Dec 122004
 
Authors: Jon Pilsner

The opportunity to play before 18,000 rabid fans as a professional lacrosse player is not a regular occurrence for many players.

But the National Lacrosse League has come calling for Mark Plonkey.

Plonkey, the former CSU lacrosse defenseman and captain, has made the transition from a collegiate to a professional team.

"It's a huge leap," said Plonkey, now a member of the Colorado Mammoth professional indoor lacrosse team. "Some of the guys (on the team) I grew up idolizing. All these guys are professional athletes."

Plonkey has come a long way, from playing in high school to playing at the club sport level to playing in the pros.

A graduate of Chatfield High School in Littleton, Plonkey looked at Division I lacrosse programs, as well as some Division II and Division III schools that offered him scholarships to play.

"It had always been my dream to play lacrosse at the Division-I level," Plonkey said. "But, I didn't know if the small schools would fit me."

Some of the schools offering were smaller than his high school, and most were located on the East Coast.

Plonkey also looked at Denver, but decided not to attend. On a whim, Plonkey applied to CSU.

"I had no idea the successes they had," Plonkey said. "I was glad I ended up at CSU; it was destiny I showed up."

Plonkey entered the tutelage of CSU lacrosse coach Flip Naumberg and became a member of a lacrosse team that won two national titles in 2001 and 2003. Plonkey credits Naumberg for what the coach has done not only for him but also for the entire CSU lacrosse team.

"I don't think Flip gets enough credit from the university or the people outside of Northern Colorado," Plonkey said. "He's been like a second father to me when I first walked on the CSU campus."

Then in January, the NLL draft came around and Plonkey knew he had the interest of the Mammoth organization. He did not know, however, that he would be drafted. In fact, he didn't expect it and was surprised to hear the news.

"I figured they'd invite me in to training camp to try out," Plonkey said. "But in January I got a phone call and I found out I was drafted."

Plonkey found out this past week that he survived the first round of cuts, and when he heals from a torn meniscus suffered in practice, he will be on the team's practice squad.

"I think a year on the practice squad will be good," Plonkey said. "(Indoor lacrosse) is a completely different game."

After being drafted, Plonkey reported to training camp on Nov. 13. He was scheduled to play in the Mammoth exhibition games against the Minnesota Swarm this past Friday and Saturday, but his injury stopped him.

"It's just the start of a long road ahead," he said.

Plonkey, who is scheduled to graduate this May with a degree in history and education, will spend next semester student-teaching at Arapahoe High School in Littleton. Like many other players on the Mammoth, he hopes to be a substitute teacher and eventually a full-time teacher.

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