.
Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014
Casey Cittadino gets a second chance to play in the lacrosse world championships