Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country, even making itself known in dozens of countries across the globe including Jamaica, Korea, and Australia. It is also recognized as one of the most underpaying professional sports in the world.
As of 2018, the average salary for a professional lacrosse player was between ten and twenty-five thousand dollars yearly, according to careertrend.com. Professional lacrosse athletes often have full-time jobs on top of being a member of a Major League or Premier League Lacrosse organization.
Marist senior and faceoff specialist Peyton Smith approaches his final season with an open mind about what’s to come. He knew at an early age that he could extend his lacrosse career further than most with his skill, being recognized as a top faceoff specialist in the South in his Junior year of high school.
“I started getting recognition in the state of North Carolina and throughout the South pretty early in my lacrosse career,” said Smith.” I took advantage of the fact that there wasn’t as much competing talent in my state so I could excel. But as I continued to get attention and eventually committed to a Division I program, I figured I could potentially make an ideal life out of my passion. Obviously going through college and creeping closer to the real world I realized it was a lot less realistic as I had thought in the past.”
It wasn’t until Peyton continued his education that he understood he would have to make a decision to give up his favorite sport one day to start a stable life for himself. That didn’t stop him from performing as a top tier athlete until that time came.
He came into Marist as the 11th ranked faceoff specialist in the country and earned the honor of being in the top ten best faceoff men in Division I lacrosse just last season. Smith was named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year for this season.
“It was pretty cool to get that notification that I was one of the top prospects for the MLL draft,” said the Raleigh native. “There’s not many guys from North Carolina that make it that far. It would be a great experience, definitely something I want to do. But there’s a lot of work to be done now and my class is loaded with faceoff guys so I have to standout; score more goals, put more points on the board. There’s a lot of room for me to improve so to be able to get there would be awesome but right now I’m focusing on myself trying to get better every day in practice.”
Smith has options on the table in terms of the next chapter of his life. He interned last summer with a software company back in his hometown in which he received an offer to work for them following graduation. Smith plans on graduating this upcoming May with a Bachelor’s in Communications with a concentration in advertising and a minor in information systems. With a bright future ahead in software sales and business development, one may question the conversation of playing lacrosse at all after college.
“It’s going to be a tough decision when that time comes but right now, I’m just focusing on the season,” Smith said. “It’s something I want to pursue but you can’t play this game as a full-time job. You need to have something else to support you and your family financially. I was lucky enough to be asked back to work right after college and that’s what I plan to pursue. I was a big part of the migration process of this company this past summer so working when I did was a great experience.”
Smith is keen on keeping a realistic approach going into the decision when the time comes but as of right now, he finds himself having contemplating for the first time whether he’ll be suiting up in his lacrosse gear again after this season. Smith has kept an optimistic point of view on both career paths, but he hasn’t lost sight of what will be best for himself and his family in the long run.
“I have to be able to have this backup plan,” said Smith. “I can’t just play lacrosse for a living. I have to be able to support myself amongst other things. Playing at the next level could be great. The MLL specifically, you have to fly out on Friday, practice Friday night, play Saturday, fly back on Sunday. So it is doable, but it would be hard. For now, it’s all about this season ahead of us as a team. Hopefully in April when the draft comes around, my name will get called.”
Edited by David Connelly