212 Lacrosse growing in Park City
Long Island native Mike Acee has his heart in lacrosse. When he moved to Park City a few years ago, he decided to pick up his passion and started a lacrosse clinic, 212 Lacrosse, for children offering one-on-one coaching, clinics, camps to boys and girls in the area.
What started with two Park City middle school students, Taylor Watkins and Cameron Perry, quickly grew. Now, Acee is on the hunt for coaches to help meet the growing demand.
"The most important part of this business is how lacrosse is a platform to mentor kids and give them a positive force in their life," he said.
But Acee’s relationship with the sport goes much farther back than his move to Utah.
Lacrosse began for Acee when he was a small child. His father Frank Acee coached the sport for more than 40 years and immersed his son in it since childhood. As he grew up with the sport, he went on to help win a NCAA National Championship, four Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, was a High School All-American and a gold medalist for the "Top Scorer" in the Empire State Games.
"When I took up lacrosse," Acee said, "it became a deep part of who I am."
He went on to play at for the University of North Carolina on a scholarship, but it was there that the relationship first felt tension.
"I remember I felt a lot of pressure," Acee said. "When I got out of college I didn’t want much to do with lacrosse. I basically disconnected with the sport."
After leaving the East Coast for a finance career in California, Acee said he thought he was done with lacrosse for good. But California was just another type of pressure that he realized wasn’t making him happy. Acee started to travel, bouncing from Costa Rica to France and finally landing in Park City.
It was in the mountains he decided that coaching was his real passion.
"The spirit of lacrosse started gnawing at my heels again," "It’s funny how that works. You never forget your first love."
Carson Dutkanych, a sophomore living in the area, is one student that keeps him headed in the right direction, Acee said. Acee has worked with Dutkanych since the high schooler was in fifth grade. Since then, Acee was able to take Dutkanych to his alma mater in North Carolina and watch him alongside national recruiters.
"Watching him grow to this year, it really is the reasons I do this," he said. Now he’s being nationally recruited."
Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country, with roughly 500 children of all ages playing in Park City alone, Acee said. 212 Lacrosse continues to grow at a fast pace.
Acee plans to soon add a competitive team for the under-13 age bracket and a year-round development course. Even as his business expands, Acee said he will never forget how a bad experience in college took years to recover from.
"I am high hopes without the high pressure," Acee said. "I think that’s where the really good results come from, getting rid of all this pressure."
"I want kids to love this sport, to take something away from it that will not only make them a better person, but also a happier person," he added.
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