November 12, 2012

Go Hands Free with U.S. U19, UNC Midfielder Tagliaferri

by Matt Forman | | Twitter

What I Do

Fly Frequently

I was the first Californian to make the U.S. national team at any level, for the U19 team, and it was a great experience. I spent most of the summer on the road on the East Coast, and I basically became family with the 23 guys on the team. They were all my brothers. We became so close. Winning the gold medal, after adversity getting there, was an unbelievable experience. It was probably the biggest accomplishment of my athletic career. There was sacrifice — I flew back and forth across the country eight times, and I missed high school graduation — but it wasn't about me, it was for the letters on the front of my jersey.

Embrace the Moment

My dad played in the NFL for the Dolphins, and football has been a big part of my athletic career. As a senior my high school, San Ramon Valley (Calif.) lost in the state championship, and our quarterback, Zach Kline, was the Gatorade Player of the Year. I played running back and safety, and I returned kicks and punts. I always tried to make the big play and energize the team. In lacrosse, you always want the ball in your stick when the game is on the line. In football, when it was fourth-and-long and we needed a first down, I always wanted the ball. It's a mentality — don't shy away from it, embrace it. I wore No. 21 in football, and I will be No. 21 at North Carolina [This fall Tagliaferri suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery]. I loved watching Deion Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson. I can't think of one sport I don't like playing, or doesn't help with other sports. Football is about toughness, speed, footwork, big moments and pad level. And all that relates to lacrosse. My advice would be to play as many sports as possible.

Never Back Down

The best advice I've ever gotten: Work hard and never give up. I've been in countless situations, mostly in athletics, where things do not seem possible. The team doesn't seem like it can come back. A season is basically over. Or an individual is over-matched. But through it all, you never know where hard work will take you. For that reason, never give up. You never know where it will go. Coming from California, I never thought I could go this far in lacrosse. But I worked hard and never gave up.

My Guilty Pleasure

Singing Taylor Swift in the car with my younger sisters, Lainey and Carolina, whenever I drive with them. "Our Song," "Hey Stephen" and "Love Story." I'm getting much better at singing. My sisters tell me I haven't. But I've definitely improved. I think I'm getting there. I'll probably kill it at karaoke night sometime soon.

My Family Time

I love hanging out with my family, and I have four siblings. My mom is one of eight siblings, so we have a big family. We spend a lot of time together. Growing up, I enjoyed going to Flathead Lake in Montana to my grandparents' house. We went there every single summer, sometimes for over a month, and I still try to go when I can. It's the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. It's beautiful. We would go tubing, boating, wake boarding, doing bonfires, making smores. And cliff jumping, which I love.

My Favorite Drill

I'm very competitive, so I like scrimmaging. There's nothing better than getting to play, replicating live game-like situations on the field. One of the best ways to get better is playing the game — really getting after it and taking it seriously when you're in practice. I enjoy running the field, transition situations and uneven fast breaks that happen naturally during play.

A version of this article appears in the November issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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