Finley Middle School Lacrosse Player is One of Two Ultimate MLL Fans Selected as Captains for Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game

Finley Middle School student Michael Hatala is the winner of the Ultimate Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Fan Fantasy, and recently served as an honorary captain for the 2011 Sports Authority MLL All-Star Game held at Harvard Stadium in Boston, MA on Saturday, July 9th. Michael, 13, was one of only two winners nationwide, the other being 14-year-old Nathan Solomon of Alpharetta, GA.

Following a random selection of 20 youngsters from throughout the country, Michael and Nathan submitted the two winning essays that were judged by top MLL athletes. As a result, Michael and Nathan each had the opportunity to pick their own MLL All-Star Team from the field of 40 MLL All-Stars playing in the game, as well as serving as captains.

“This is the first time in league history that we’ve hosted a contest that would truly put the fans in control of selecting the two All-Star teams,” said MLL Commissioner David Gross. “We are thrilled by the success of the contest. We received entries from all over the country, which is a testament to both the growth of the league and the sport itself. Nathan and Michael hand-pick their very own MLL All-Star Team and had the Ultimate MLL Fan Experience.”

Michael’s winning entry portrayed an image of a dedicated Long Island Lizards fan that found strength on the lacrosse field to overcome adversity after being bullied when he was younger.

“It means so much to be chosen,” Michael said. “It gave me a chance to encourage lacrosse kids to feel better about themselves. I’m honored to represent Glen Cove Lacrosse!”

Michael came across the contest while on a lacrosse website. A window popped up on his screen about the contest and he decided to enter. He was ecstatic when he learned he had been chosen as one of 20 finalists asked to write an essay explaining why he should be an honorary captain.
The essays were judged by seven of the league’s best athletes including lacrosse sensation Paul Rabil of the Boston Cannons, Max Seibald of the Denver Outlaws, Drew Westervelt of the Denver Outlaws, Max Quinzani of the Boston Cannons, Martin Cahill of the Rochester Rattlers, Matt Poskay of the Boston Cannons, and Nicky Polanco of the Long Island Lizards.

Michael’s essay left a great impression on Lizards defenseman Nicky Polanco. Like Michael, he turned to lacrosse as an outlet for dealing with life’s adversities, including bullying.

“I think it’s great that Michael wants to promote the feeling of confidence that comes with having teammates,” said Mr. Polanco, “…MLL players are proud to be ambassadors for the game and to leave lasting impressions on kids like Michael.”

The All-Star selection event was held at Harvard Stadium in Boston, MA on Friday, July 8 as part of the All-Star Kick Off Party at 7:00 pm. Michael’s good friend and fellow lacrosse teammate Sean Morrissey was his guest on the field. In addition to choosing their All-Stars and captaining the team, the boys met with the players in advance and remained on the sidelines during the game.

The 2011 Sports Authority MLL All-Star Game was held at Harvard Stadium on Saturday, June 9 and aired live throughout the country on ESPN2.