July 9, 2014
A trio of former and incoming Michigan men's lacrosse players will take part in the 2014 FIL World Championships July 10-19 in Denver. The third player being highlighted in a three-part series is incoming freshman Eric Smith, a close defender from the Taft School in Connecticut. Smith, alongside his brother, Dickson, a rising junior at Virginia, will represent Team Sweden.
Sweden will participate in the Orange division, alongside Israel, Korea and Slovakia. Play opens for the Swedes Friday (July 11) at 11:30 a.m. against Israel.
Q: What is your affiliation to Sweden?
A: I am a dual citizen in both the U.S. and Sweden, as my mother grew up in Sweden and lived there through college. I visit Sweden every summer and stay with my grandparents who live in southern Sweden. I still have lots of relatives living there, so it's nice to visit all of them and submerge myself into the culture for a few weeks every summer.
Q: Tell us about your brother, who has past international experience.
A: My brother, Dickson Smith, will be a junior longstick midfielder at the University of Virginia this coming fall and played in the European Championships two summers ago in Amsterdam. He absolutely loved the experience, both playing and getting to know the Swedes. He also felt honored to have the opportunity to represent the national team and felt very proud to do so.
Q: How was it been preparing for the tournament away from your teammmates?
A: Kim Langeborg, our coach, has kept Dickson and myself in the loop since last fall via Skype and e-mail. He has been keeping track of our fitness with his own personal Team Sweden fitness tests that we have to complete and submit monthly in order to be prepared for the World Cup in Denver. Leading up to the Championships, we will be in Denver the week before, spending time with Team Sweden to prepare, familiarize and create team chemistry.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you anticipate that you will need to overcome as one of the younger players on the roster?
A: The whole experience will be challenging. The game itself will be faster, more physical, and I personally will have to take my game to the next level. This is no longer high school lacrosse, I will be playing alongside men in their twenties and thirties who are experienced players.
Q: What are your expectations for the tournament? What are you trying to get out of it?
A: I'm expecting to play my best, compete in every game, and regardless of how the team ranks at the end of the tournament, I'm expecting to undergo a unique experience in representing Sweden. By the end of the tournament, I will have improved myself on the lacrosse field, learned more about the culture of Sweden and experienced the pride of representing the country of Sweden.
Q: How will this experience prepare you for the upcoming season?
A: I will no longer be playing at the high school level, and instead I will be playing with experienced athletes. I will also be submerged on a team with new coaches, players and captains. This will help me ease into the transition process that I will experience both with Team Sweden and Team Four at Michigan.