Brandon Bailey got his start in sports at the Bowie Boys’ and Girls’ Club, participating as a youngster in track and football.
By the time Bailey reached seventh grade, friends convinced him to give lacrosse a chance through the same organization. The 6-foot, 170-pound long-stick midfielder believes his athletic background made for a smooth transition.
“Basically, [lacrosse is] a combination of football and track,” Bailey said. “It’s a lot of running, but you also have the contact. Playing those sports together was easy for me. It was the stick skills I had to work on. Once I got that down, it was good.”
Friday’s print edition included a story about the rise of several new club lacrosse teams at Prince George’s County public schools. At Wise, junior Jasmine Windley helped launch the girls’ club team from scratch, just months after watching a college game on television sparked her interest.
If Windley’s experience provides a blueprint for students looking to start a team in the county, then Bailey’s story can serve as an inspiration for the fledgling players there with hopes for continuing their careers past high school.
Bailey, now a senior at Bowie, has signed to play at Stony Brook next year, demonstrating the path to Division I lacrosse in Prince George’s County does not have to include a stop at an area private school.
Bailey missed his senior lacrosse season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a preseason football scrimmage in August, but he still served as a captain for Eleanor Roosevelt this spring. The team finished 7-12, playing in the Maryland Independent Lacrosse League.
Playing alongside teammates of varying skill and experience levels, Bailey filled an important role on defense for the Raiders during his sophomore and junior seasons. He also had interest from Hofstra and Division II Ursinus before picking the Seawolves.
Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Don Fink has been involved with the Raiders for seven seasons and does not believe the team, which began in 1995, has ever produced a Division I recruit.
“My junior year, I didn’t really see myself going this far,” Bailey said. “I guess maybe I could motivate kids who are in the program now that, ‘You can go to a D-I school and play.’ Maybe some other kids will even want to try lacrosse.”
Because Bowie does not currently field a boys’ team, players who learned the game through the local youth program are encouraged to play at Eleanor Roosevelt. The makeup of the 25-man roster this season was split roughly 50-50 between the schools. (Oxon Hill and Gwynn Park are the other two schools in the county that had boys’ club teams that scheduled games this year.)
Bailey said his parents considered moving to Howard County when he began high school to give him the opportunity to play the sport on a school-sponsored team, but ultimately, Bowie provided the best fit.
Last year, Bailey played on the Bulldogs football team and also ran track in the winter and spring. He focused on lacrosse in the spring but also competed in long jump and ran the 400 meters when he could.
Bailey planned to follow a similar arrangement as a senior until he was injured playing safety in a scrimmage against Hammond. He had surgery in October and hopes to soon be cleared to run without limitation.
Ultimately, Bailey’s recruitment was not all that different from other area players with Division I lacrosse hopes. He gained notice for his play with the T2 Lacrosse club team based in Anne Arundel County and made his college decision last summer at the end of the club season, just weeks before his football injury.
“He’s just a quality kid,” said Fink, whose three sons all played at Roosevelt and continued their careers at the Division II or III level. “He plays team-first, team-focused, and it’s all about making everyone around him better.”
Bowie players are responsible for their own transportation to Roosevelt for lacrosse games and practices, but the arrangement works fairly smoothly, in part because Bowie’s school day ends almost an hour earlier. The players often carpool for the drive to Greenbelt that takes about 20 minutes, Bailey said.
Bowie had a boys’ club team in the late 1990s but could not keep it going much longer once the initial group of founding players graduated. Though the current player math would almost allow the school to support its own team, Bailey doesn’t see it as a viable option yet.
“It’s basically incomplete without the Roosevelt half,” Bailey said of the team. “We all get along great. It’s like we go to school together because we know so much about each other.”