Peter Athens has traded the football for a lacrosse stick.
Athens, who was the starting quarterback of a Towson football program that advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision title game in January, has joined the lacrosse team. He was present – but did not play in – the No. 19 Tigers’ 14-9 victory over Navy on Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-1, 209-pound fifth-year senior was an All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference player in lacrosse twice at Huntingtown and played for Towson in 2012 before concentrating on football.
Athens, who is three credits shy of graduating with a degree in sports management, said he got the itch to return to lacrosse while serving an internship with the university’s equipment manager, and watching the team play in scrimmages convinced him to listen when coach Shawn Nadelen reached out to Athens.
“Coach asked me to come back, and I was very excited to come back,” said Athens, who missed the first few weeks of the season to allow his sprained right shoulder to heal without surgery. “I wanted to play my last spring because I was done with football and everything. … I’m very blessed that Coach Nadelen asked me to come back, and I’m very, very thankful for that.”
Nadelen said asking Athens to return was a no-brainer because the team had lost a few players to injuries and off-field reasons.
“[Y]ou can’t ask for a better guy than a hard-working captain from the national champion finalist football team and a guy that just understands what it means to work hard, lead by example, communicate how to lead and how to motivate others,” Nadelen said. “He’s just a guy that our team has responded well to. A ton of guys know him. I told them the night before a morning practice that he was going to be a part of it, and the texts just blew up. Everyone welcomed him with open arms. He’s a great guy, and he’s meshed himself well into our philosophy.”
What’s unclear is if Athens will play. He scored just one goal in eight games in 2012, and the Tigers have considerable depth in the midfield, which is his listed position. Nadelen said he was candid with Athens about playing time before he joined the program.
“Pete and I talked about him coming back and what the situation would be,” Nadelen said. “I told him, ‘Hey, you might not even step out onto the field for a game. Obviously, we can use you as a scout team guy.’ He said, ‘Coach, I just want to get back and play. I want to be part of the team. I’m going crazy.’ He’s only taking one class. He said, ‘I’d love to just be a part of it and wherever I can help out, I want to help out.’ That’s the kind of young man that he is.”
Athens is realistic about playing time, insisting that he has no expectations.
“I know that I’m going to be a little rusty. I haven’t played in two years,” he said. “When I played two years ago, I didn’t play a whole lot. I’m not expecting to play right away. I just want to contribute in any way that I can.
"If I don’t play, I know I gave it my all, and I made the decision that I’m not going to regret it because I love the game of lacrosse and I love being able to play it. If I’m able to play, that’s awesome. If not, I know I’m doing my part on the scout team.”