Roland Hockenbery all-area

All-area athlete Roland Hockenbery, Middletown lacrosse.

You're one of the best faceoff men in the county. What does it take to excel at the faceoff X?

You need mental toughness above all. You're going to win some, you're going to lose some, but you've got to just be able to recoup and go back at it. Hours and hours of training, just perfecting the craft, perfecting the motion, just doing everything right. Wing schemes, having a general understanding of the game. People think it's really complicated. It's really not. You just pull the ball into space, pull it where nobody else is, and you'll win faceoffs.

When you're out there at the faceoff X, there are times when you do have to come off the field, but there are times where you stay on, and you get the offense involved. Would you rather do the latter?

Yeah. Sometimes, you get teams where their faceoff guy isn't the best player — he's just a pure faceoff guy. So you want to get him down [the field], maybe set a screen with the attackman, just keep him on the field, get him mixed up in the defense and then come off. [Winning faceoffs] gets tiring. It's putting everything into it. You're basically going as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds — as hard as you can to get the ball. That's your job. Sometimes you do get tired, but there are times where it's always fun to go down and score or go down and score and get an assist.

As you grew up, was there anybody who evaluated your skills and thought you could do well at the faceoff X?

A lot of my coaches did. From youth [lacrosse] up, I was always facing off. [Former Oakdale coach and current University of Delaware coach] Trey Wilkes, he was my club coach for a long time. [Middletown assistant coach John] Galloway, he was a big help, perfecting the scheme. My faceoff coach that I go to now, Coach [Jeremy] Rualo at Calvert Hall, he runs Inner Circle Lacrosse. Me and [Linganore's] Will Coletti go to him, and he has really perfected my techniques in everything I have been doing. I owe it all to those guys. Without those guys, I wouldn't be where I am.

You've also played high school football, but you are going to play Division I lacrosse at Delaware. When did lacrosse become your main sport?

Probably freshman year of high school. I always wanted to play football in college but was undersized. So, I started on focusing on lacrosse, focusing on realistic goals and did everything I could to pursue that.

You were a linebacker and a running back for the football team. Are there any skills you can transfer over from one sport to the other?

Toughness. Above everything, toughness. Faceoff guys, even at the D-I level, you see they're gritty, tough. They get injured all the time. It's just an injury-prone position in the game. I'd get cracked at linebacker, get cracked at running back all over the place, and this has really helped me [with] pain management, working through pain. If I'm actually injured, I can't go, but if it's just pain, it's just working through it.

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