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“There was no ill will about that team,” Zink added. “I was lucky enough to be a part of it, to go over and travel with them as an alternate. So I got to experience what the worlds are all about, and it only makes you train harder for the next go around.”


After January’s Champion Challenge, where Pietramala feverishly worked both sidelines during the nationally televised U.S. Blue-White game, the coaches forged forward with a mostly younger defense that includes current collegian Joe Fletcher (Loyola) and 2013 Maryland grad Jesse Bernhardt. Zink graduated from Maryland in


2004.


“Having a player like Lee Zink who is


very experienced and has been around the block is critical,” Pietramala said. “He has played against many of the guys we’ll see from the Iroquois and Canada. It has been interesting to watch him move on and have a lengthy career from being rock solid in high school, on to college and the pros. He does it in his own calm, cool, collected and poised way.” The opportunity to play in Denver added to Zink’s motivation. “This is my hometown now,” said Zink, who grew up in Connecticut, “so I always had that in the back of my mind — to do whatever I could to give myself the best chance to make the team.”


DO DENVER ZINK’S WAY


Whether it’s walking their dog through Washington Park, hiking in the foothills, or biking along the Cherry Creek path, Lee Zink and his wife, Kiera, embody an active Denver lifestyle. Zink moved to Denver in 2004, after graduating as a two-time All-American defenseman at Maryland. He played one season on the practice squad for the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, and then began playing for the Denver Outlaws of the MLL in 2006, after two seasons (and one MLL title) with the then-Baltimore Bayhawks. Initially, he lived in downtown Denver, near his job at Baytex Energy. The Zinks are regulars at Sushi Den for dinner. They enjoy Snooze for weekend breakfast. Their favorite downtown eateries are Squeaky Bean on Wynkoop and Osteria Marko in Larimer Square.


Active lacrosse fans will enjoy exploring the bike paths all over the city and suburbs, Zink


said. He suggests using the B-Cycle bicycle borrowing program or heading to the foothills for a hike near Red Rocks and the Morrison area, just west of Denver.


— T.S. A Publication of US Lacrosse


Lee Zink puts his wingspan to work in the foothills near Red Rocks, not far from his home in Washington Park, Colo.


No matter who makes the final 23, Zink sees a winner in this U.S. team. “The coaches say it is a challenge to pick, and they’ve put forth a team that is going to win the gold,’’ he said. “The strength of the team is that we have a bunch of great athletes. We can control the tempo. The key to success is to dictate the pace of play.” Thirty-seven other teams, including five in the top-flight Blue Division, will take their best shot at Team USA, a far cry from the eight teams that participated in 1998, when US Lacrosse last hosted the World Championship. Zink attended those games in Baltimore as a 17-year- old. While he never imagined playing for Team USA, he said, he also never imagined lining up across from Uganda, Norway and Thailand.


As spring gives way to summer, Zink said it will be easier to combine his full-time responsibilities at an oil and gas financing company with CrossFit training, stick-skill sessions in the park and the strength training prescribed by Team USA coach Jay Dyer.


After all, the lacrosse world is coming to his backyard, and a championship quest awaits him.


— Theresa Smith April 2014 >> LACROSSE MAGAZINE 63


©MARC PISCOTTY


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