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Soft-Spoken Captain Plays Big Role
by Carlos Valle

Junior longstick midfielder Mike Timms is a big part of Virginia lacrosse. The 6-5, 225-pounder is a force on the field, and everyone knows it. Timms’ toughness coupled with his gargantuan frame can be an intimidating factor for teams across the country. Those who know him well, like Virginia head coach Dom Starsia, say that Timms is somewhat of a gentle giant.

“He’s a big teddy bear of a kid but he’s got a ferocious personality on the field,” Starsia said. “He really wants to make things happen both defending his guy and pushing the ball the other way.”

Timms serves many roles on the field. His impressive speed lets him cover various parts of the field as well as some of the nation’s best midfielders. While some might find that to be a daunting task, Timms is always up for the challenge.

“His is sort of a hybrid position,” Starsia said. “He’s not really a defenseman but often times he may have to be your best defender. Their best offensive player could be a midfielder and that longstick is almost always going to pick up that guy.”

Timms insists that although he is sometimes assigned to a strong midfielder that is not what he is all about.

“It’s definitely a big challenge,” Timms said. “A lot of times my position entails more than that though. Often times teams will dodge against the shortstick midfielder more so than the long pole, so my job is to play off ball and organize the team defense.”

The entire Virginia defense has had to do some reorganizing this season as several key players from last season graduated, including goalie Kip Turner and defenseman Ricky Smith. Timms is confident that Virginia’s young talent, along with leadership from some returning veterans, can lead the Cavaliers to another successful season.

“Those were some key guys that we lost last year,” Timms said. “To fill that void we have a lot of talent on defense. Competition was pretty tight for the starting jobs. We are young overall, but we have four returning starters from last year, including myself and Will Barrow.”

Timms joins Barrow not only as a returning starter, but also as a team co-captain. Although Timms is a junior on the field, this is his fourth year with the team since he redshirted his freshman year due to a knee injury. His teammates appreciate his vast experience and the fire with which he plays. They have acknowledged that by selecting him a captain.

“It’s a great honor,” Timms said. “As a senior I consider myself a leader of the team and I’m glad that my teammates did too.”

In order to fulfill his new duties as team captain, Timms will no doubt have to lead by example. His teammates can learn from the physical toughness that makes him fully committed to the team. He pushes himself in every practice just like he does in games. Timms plays with a drive and intensity unmatched by few.

“That’s just part of sports in general,” Timms said. “You wouldn’t do too well in lacrosse if you weren’t that kind of guy. I don’t like to let someone put me out of the game just because they hit me.”

Timms’ physical toughness would be nothing without its mental counterpart. He can break down and analyze an offense and make smart plays away from the ball. Timms also needs to be thinking about how best to take advantage of a turnover while still maintaining focus on the current situation.

“At all defensive spots you have to be able to stay poised and react to what the offense is doing,” Timms said. “They are dictating to you. It’s hard to dictate the offense. You need to be able to read them, and if you make a bad play, you need to be able to pick your head up and not let it affect the next time you are on defense.”

Timms also carries his mental toughness on the field into the classroom. An ACC honor roll student for all three years, Timms sets an example for his teammates off the field as well. That is no easy task.

“It’s tough to maintain that balance,” Timms said. “It takes a lot of effort. There are a lot of sacrifices. You don’t get to do everything that a normal college student gets to do and you just have to pick and choose where you want to spend your energy.”

The sacrifices Timms makes and the energy he plays with have not gone unnoticed. Barrow has been playing alongside Timms for three years and has certainly learned a lot from him.

“Mike is such a great athlete and such a dominant force on the lacrosse field,” Barrow said. “You have no choice but to respect his game. He’s so big, so quick and so rangy that he could cover the top half of the field by himself if he wanted to. He is a great friend and I don’t think I can imagine playing defense without Mike there next to me.”

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