SoCal Success: Aaron Bucka, UC Santa Barbara

Aaron Bucka, UC Santa Barbara

More and more lacrosse players from the Southland are heading off to play in college. This summer, Southland Lax is catching up with a few guys and asking them to share their experiences — what they’ve done, how they got there and how others can follow a similar path.

Name: Aaron Bucka
College: UC Santa Barbara
Hometown/High School: Irvine, Calif./Northwood High School
Position: Midfield
Year in school: Junior
Years played: 9 years

Aaron Bucka, UC Santa Barbara

Any awards won, either high school or college?
2007 Northwood Varsity Rookie of the Year; 2008 Northwood Varsity Offensive MVP; 2009 and 2010 Northwood Varsity Team MVP; 2009 2nd Team All-Sea View League; 2010 1st Team All-Sea View League; 2010 2nd Team All-County

How did you get into lacrosse?
Not entirely sure, but I think I saw some neighborhood kids tossing around one day, and I knew I wanted to try whatever it was they were doing. That turned into reading and learning about the sport, then trying it out for real. My first time playing was at one of the Sunday youth leagues South Swell does.  It was awesome then and still is now.

What’s your favorite lacrosse memory?
In high school, it was being invited to, and playing in, the Top 205 camp the summer after my junior year. Some of the kids there were unreal, and it was a lot of fun to play with and be challenged by them.  In college, that has to be our comeback victory over Cal, at Cal, in our first game of the year. We came back by I think about 5 goals in the last six minutes of the game to win 11-10. Under the lights, I’d never played a collegiate game before, on the road with a lot of tension: What a way to be welcomed to the next level!

How did your season go this year?
Pretty well. We finished the season at 13-4, which I think is thanks in large part to the return of head coach Mike Allan. UCSB made it out to the MCLA national championships in Greenville, S.C., but we only made it to the second round, losing a really hard-fought game to Colorado State, the eventual champion. I had a great time traveling and playing with all the guys on the team.

What advice can you give to younger players looking to bring their games to the next level?
Lacrosse is one of the few sports I can think of where you can spend half an hour practicing by yourself and actually notice an improvement in your game. Everybody says it, but it’s true: Get on a wall as often as you can, and you’ll be surprised at how fast your stick skills become smooth and natural.

Also, when you’re out on the field, play as fast and as hard as you can, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll learn from the experiences a lot more effectively than if you jog around timidly, as if you’re afraid to make a mistake. You’ll learn faster, coaches love to see it, and effort wins games, more often than not. Watch college games; notice how fast everybody is going whenever they’re on the field. Push yourself!