Lancers to honor Fauske

By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA

Elliot Fauske didn’t call Rochester home all that long, really. Not when compared to roster tenures of Derek Jeter with the New York Yankees or Tom Brady with the New England Patriots.

But in his four seasons playing indoor soccer with the Rochester Lancers, Fauske made quite an impact. On and off the playing surface.

That’s why the Lancers organization, headed by Sam Fantauzzo, will honor Fauske on Saturday afternoon before the outdoor season finale at Charlie Schiano Sr. Field on the campus of Aquinas Institute.

Fauske will be the Lancers’ honorary captain for the game against the Erie Commodores, and “Soccer Sam” may have another surprise in store as well.

“He’s probably one of the best defenders and marketing guys we ever had,” Fantauzzo said. “We figured out through him how to get the casual fan to fall in love with soccer. He was so great in the community. He knew how to deal with kids and he knew how to sell it.”

In reality, Fauske was just being himself. Granted, he couldn’t have picked out Rochester on a map of New York state before he came to town in 2011, but he immediately embraced the city and fans. And likewise.

“You kind of get out what you put in,” he said. “I put a lot into the city, and the people gave so much back.”

Thus, he has nothing but fond memories of his time playing for the indoor Lancers, and living here.

“I knew nothing about Rochester,” Fauske said before boarding a red-eye flight from his home state of Washington on Thursday night. “I thought you couldn’t be more than three hours from New York City and still be in the state.”

Oh, and the Nick Tahou’s garbage plate? Yeah, a little different, he admits, but nothing outlandish. “Whenever I cook, it pretty much looks like a garbage plate anyway,” he said.

When Soccer Sam told Fauske that he wanted him to be Saturday’s honorary captain, the man with the Mohawk hair style was touched.

“My first thought was gratitude,” he said. “It means a lot to me; I was pretty emotional.”

So honored, in fact, he created a video to summarize his career and say thank you to Lancers Nation. You can watch here:

 

Forget soccer, this guy has a future in front of a camera. Believe it or not, his hairstyle hasn’t changed much, either. Well, the Mohawk may be even more radical now than when it debuted in 2011. It became his trademark while in Rochester.

Perhaps you’re wondering where the brainstorm for the Mohawk come from. He owes it to Rochester, though he doesn’t know the name of the man who actually provided the inspiration.

Fauske and some friends were leaving a downtown eatery when a man who’d obviously been enjoying a few (a few dozen?) adult beverages said something about having worn a Mohawk back in high school.

“I looked at my friends and said, ‘Where’d that come from?’ I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

At the time, Fauske wore the hair on the sides of his head very short, but he certainly had no Mohawk. Ah, but never plant the seed of adventure if you’re not prepared for the party.

Fauske decided to wear a Mohawk to practice the next day and, at the urging of his teammates, kept it for the game that weekend. The Mohican Warrior was born.

“So I guess I owe a thank you, whoever you are,” Fauske said. “Your next 46 drinks are on me.”

Once kids saw Fauske playing with the new ‘do, they began wearing Mohawk wigs to Lancers games. Thus, in honor of the Mohican Warrior, anyone coming to Saturday’s Lancers game with a Mohawk, or a Mohawk wig, will get in free. (Otherwise, tickets are just $10, with kids under 10 admitted for free).

Fauske played the past indoor season with the Tacoma Stars. At least he tried to play. He suffered a concussion in an on-field collision during a game on Oct. 29 that ended his season, and maybe his career.

Because he suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008 during a construction accident, doctors are fearful that another incident in a soccer game could have very detrimental long-term consequences.

“From where I sit right now, I do not foresee playing again,” he said. “I still have some blurry vision and pretty intense concussion symptoms.”

Saturday’s visit will give Fauske a chance to once again say hello to Lancers fans.

“I’m excited to go back,” he said. “I get excited about the people and the experiences and relationships. I was completely embraced by the community, ownership, the fans, even beyond the soccer community.”

Halftime Wall of Fame Ceremony: Four new members of the Lancers Wall of Fame will be inducted. Former players Frank Carricchio, Manfred Seissler and Jim Pollihan, along with the late Democrat and Chronicle sports columnist Bruno Sniders, will be honored.

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