|(Photo Credit: Espana Lacrosse)
Lucas Burke was one of three players, along with the Fardin Twins who played for France, at the World Championships that have roots in both Kentucky and another country. Lucas was born in his mother’s native country, Spain, and spent his early years living between Spain and Lexington,KY as he spent about half a year in each place. Lucas was introduced to the game of lacrosse in sixth grade in his hometown of Lexington,KY.
Lacrosse is now another way that Lucas can connect his Spanish and American roots even more. He played for Spain at the FIL World Championships this past July where he was one of the youngest players in the whole tournament and the youngest on his team. Spain would have a decent showing in Israel as they finished in 31st place with a 4-3 record.
Even though he was the youngest player on the Spanish National team he was one of the only players with any lacrosse experience in the United States. Lucas played in high school at Lafayette High School and is going to be a freshman at Transylvania University where he will continue his lacrosse career.
I caught up with Lucas and was able to ask him some questions about his experience playing for Spain in The World Championships as well as the what lacrosse is like in Spain, among other things.
Q&A Lucas Burke, Spain/Transylvania University
Tanner: First off, for those who may not know, could you explain how you are eligible to play for Spain in the World Championships?
Lucas: I was born in Spain(my mother being a native Spaniard and my father being born and raised in Lexington) up until I was 10. I used to spend the summers and go to school for 6 months every year in Spain, I typically spent October, November, and December in the US though, where I attended Ashland Elementary. This allowed me to gain dual citizenship, although I have a Spanish passport every World Championship team is allowed a number of non-passport holders whose parents or grandparents were/are natives, this leads to teams shipping in loads of Americans who developed their game in the states. Spain refuses to construct its team of foreigners and chooses instead to select players who were developed in the Spanish lacrosse league or who have actual Spanish descent which helps grow the sport. This is what makes Spanish players so proud of going toe-to-toe with certain teams filled with import players in the World Championships. It really says a lot about the determination and hustle the players put in to match the products of top notch programs in the United States. I was one of the few players who had played in the US at all. I now just spend my summers in Spain where I have friends and family.
Tanner: What was the tryout process like to make the Spanish National Team?
Lucas: The Spanish lacrosse team holds tryouts all over, they held around 3 or 4 last year of which I was only able to attend 1 in Lisbon due to my graduation and financial constraints making it hard to travel to Europe before the summer. Although I only attended the tryout in Lisbon most players try to make all of the tryouts which is hard since they are held everywhere from Barcelona to Madrid to Manchester. The tryout in Lisbon was a unique experience on its own, I arrived to find the most tight-knit team I had ever seen, they gave me a dumbass nickname and welcomed me to the family almost immediately. The next day the scrimmage tryout began, I came to realize I was way undersized and that the players hustled like crazy, making the team wasn’t going to be easy. After making several cuts to the team throughout the last school year they finally announced I had made the team in the Spring. My family was ecstatic since my sister played for the Women’s national team as the youngest member as well.
Tanner: If you could, how would you rate the level pf play in Spain?
Lucas: The level of play in Spain is hard to gauge, although there are only 9 men’s lacrosse teams and 4 women’s lacrosse teams there are always people getting together to have unofficial little scrimmages, meaning the level of play is ever increasing. Many of the guys in Spain don’t get to play lacrosse near as much as they would like to but this only pushes them to live and breathe lacrosse even more by watching lacrosse, playing wall ball like crazy, and working on any part of their game they can. I do believe the level of play to be quite lower than that of English team’s but no homegrown player playing his first international match showed any signs of immaturity when they took the field against teams the likes of New Zealand and China this summer.
Tanner: How did you get started playing Lacrosse?
Lucas: I began Playing Lacrosse in 6th grade, I had just began living in the US full time and really needed an activity loose some weight and make new American friends.
Tanner: How was your overall experience in Israel on and off the field?
Lucas: On the field, I was the youngest Spanish player, which was really a challenge when I became matched up against guys double my size and age.The team is very technically sound and well coached though so they backed me up whenever I needed it on the field. I started a few games and loved every on field experience like crazy since the team has such an energy about them.
Off the field was just as great, although our housing was minimal and there wasn’t much to do in our little off-time where we were staying the guys really made the best of it. You could lock 3 Spaniards in an empty room and they would still have fun. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before though, living with guys in their 20s and 30s and being considered a peer. They all took care of me and constantly checked up on me when i got sick at the beginning of the tournament.
Tanner: What was your favorite memory at the World Championships?
Lucas: I can’t say I have an absolute favorite memory but after we won games we always did this little celebration thing that is hard to describe but everyone gets ecstatic. Lacrosse All Stars actually posted a video of it on their Instagram, it’s really worth a watch if you’re willing to do some scrolling.
Tanner: What do you think is next for Lacrosse in Spain or the overall international game?
Lucas: With all the hard work Spanish lacrosse players put in to grow the game it can only get bigger in Spain. As far as the international scene, the next world cup is going to consist of 30 teams, as opposed to 46, meaning Spain will most likely have to finish in the top 15 in the European Championships, a challenge everyone on the team is ready to take on.
Tanner: We both have experience playing lacrosse in Kentucky, so what do you think needs to be done to improve the game in Kentucky?
Lucas: I think lacrosse in Kentucky would benefit from having improved coaching at the middle school level, I had friends on teams coached by college kids with little lacrosse experience who didn’t seem to care about the development of the programs or the sport in Kentucky and made kids lose interest in the sport. I know it’s a tall order but it would really change Ky lacrosse radically.
Tanner: What is next for you in terms of Lacrosse?
Lucas: Next year I will play my first year of college lacrosse at Transylvania University in my home town of Lexington, KY. I’m looking forward to lacrosse season and the years to come.