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Ready to Tackle the Future
By Geoff Brown

It’s safe to say that the majority of college seniors across the country who aren’t planning to attend graduate school are growing increasingly nervous about the uncertain job market awaiting them. The economic news seems to get grimmer as graduation day approaches with many companies laying off employees rather than hiring new ones. In these troubling times emerges Michael Britt, a reserve defenseman who seems to have it all figured out and under control.

Following his May graduation, Britt plans to move to the remote Mojave Desert in Arizona and work with his grandfather in land development. His grandfather purchased the land three decades ago and recently drilled two wells, which can pump more than 9,000 gallons of water per day. Britt and his grandfather will use that water to cultivate algae and produce biodiesel fuel, a daunting task for the religious studies major with little background in science.

But Britt won’t be alone when he moves to Arizona to begin his career. Joining him will be is fiance, Lauren Dickman, a Tucson, Ariz., native, who is a kinesiology major and captain of UVa’s cheerleading squad. It almost sounds too good to be true, but Britt’s story has even more Hollywood script material. Last December, he proposed to Dickman on her birthday while vacationing in Disney World with his family.

“I’m a grown up…it’s weird,” he joked while detailing what his future after college will be like.

Things didn’t start quite this easy for Britt. As the second youngest of seven boys all born within a nine-and-a-half-year span, he remembers how competitive, rambunctious, and often times dangerous things would get when he and his brothers were all together.

“I can’t imagine how many times we’ve had to patch up the walls from all the body parts being thrown through. There are BBs still in the floorboards,” he joked. He described how the Britt boys were divided into three tightly knit groups, while still remaining one solid unit where everyone looked out for each other. The three oldest boys, Gardner, Ray and Andy are close, the middle ones Will and Alex have a special bond, while Michael’s best friend is his little brother Joe, who will serve as the best man at his wedding next year. A passion for lacrosse is one major thing that the two have in common; Joe is a starting midfielder and face-off man for Penn State.

Britt likes to give his younger brother a hard time when discussing their diverging lacrosse careers.

“We like to joke quite often. He plays a lot and I don’t play too much. But we win a lot, while his team isn’t as successful,” Michael says.

The Nittany Lions accrued a 12-15 record in Joe’s first two years with the program while Michael has been on an undefeated national championship team and two final four squads while at UVa.

In looking back on his time at Virginia, Britt recalls the 2006 NCAA Championship team with a great degree of nostalgia.

“First year spoiled me. (I was on) one of the greatest teams of all time. That whole senior class was amazing; I was playing with a bunch of legends. That year was special and there’s a chance this year can be special too,” he said.

Now that he is one of the veterans on the team, Britt sees a bit of himself in some of the younger players who are learning what it takes to play at such a high level. As a senior class, Britt noted that, “we have seen what it takes to win.”

He admires the effort his teammates have been showing in the offseason to prepare for the 2009 campaign after the crushing end to the last season, a double overtime loss to Syracuse in the NCAA semifinals. Senior midfielder Steve Giannone and senior attackman Danny Glading have been on the practice field shooting balls 30 minutes before the coaches arrive, while sophomore midfielder Shamel Bratton practically lives in the weight room, adding 10 pounds and maintaining about five percent body fat.

“That’s not happening with me. I’m too old and brittle for that,” Britt quipped.

Although his playing time while at UVa has been limited and he isn’t expected to play much this season, his hard work and dedication to the team over the past four years has not gone unnoticed.

“Michael has always been a mature reasonable voice for us,” said head coach Dom Starsia. “He is a good influence on his teammates and he is someone that I know that I can send down to the other end of the field to get something done and he’s going to do a good job of it. He takes pride in what we’re doing and he takes pride in who he is and what his role is on this team, but he’s also mature enough to be able to appreciate the bigger picture.”

Britt is very open about his playing time and has been able to “appreciate the bigger picture” as coach Starsia put it. But the dented and scuffed basement walls of the Britt home in Oakton, Va., serve as a reminder that the second youngest of seven boys has always had to cast his ego aside and be a team player.

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