When Buddy Beardmore phoned Jim Huelskamp in 1987 and asked if he wanted to play for the Washington Wave, the response told a lot about the state of indoor lacrosse in this area at the time.
"What's the Washington Wave?" Huelskamp said.
Beardmore was the coach of the Washington team that played in the Eagle League, the precursor of today's Major Indoor Lacrosse League. Huelskamp, now a five-year veteran of the MILL's Baltimore Thunder, shudders at the memory of his months with the Wave.
"It was crazy," Huelskamp said. "It was vicious and dirty, and the refs didn't call anything. I came across the middle once and got hit so hard I felt it for six months."
Huelskamp said it was Beardmore's custom to summon all 25players to the arena and then decide which 18 would dress for the game. He would let them know by writing their names one by one, very slowly, in chalk on a blackboard. The idea, Huelskamp surmises, was to promote competition.
"I dressed for the first five games and then my dad brought friends from the office for the sixth," Huelskamp said. "But Buddy didn't put my name on the blackboard. Boy, was my father ticked. So was I. I told Buddy to trade me or I wouldn't play the next year."
And that is how Huelskamp wound up with the Thunder. A graduate of Centennial High and Salisbury State, Huelskamp, 29, is onwhat Thunder coach John Stewart calls the Curly Line; the other lines are Moe and Larry, after the other members of the Three Stooges.
"We're the defensive line, the collision experts," Huelskamp said as the Thunder prepared for its game against the Wings tonight at 8 in Philadelphia.
Huelskamp, in real life an insurance agent with Budnitz and Associates, rooms with teammate Jeff Jackson.
Jackson calls Huelskamp an "enigma," even a "flake," and Stewart readily acknowledges he is on a team of "loose cannons," because "that's what you have to be to play in the MILL."
Huelskamp sometimes is the target of pranks. Once, in Detroit, Huelskamp asked to be excused from a game because he was ill. The players then taped Huelskamp's No. 20 onto their helmets and told the announcer Huelskamp was terminally ill. When the announcer passed that news on to viewers, Huelskamp bolted from his hotel room to the Joe Louis Arena, where he set the record straight.
Hoffman, meanwhile, was having a ball.
=1 "I scored a goal, and we won by 10," he said.
Thunder recalls 'crazy' Wave days
Opponent: Philadelphia Wings
Site: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, 8:05
Outlook: The Wings are coming off a 16-15 victory over the previously unbeaten Detroit Turbos, the defending MILL champion. The Thunder's leading scorers are Jeff Jackson, Matt Kerwick, Ricky Sowell and the Welsh brothers, Tim and Pat. Steve Dietrich and Tom Manos handle the goaltending. Philadelphia is led by John Tucker (Johns Hopkins), Ricky Fried (UMBC), John Conley (Towson) and Matt Panetta (Johns Hopkins). G Dallas Eliuk is second in the league in save percentage.