I grew up in the South and I’ll be honest and admit that I was surrounded by others that were hyperfocused on football, basketball, (and maybe softball along with track and field)! Back in my high school days we didn’t even have a soccer program, but things have definitely changed over time… and for the better! I relocated to the Emerald Coast 11 years ago and after spending time in this area, I’ve been exposed to other sports, such as Lacrosse. I find it’s similar to soccer, but the athletes that play it tend to utilize the same skills essential to football which led me to this latest story in MVP Health, Sports & Fitness Magazine about Brick Larabee. This Destin Middle School athlete was featured as one of our Walton County ‘MVP Young & Extreme.’ Hope you enjoy the story and I ask you to share it with others!
Football in the South is one of the most popular sports in our schools and communities, however, there’s a new game in town that’s gaining momentum. While widely played in other regions of the country, participation in Lacrosse is growing in our area and now the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has officially sanctioned the sports for boys and girls in ten high schools in Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.
Originally from London, now Destin local Chris Larabee, and his wife Stephanie have four children with two currently in area schools. They’re a sports family with daughter Isabella (14) and son Brick (12) participating in multiple sports in travel, school and recreational programs spanning the Destin, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach communities.
“At one point Brick was playing football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, and even wrestling and it seemed between that and Isabella’s soccer, we were always on a field or court. We told Brick to narrow down his focus and he decided to pursue lacrosse and football which worked well since they’re played in opposite seasons of the year,” said Chris. “Football and lacrosse complement each other with conditioning, speed, agility, and hand-eye coordination.”
The young athlete’s name, Brick Bradshaw Larabee, caught my attention, along with his signature long hair. Bradshaw comes from the four-time NFL Super Bowl Champion Quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry Bradshaw. As for Brick, his dad explains, “While on a trip to Pittsburgh to watch a Steelers game, Stephanie was pregnant and I had a dream we named the baby Brick (gender unknown at the time). Moments later we saw a commercial for the Pennsylvania Brick Council, promoting consumers to build with brick. They described the brick as strong, dependable, reliable, attractive, and the people’s choice. I told my wife those were great attributes for a boy/man. Later we found out we were having a boy and upon leaving the doctor’s office we pulled up behind a truck with Johnson’s Brick and Concrete Work written on it. That was the third strong sign for us and we named our son, Brick.”
Not only is his name unique, but his style and power of athleticism are even more so because this 4’ 8” tall, 88-pounder is nearly half the size of most of the athletes he plays against yet he’s known throughout various leagues for his big hits in both football and lacrosse. In football, he plays linebacker on defense and slot receiver on offense for Destin Middle School. In lacrosse, he plays ‘attack’ with the Emerald Coast Lightning 13U Travel Team last year and currently for the Niceville Eagles 14U Team. Brick has led his team in scoring and assists in lacrosse and he was defensive captain all six years he played football for the Destin Dolphins. Most seasons Brick led the team in tackles, safeties, and quarterback sacks.
Duke Pope, Executive Director of Emerald Coast Lightning Lacrosse (ECLL) and coach at FWB High School said, “Brick represents the next level of athletes that are showing up on our lacrosse rosters in the area. His type of respected young athletes is adding credibility and helping to pull local lacrosse out from the dark and into the mainstream.”
Duke established ECLL in 2011 as a non-profit program to grow the sport and since that time ECLL has helped to launch numerous area lacrosse programs and tournaments and he’s assisted in the development of the Gulf Coast Lacrosse conference and officials association.
Niceville High School/Niceville Youth Program Lacrosse Coach, Lou Albiero learned to know Brick in 2016 and said, “He stood out to me because he played at twice his size. He was new to the sport at the time yet played with a tenacity that was unmatched by his teammates; even the ones with experience. Because of his abilities, we pulled him up to the Niceville Eagles 14U team this year and he started almost every game. He doesn’t back down to kids more seasoned or larger in size.” Lou is the past Executive Director of the Niceville Eagles Lacrosse Club encompassing girls and boys elementary through high school. “We have a great group of parents, coaches, and concerned individuals with a wealth of knowledge and playing experience. The biggest surge has been in the number of girls participating. In Niceville alone we went from 17 in the fall of 2016 to 55 this past spring,” adds Lou.
Brent Macdonald is a lacrosse enthusiast and local business owner of the only authorized vendor for FLAX Pro gear. “I met Brick and his dad when they reached out to me for a new lacrosse stick. Brick is a competitive and aggressive player. His stick calls are superb for just a third-year player and he’s only going to get better. My overall hope for these players is that they get the credit and recognition they deserve and ultimately college scholarships,” shares Brent.
When asked what he likes the most about lacrosse Brick replied, “I like the team atmosphere and since I play attack, I like scoring and assisting others to score – that’s my job. With football, I enjoy playing the receiver position and my favorite part is hitting.” Brick’s college football team is Florida State University and the Pittsburgh Steelers are his professional team of choice. His favorite pro lacrosse team is the New York Lizards.