Barney Ehrmann made a choice his father, Joe — once a member of the Baltimore Colts fabled 1970s defensive line nicknamed the "Sack Pack" — might not have made by choosing lacrosse over football.
An accomplished football player in his own right at Gilman, Barney had the opportunity to play at the Division-I level after earning first-team All-State honors as a defensive end.
Top-notch lacrosse programs wanted him, too, and that's the sport he chose after he held future Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick to a goal and two assists in the Greyhounds' 12-11 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game loss to Loyola Blakefield in 2008.
"I just love lacrosse," said Ehrmann, noting his father didn't allow him to play football until the eighth grade in fear of injury. "I have played it since I was 5 years old. I like the lifestyle.
"Practicing every day for me is fun," he added. "Football games were incredible, but getting through the week wasn't quite as fun. I didn't have as much fun practicing and playing it."
Choosing lacrosse proved to be a good move for the 6-foot-6, 230-pound defenseman from Roland Park, a second-year starter for the Major League Lacrosse's Chesapeake Bayhawks.
Bayhawks president and head coach Dave Cottle is glad to have him on the team.
Cottle valued Ehrmann enough as a player to protect him and another defender in the league's expansion draft last year. Three other defenders were left unprotected.
"I think Barney has the potential to be an all-star in this league without any question," said Cottle, a former University of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland coach. "He is a really good one-on-one defender. He can cover a quick guy down low and a big guy up top, so he has the ability to do a couple of different things."
The 24-year-old Ehrmann is thoroughly enjoying Chesapeake's 2012 campaign as the season winds down and the team gears up to make a run a championship run.
Annapolis-based Chesapeake –- the league champion in 2010 — boasts the best record (8-2) in the eight-team league.
Being the last team standing after the playoffs, which start Aug 25 in Boston, is Ehrmann's goal.
"Winning a championship would mean the world to me," Ehrmann said. "Playing at Georgetown, we never made the playoffs after my freshman year, Last year, the Bayhawks making the semifinals (where they lost to Boston) was a good step forward. This year, we have a good shot at being the No. 1 seed."
Ehrmann is doing his part, ranking fourth on the team in groundballs with 29 in nine games.
He scooped up a season-high six on July 7 in a 12-10 loss to Charlotte.
"I was flying all over the place and I had a couple of takeaways," Ehrmann said.
Ehrmann loves to play the game with an edge. It's his job to intimidate and deck opponents.
"I definitely like being physical and hitting guys," Ehrmann said. "I have the ability to cover guys and shut them down. Getting the ball off the ground and moving it forward to transition into our offensive end is one of my biggest strengths."
Cottle said he has seen a lot of growth from Ehrmann since his rookie season.
"He's shown a lot more maturity," the coach said. "Usually the second year is the one that makes or breaks you. If they are really serious about this thing, they go on. Barney is one those guys that went on."
Despite joining the team late last year after the college season ended, Ehrmann had an impact during his first game, a 16-15 overtime win against Denver.
"Barney made a contribution immediately," Cottle said. "He stripped the ball from one of the Denver players at the end of the game and we came back and won."
Ehrmann, who works full-time as a sales rep for a document-imaging company, said the transition from playing at Georgetown to his part-time job with the Bayhawks proved to be challenging.
"There is a big adjustment there coming in halfway through the season," Ehrmann said. "The speed of the game is completely different. There are a lot of different rules. I wasn't familiar with many of the guys I played with and against. This year has been much easier. I am playing at the level I want to."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun