Robert Frost’s classic poem “The Road Not Taken”, begins with an ambiguous first couple of lines “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / and sorry I could not travel both.” Freshman Springfield College lacrosse player, Kyle Dillon, met these two roads that diverged in the wood; one that led him toward physical therapy and Division III lacrosse, while the other road promised a Division I lacrosse scholarship. It took him a while to get to these two roads. The journey was rough, grueling and showed no mercy at some points in his athletic career, but his final fate awaited him. Which road would he choose?
Long before Dillon had several Division I schools overwhelming his email inbox back in his hometown of Mahopac, New York, he had never heard of the fast-paced, stick-twirling sport of lacrosse until seventh grade. Dillon found that holding a metal rod with a net at the top of it was quite different from catching a football, shooting a basketball, or scoring a goal in soccer. His stick skills weren’t entirely up-to-date in comparison to the other kids who were born with a lacrosse stick in their hands. “I dreaded going to practices, because it was embarrassing since I wasn’t good at all,” stated Dillon. However, Dillon did not let his discouraged state get the best of him, and the ‘never give up’ mentality was drilled in his head.
Of course, Dillon needed a little extra push along the way to engrave this motto in his mind, and that extra motivational push came from his number one fan, his mother. “He’s the kind of guy that would go to practice and then come home and practice two more hours on his own in the backyard. He’s like a freak,” said a proud, but modest Geraldine Dillon. Kyle’s freaky and crazy practicing habits allowed him to soar to greater heights once he hit eighth grade, but the excitement didn’t really start until sophomore year of high school.
“My dream was to go to a Division I school…that was my biggest dream,” Dillon said with a sparkling smile. The first email and phone call Dillon got came knocking his sophomore year when he attended the Bulldog Bash at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The Yale lacrosse coach emailed him an hour after the tournament was done, and informed him to keep up his grades and they would keep an eye on him. Being at the Bulldog Bash opened up many doors for Dillon in his succeeding junior year, where many Division I universities contacted him and offered him scholarships to play for them. Only one of these schools that reached out to him caught his eye, which was Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dillon loved it there so much and figured his dream was about to come true. That is, until he had a devastating back injury the summer before his senior year of high school and visited Springfield College, which would forever, change his route and aspirations.
One beautiful summer day, Dillon started experiencing severe lower back pain, which progressively got worse. When he finally went to see a doctor about his back pain, he found out that a muscle in his lower back called the QL (quadratus lumborum) was misfiring due to overuse and wasn’t using the other muscles surrounding it. Dillon went through some serious physical therapy for his back injury, which had him sitting out during the football and basketball seasons. There was even some doubt from doctors and other therapists that Dillon would be able to play any sports again.
However, this wasn’t the first adversity Dillon had faced, and he had come so far from seventh grade that he wasn’t quite ready to put the stick down yet. Dillon went to physical therapy where his cousin worked and got an up close and personal taste of the wonders behind the profession. He started to find the human body fascinating and liked the looks of his cousin’s fun and enjoyable lifestyle as a physical therapist. Luckily, Dillon was able to play his senior year in lacrosse and earned the Brine All-American award at the end of the season. Even with this high achievement Dillon couldn’t get away from the lasso pulling him towards physical therapy. “At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to do PT,” said Dillon. “I figure life is about helping people, and PT is all about that.”
With Dillon’s new dream in place of wanting to become a future physical therapist, he still wanted to play Division I lacrosse, but something was telling him to go a different direction. “All of a sudden, he says to me ‘Mom I was thinking of Springfield…I’m telling ya mom, there’s something about the coach, I have to go there’ and I tell him: Kyle you’re freaking me out. What is it? What could be so great?” stated Mrs. Dillon. It was almost as if fate had brought Kyle to the perfectly green-grassed, quaint, and small campus of Springfield College. He fell in love with the campus right away and liked how the Springfield College men’s lacrosse head coach, Keith Bugbee was extremely welcoming when he got there. “He was one of the young guys that we saw right away that we thought we would try to find a home for him,” Coach Bugbee commented.
However, there was something else that sealed the deal for Dillon and it had nothing to do with how green the grass was or how friendly the coaches and teammates were. It was a simple three worded motto that was written all over campus: Mind, Body, and Spirit. “Mind, body, spirit, my parents would always say that to me, it’s kind of weird how that happened,” Dillon said still having a puzzled and confused look on his face. Even to his parents’ surprise, especially his mother, it was strange and bizarre how things just seemed to be picture-perfect. “When we went to Springfield, we went over to see Coach Bugbee and then all of a sudden we look up at the school and it says Mind, Body, and Spirit. We looked at each other and I said ‘Oh my God, this is it Kyle, this is it,” said a surprised Mrs. Dillon. It was a happily ever after story how everything worked out for Kyle, and he ended up having the best of both worlds: playing lacrosse and pursuing his major in physical therapy.
While the college decision was still difficult for Dillon, he knew that Springfield was the right place for him. “It’s been a great experience so far, he loves the coaches and the guys, and he’s working really hard, because PT is no joke, you know,” Mrs. Dillon said. Sometimes the combination lifestyle of majoring in physical therapy and playing Division III lacrosse has its rough times, but in the end Kyle wouldn’t have changed his decision for the world.
Dillon’s six-foot, thin body structure can be found in the No. 43 maroon and white uniform running onto Amos Alonzo Stagg Field playing for the Springfield College Pride, or sitting in a chemistry lecture hall size of 65 students all trying to make it through the rigorous spring semester. Dillon is one of the few freshmen that receives playing time in the games. “He’s a wonderful guy to coach, he’s just got a great attitude, and he just works hard,” Coach Bugbee stated. However, due to the large amount of upper classmen, Dillon plays defensive midfielder rather than his natural position, offensive midfielder.
Frost ends his poem with “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-/ I took the one less travelled by, / and that has made all the difference.” Dillon might have taken the less travelled road when given the opportunity to play Division I lacrosse, but in the end it has made all the difference in his life for the better.