Alan Hodish was at home with his family on Long Island a few weeks ago when he heard his name on national television.
In an unusual summer, Hodish found himself doing something familiar, watching the sport he’s coached for decades. On a Saturday afternoon, he turned on a Professional Lacrosse League game between the Redwoods and Altas.
In the second quarter, with the game tied 3-3, a celebrity guest appeared on screen to talk about his love of the game and his partnership with the PPL.
“You know him as an actor, a rapper, and a member of the Wu-Tang Clan,” the NBC broadcaster announced. “He’s also a giant lacrosse fan with a big part of the sport in his history growing up.”
Everyone with a pulse on hip-hop or pop culture recognized Method Man instantly. Everyone but Alan Hodish.
Method Man received his first lacrosse stick when he was eleven years old, and started playing competitively in Hempstead soon after.
Long Island is an area historically home to some of the game’s best players in the nation. Arguably one of the best lacrosse players of all time, Jim Brown, played at nearby Manhasset.
Method Man was, apparently, pretty good himself. On the broadcast, he claimed to have played for multiple all-star teams as a kid.
“I just fell in love with the game off top,” he told the TV crew. “It’s like having track, football, hockey, all in one game. It’s a beautiful game man, I love lacrosse.”
A commentator asked the Grammy winner about his favorite play.
North Carolina, he replied.
“Coach Hodish used to call this play when the ball went out of bounds,” said Method Man. The play was designed for the midfielder to dish an assist to the attack or take a shot himself.
“I loved that play because it was mine and mine alone.”
Hodish knew the play, but was surprised to hear his name.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Hodish told Deadspin. “After I watched this segment, I looked to my daughter and I said, ‘That’s great!’”
“‘But who exactly is Method Man?’”
The coach and his daughter spent the next few minutes scouring the internet learning just whom this young, budding lacrosse star turned out to be.
Once Hodish saw Method Man’s real name, Cliford Smith, Jr., he remembered the player he’d once coached.
“He was a physical player and a good part of our program,” said Hodish.
Still, Hodish was “surprised that an impression was made,” all those years ago.
Hodish, a recent inductee to the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame, has spent years of his life coaching at the high school and youth level. A practicing lawyer, Hodish still carves out time to coach youth teams like he did in the 70s and 80s.
And, yes, he still keeps North Carolina in his coaching arsenal for the next talented midfielder.
“[Smith] obviously has a love for the game which I’m happy to say began in the early stages right here in Hempstead,” Hodish said. “I think that’s just an outstanding thing.”
After playing for coach Hodish, Smith Jr. moved to Shaolin, leaving lacrosse and his alter ego on Long Island.