The lacrosse world will turn it’s eyes to Denver this summer, when national teams from 38 countries descend on the Rockies for the FIL World Lacrosse Championships. Sharing the field with guys like Paul Rabil, Ned Crotty and Max Seibald will be a somewhat less familiar name, unless you follow the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference’s Division II.
Paul Morgan, a senior defenseman at Cal State Fullerton, recently was named to the Mexican National Team, which will play in the World Championships in July. Though a U.S. citizen, Morgan is eligible to play for Mexico because his mother was born there.
— Paul Morgan (@maulporgan74) February 1, 2014
Morgan said he actually had been invited to join the Mexican team four years ago for the World Championships in Manchester, England, but opted instead to make a trip to Japan with the USA Starz club.
“I regretted not taking the opportunity in 2010,” Morgan said, “I didn’t think about what an honor it would be to represent a country. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity; thankfully, I got a second chance.”
A first-team All-SLC and third-team All-America selection last season, Morgan initially didn’t plan to play at Fullerton this season. He had finished his degree with a year of eligibility remaining and was managing the 395 Starz club, which he founded in 2011, and in the fall he took over as head coach at Fallbrook High School, his alma mater. But when his friend and former teammate Mike Ansel became head coach at Fullerton, Morgan elected to return for his final season.
Add to that an internship in San Diego, and he is logging a lot of miles in a short amount of time. But he managed to squeeze in a trip to Mexico City in January for the tryouts.
“My mom is from the Mexico City area, and even she was nervous about me going,” Morgan said. “We were there for four days, and every day we’d wake up at 4 a.m., have breakfast and drive about an hour and half north to a private university, where the training camp was held. They had about 60 guys try out — I was one of six U.S. born players invited. I was impressed with the amount of talent down there. They have some players that are legit.”
The 2010 tournament was the first time Mexico sent a team to the World Championships, and the results were predictable. Mexico finished last out of 29 teams, losing its three pool games by a combined score of 53-6 (to Sweden, Czech Republic and Italy), then losing 10-9 to South Korea and 10-6 to France in the consolation bracket.
“In 2010, they had only had lacrosse in Mexico for about a year and a half,” Morgan said. “There are no youth programs, so everyone starts playing when they get to college. There are about eight universities with college teams, and each of those teams sent players to the tryouts.”
Cal Poly alum Osvaldo Diaz, who played for Mexico in 2010, lives in Visalia, Calif., but works to support and promote lacrosse in Mexico. Morgan said he helped Diaz organize a series of scrimmages last fall between a team from Mexico and Southern California clubs at Fullerton, UC Irvine and Marymount College, and Morgan actually played on the Mexican side. That, and his ability to speak the language, helped him in January’s tryout.
“I do speak Spanish pretty fluently,” he said, “and I was the only American (at the tryouts) who did speak Spanish, so that really helped me in being able to communicate on defense. I think we really started to develop a chemistry.”
So Morgan has his college season to play — the Titans are 2-0 and play USC on Wednesday in Simi Valley. And he has his high school team to coach — the Fallbrook Warriors open their season March 5 against Temecula Valley. And he has his club to organize — 395 Starz will hold tryouts for its six teams May 24-25 (the weekend after the MCLA national tournament in Orange County, should Fullerton advance beyond the SLC playoffs).
Then it’s on to Denver … and then?
“This might be it for me,” he said of his playing days. “I don’t know if I’ll do the post collegiate thing. I really love coaching.”