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'Jersey Guy' Nadelen Enjoying Perfect Fit

Shawn Nadelen grew up outside Rochester in tiny Henrietta, New York. He starred in lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Never did he imagine that he would live, work, and play in the Garden State and serve as one of the main torch bearers for the sport of lacrosse in New Jersey. Nadelen has done just that and he couldn’t be happier.

In August 2001, Shawn Nadelen’s future was uncertain and he was getting edgy. His All-America college career was over and he had applied without success for assistant coaching positions at Butler and Cornell. He played half the season with a new professional outdoor franchise the Baltimore Bayhawks (Major League Lacrosse) and taught at various youth lacrosse camps, but didn’t have a full time job set after Labor Day. Luckily, famed Princeton University Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Bill Tierney stepped into the picture and approached Nadelen about a coaching position that had opened up with the Tigers. Nadelen quickly accepted and relocated to Plainsboro, New Jersey.

He then called on Jim Rogers, the General Manager of the New Jersey Storm, a new professional indoor team, telling him that he would love to continue playing, especially in his new home state. Initially, he didn’t hear back. Nadelen couldn’t attend the 2001 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft in August due to his playing schedule, so he was shocked and elated when he got the call that the Storm had selected him in the third round. The Storm are a National Lacrosse League expansion team playing at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford. The team is owned by former New Jersey Nets All-Star Jayson Williams.

Nadelen began the Storm’s inaugural season on the practice squad, but in December he was added to the active roster and has excelled for the team. He has scored two goals and dished out four assists to average a point per game over his first six games. Nadelen has also picked up 28 loose balls, among the team leaders. A change in coaches from Jim Hinkson to Jim Brady has aided Nadelen’s development. And he has become a favorite of his teammates. “I’ve enjoyed learning the game from the other guys who have experience in the league. They have really helped me out with the transition (from outdoor to indoor lacrosse),” Nadelen said. “[Indoor] is a similar style of play to mine - fast-paced and hard-hitting. We just needed to settle down as a team and decide what style of lacrosse we can play.”

Although the team is off to a 1-7 start at the season’s halfway point, the Storm are coming off a well-played 14-13 overtime loss to the high-octane Calgary Roughnecks on December 28. “The Calgary game was positive and I think we’re going to have a good second half of the season,” said Nadelen.

In his new roles, Nadelen has come in contact with many youth lacrosse players and programs and knows that lacrosse in New Jersey “is still growing. It hasn’t gotten as big as it is going to be. There are definitely some good high school programs, just not as many as some other places like Baltimore and Long Island. Lacrosse has gotten huge exposure this year in New Jersey due to the Storm (NLL) and the Pride (Major League Lacrosse).”

Coaches and players in the area have been energized by Princeton’s 2001 National Championship in lacrosse and are already calling the Princeton offices to be a part of the 2002 season. The Tigers begin practice on February 1 and begin the defense of their championship on March 2 at Johns Hopkins. “People are already asking to bring their groups and teams to different games and to use the side fields,” Nadelen explained, “Hearing that interest is great from these different high school teams.”

All in all, lacrosse seems to be entering its golden age in New Jersey. “It’s a fun sport to watch and an easy sport for people to get attached to,” Nadelen raved. With the strength of the collegiate programs at Princeton and Rutgers, the increase in boys and girls youth teams, and the addition of the two new pro teams, lacrosse seems ready to take off in the Garden State.