Eric Vanags recently walked into his bedroom and saw a lacrosse ball sitting on top of his pillow. It read: "No. 42 looking back at No. 33" and was signed by Dudley Dixon.
Dixon, a transfer from Towson State to Johns Hopkins who wears No. 33, plays against his former team for the first time today and goes head-to-head with his current roommate and Tigers defenseman Vanags, who is No. 42 for Towson.
Although he now attends Johns Hopkins, Dixon still rooms off campus with three Towson players.
And the trash-talking has been relentless.
"I've been looking forward to this game for 1 1/2 years," Dixon said. "We play Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia, but Towson was the first game on the schedule that I circled."
Last year, Towson beat the Blue Jays with Dixon, who had to sit out a year because of the transfer, standing on the Hopkins sidelines. As the teams shook hands at the end of the game, Vanags greeted Dixon with a big grin, but Dixon looked the other way.
"The guys on the team look at him almost like a traitor," said Vanags, a senior captain who still considers Dixon one of his best friends. "It's tremendous motivation because he just kind of left us. It would have been different if he went to another school. But he just walked down the block to one of our biggest rivals."
Towson coach Carl Runk refuses to talk about Dixon and didn't sign a release that would have allowed Dixon to play last year.
"He's a great player but he's got something to prove why he left us," Tigers attackman Matt Clune said.
Dixon scored 52 goals in two years with the Tigers and was named the team's Rookie of the Year in 1994. He said he transferred to Hopkins during the summer of 1995 because of a possible switch from attack to midfield and a better shot at the national title.
"He felt bad because it had nothing to do with Coach Runk and we've always been close with Coach Runk," said Dixon's brother Lindsay, a Tigers All-American five years ago. "A lot of people ask me who am I cheering for? I tell them I'm a die-hard Hopkins fan for two years and that's it. Blood is thicker than water."
In his first season with the No. 3 Blue Jays, Dixon has become the team's best finisher and feeder. He leads Hopkins in points (53), goals (36), assists (17) and extra-man goals (4), and has recorded at least two goals and an assist in every game this season.
Besides his quick release and ability to find the open man, Dixon has added a unique brand of wit into the Hopkins locker room. Blue Jays coach Tony Seaman refers to him as "Mr. Personality."
One of the biggest jokes was played on Seaman the night before the season opener. Posing as a Princeton reporter, Dixon called up Seaman, asking him several questions, including his opinion of Dixon.
"He's got an unbelievable sense of humor. ," Seaman said. "But as much as he fools around, he is the first one on the field before practice and he and [John] Gagliardi are the last two to leave. He's a really dedicated athlete."
But Dixon isn't joking this week. It's the only game of the year that won't get his laid-back approach.
"I had to go home and see the smiles from my roommates," Dixon said. "I know I was used in the pre-game speeches. They used me for motivation last year and I'm using them as motivation this year."
Pub Date: 4/26/97