Influenced by his older brother Will (whose hand me down shoulder pads he continues to wear), Nick Stockman began playing lacrosse in 8th grade. Moving up through the Modified, Freshman, and JV levels, Stockman played two years of Varsity lacrosse at Colonie High School. Upon graduating from Colonie in 20017, Stockman joined the Air Force as a firefighter. After six weeks of Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, followed by four months at the Louis F. Garland DoD Fire Academy at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX, he was stationed at Moody AFB in Valdosta, GA from 2008-2013. Following his time in the military he returned home to Albany, where he is now employed as a civilian firefighter at the Watervliet Arsenal.
While Stockman still plays lacrosse occasionally with Capitalland in Halfmoon, his lacrosse focus now centers on upcoming the Shootout for Soldiers Hudson Valley event. Stockman took the time to answer some questions for us regarding his involvement with SFS and more in our Q&A.
Ten years after your graduation from Colonie, what memories of High School lacrosse stand out to you now?
NS: It’s hard to believe it has actually been ten years since I last donned the garnet and gold for Colonie. There was a core group of us who played together from Freshman right up through Varsity, and getting to know those guys and play alongside them for four years was pretty special. Some of my best friends were on that team, and it’s great to still stay in touch with them after all this time. I remember our teams were always tough too. We may have lost a few games, but they were always hard fought to the end, and we played the game the right way. That’s something that always stuck with me.
Was your experience in lacrosse helpful to you in your career as a firefighter in the Air Force?
NS: I didn’t realize it at the time, but playing varsity lacrosse definitely helped to instill in me values that would prepare me for the military. In the Air Force, there are three “Core Values”; Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Integrity first means doing the right the thing, even when no one is looking. Airmen are people of integrity, conviction, and courage. Service before self is putting the needs of the mission, the needs of the Air Force, and the needs of our country before our own needs. Excellence in all we do means continuing to improve yourself, as well as the service. We weren’t aware of it, but variations of the Core Values were being taught to us on the lacrosse team. Our Varsity coach, Mike Joyce, was tough on us. Mental lapses were never tolerated. It was as a Varsity lacrosse player that I learned a mistake is a mistake, until you make that same mistake again, then it becomes a failure. Conditioning was always a focus of our practices, and our teams were in great shape. He never demanded perfection, just our best. I remember thinking that after a few years with Coach Joyce, Basic Training would be a breeze. I was wrong, of course, as Basic Training was one of the toughest tests of my life, but I was much more prepared than if I hadn’t had that experience. I’m thankful for that.
Did you have any opportunity to play lacrosse while in the Air Force?
NS: While I was stationed in Georgia, opportunities to play lacrosse were pretty scarce. In general, the sport really hasn’t reached that part of the country yet. Valdosta was a small town with much of the population being connected to the military and the base. Being a military base, we had people there from all over the country, so I knew I wouldn’t be the only one stationed there with a lacrosse background. I was able to send out an e-mail to all base personnel soliciting other players to meet up and play catch, and we also opened it up to others who just had an interest in learning a new sport. While the initial e-mail response was pretty strong, actual attendance wasn’t what I was hoping for, so that dissolved rather quickly, unfortunately. During my last months stationed there, I discovered the local college, Valdosta State University, had a club team. I contacted them, and they were delighted to have me come out and play with them. We traveled and played teams from all over the state of Georgia and northern Florida. That was in 2013, so a good 6 years after I had last played competitively. It was a great experience, and seeing the sport begin to flourish in areas of the country where it hadn’t previously, was pretty exciting.
Tell us a little about Shootout for Soldiers, and how you became involved with the organization.
NS: Shootout For Soldiers is a 24 hour lacrosse game benefiting our nation’s heroes. The mission of SFS is to use lacrosse as a platform to engage communities with their local veterans, and support their successful transition into civilian life. This year funds raised will benefit four national charities; Team Red, White & Blue, The Gary Sinise Foundation, The Semper Fi Fund, and The Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund. In addition, two local charities will receive a portion of the proceeds raised by the event. They are the Hudson Valley Veterans Alliance, and the Hudson Valley Hero Project. All of these charities help to combat some of the biggest problems faced by our vets. Those who are wounded, homeless, or just trying to reintegrate back into the civilian world after their time serving, will all be impacted by our event. These men and women have been sacrificing so much for us without ever having been asked to. Something I find that’s often lost in all of this, is that we have an all volunteer military. It’s time that we do our part to make sure they’re taken care of when they return home.
I’ve been aware of Shootout For Soldiers for quite some time. Their first event was back in 2012, and they’ve been growing ever since. With over $1.5 million dollars raised, it’s clear they’re doing something right. I’ve always wanted to attend and participate, but my schedule just hasn’t worked out. So this year when they announced they were expanding to the Hudson Valley, one of twelve events nationwide now, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. There are about ten of us from all over the Hudson Valley volunteering to get the word out to athletes, sponsors, veterans, and the community. It’s been a thrill to be involved with something like this. I’ve already learned so much and met a lot of people I never would have before, and we’re still three months out from the event. I look forward to being involved with SFS for years to come.
What is the format of an SFS event?
NS: The biggest thing about SFS is obviously the lacrosse. Teams of all ages, men and women, will play 24 consecutive 1 hour games. This is not a tournament or recruiting opportunity. Instead, teams will compete for the good of the cause, and the fun of the game. Each team will be given pinnies, and a running score will be kept throughout the entire event; Stars vs. Stripes. When teams register, they’ll be given a fundraising goal. Teams that are fastest to that fundraising goal will be given first dibs for scheduling. To me, the appeal of playing lacrosse under the lights at 3:00 am is pretty strong! Beyond the lacrosse, there is a full on festival atmosphere to SFS events. Attendees can expect appearances by professional lacrosse players, live music, food trucks, rock climbing walls, Humvee rides, and much more.
Where and when will SFS Hudson Valley be held?
NS: The inaugural Shootout For Soldiers Hudson Valley is being held in Hillburn, NY at the Torne Valley Sports Complex. Opening ceremonies are June 16th at 7:00 pm, and we’ll be playing lacrosse straight through to the closing ceremonies 24 hours later on June 17th at 7:00 pm.
In addition to your role as an event volunteer, will you also be playing in SFS Hudson Valley?
NS: Each SFS event kicks off with the Veterans and Active Duty game. I’ll be playing in that game, but I’m also working to put together another team consisting of alumni from all across the Capital District. Representing the strong lacrosse heritage we have to offer up here at an event like this would be really special. For info on participating on that team email: NickStockman89@gmail.com.
Where can people learn more about SFS Hudson Valley?
NS: People can go to www.ShootoutForSoldiers.com for more information. They can also visit us on the following social media sites:
SFS Hudson Valley Twitter