When Owen “Kit” Smith went to an open tryout held by the Major League Lacrosse champion Boston Cannons last month, all he wanted was to pick up some pointers for the team he coaches at Hebron Academy.
But Smith has done more than pick the brains of some of the top players and coaches in the country.
He has a good chance of making the team.
“We were impressed with him, certainly with his size as a lacrosse player and with his agility,” Cannons Coach Steve Duffy said. “We liked what we saw in the open tryout, and it prompted us to extend an invitation to our training camp.”
With one weekend of camp left before the Cannons make their final cuts, Smith is still with the team.
That’s much more than he anticipated.
“I looked at it as kind of like a teachers’ workshop except it was for lacrosse,” Smith said. “I’m getting a chance to play with some better players, guys who know the game well and coaches who know the game well, and learn a couple of things I could bring back to Hebron.”
Following his graduation from Bowdoin College last spring, Smith, who grew up in Brunswick, became coach of the boys’ hockey B team and the boys’ varsity lacrosse team at Hebron. He also teaches algebra at the small college preparatory school just west of Auburn.
Tom McCabe, the men’s lacrosse coach at Bowdoin, isn’t surprised that Smith, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound middie, has a chance to stick with the Cannons.
“Those of us who know him, know he has the skills and the ability to play at any level, so we’re not surprised,” he said.
At Bowdoin, Smith, the Travis Roy Award winner as Class A hockey’s top senior player in 2007, played hockey and lacrosse.
“Kit was always a joy to coach and watch develop,” McCabe said. “In practice in his freshman year, all he did was score goals. So we gave him a shot to play and within two games he was our top midfielder.”
Smith received All-American honorable mention in each of his last three lacrosse seasons at Bowdoin.
He also was named to the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference first team three times.
“He continued to develop and become a stronger player, and soon became the most dangerous midfielder in NESCAC,” McCabe said.
Hebron Academy supports Smith in his effort to become an MLL player.
“I think that coaches and teachers who are not only active coaching but are also actively doing it are all the better for it,” Hebron Athletic Director Leslie Guenther said. “He’s just a great role model for our kids. He does a great job of teaching some valuable skills but he also has such high expectations for sportsmanship.”
The MLL, which expanded from six to eight teams this season, is primarily a weekend league, so Smith intends to keep his job at Hebron.
By Monday, the Cannons must cut back to a 25-man playing roster and a six- to eight-player practice squad.
“He’s in the picture with his athleticism and size, possibly as one of our short-stick middies,” Duffy said.
At last month’s open tryout, the players were grouped into offensive and defensive units.
“The first thing we did is we split up into offense and defense, and I was an offensive guy in college so I went to the offense,” Smith said. “The coach just said, ‘Smith, you’re with the defense.’ “
The fact that Smith lives in Maine, a relatively short commute from the Cannons’ home field at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Mass., also may weigh in his favor.
“If you can prove you can handle the rigors of playing Major League Lacrosse and you live near a franchise, you’ve got a good chance of being part of the team,” Duffy said.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: