212 Lacrosse growing in Park City
Coach says its all for the kids
Gina Barker, The Park Record
Posted: 02/28/2012 04:20:46 PM MST
Long Island native Mike Acee has his heart in lacrosse. He moved to Park City in 2005. During the summer of 2009, he decided to pick up his passion and started a lacrosse clinic, 212 Lacrosse, for children offering one-on-one coaching, clinics, and camps to boys and girls in the area.
What started with two Park City middle school students, Taylor Watkins and Cameron Perry, quickly grew to over 400 players. Now, Acee is on the hunt for coaches to help meet the growing demand.
“The most important part of our programs is how lacrosse is a platform to mentor kids and give them a positive force in their life,” he said.
But Acee’s relationship with the sport goes much farther back than his move to Utah.
Lacrosse began for Acee when he was a small child. His father Fred Acee coached the sport for more than 40 years and gave his son his first lacrosse stick at age 3. As a starter on Attack for The University of North Carolina, he went on to help win a NCAA National Championship, four Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, was a High School All-American and a gold medalist and the top scorer for team Long Island in the highly competitive Empire State Games.
“Lacrosse is a deep part of my life experience,” Acee said.
He went on to play at the University of North Carolina on a scholarship, but it was there that the relationship first felt tension.
“Playing at Carolina was an honor and a great experience coupled with some pressure,” Acee said. “When I got out of college I didn’t want much to do with lacrosse. I basically disconnected from the sport.”
After leaving the East Coast for a finance career in California, Acee said he thought he was done with lacrosse for good. But working in finance wasn’t making him happy. Acee started to travel, from Costa Rica to France and finally landing in Park City.
It was in the mountains he decided that coaching was his real passion.
“The spirit of lacrosse started gnawing at my heels again,” “It’s funny how that works. You never forget your first love.”
Carson Dutkanych, a sophomore living in the area, is one student that keeps him headed in the right direction, Acee said. Acee has worked with Dutkanych since the high schooler was in fifth grade. Since then, Acee recently took Dutkanych to his alma mater in North Carolina, showcasing his talents to national recruiters.
“Watching the kids in our programs grow, is the main reason I do this,” he said. Now Carson is being nationally recruited.”
Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country, with roughly 400 children of all ages playing in Park City alone, Acee said. 212 Lacrosse continues to grow at a fast pace.
Acee plans to soon add a competitive team for the under-13 and under-11 age brackets, and a year-round development course. Even as his business expands, Acee said he will always keep things in perspective limiting the pressure put on kids to succeed.
“I work to instill high hopes without the high pressure,” Acee said. “I think that’s where the really positive results come from, getting rid of all this unnecessary pressure.”
“I want kids to love this sport, to take something away from it that will not only make them a better person, but also a happier person,” he added.