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Duke Blue Devils’ Alum on the Need for Speed and Change in Sports
Hot off the inaugural season of the PLL, Chrome attackman Justin Guterding is giving life his all in everything he does. On the field, he’s a beast — owning the NCAA’s all-time record for goal scoring (212).
Off the field, Guterding is committed to promoting inclusivity and advocating for children with special needs, serving as co-president of Needs for Speed, a New York-based non-profit that helps kids with Down Syndrome and Autism.
We sat down with him to discuss life after Duke, his first season with the PLL, and why he feels compelled to use his platform to give back:
Going into this first season of the PLL, where was your head?
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I would ask myself, “Am I good enough to be one of the top six lefty attackmen?... Am I good enough to start?..."
I used to ask myself those same questions in college, but this league has put those thoughts back in my head because in the PLL, you need to be a top 18 attackman, defenseman, or midfielder to see significant playing time.
It’s tough, but those questions have made me work harder to erase any self-doubt.
Has it lived up to your expectations?
The PLL hasn’t just lived up to my expectations — it’s exceeded them. Whether it’s seeing hundreds of children wear your jersey or the epic size and energy of the venues, all of it has been mind-blowing.
Starting on a brand new team, was it difficult to develop an understanding of one another and build strong chemistry?
It definitely takes time to adjust to other players’ styles. It hasn’t been difficult, but that’s due to incredible leadership from guys like John Galloway, Jordan MacIntosh and Joel White. We improved every single game because of their coaching.
Interacting with the fans has been a big priority for you – any standout stories that you can share from fans this season?
It’s hard to pick because each city has been amazing. The amount of support from all over the world has been tremendous. Without the fans, this league would be nothing, so I want to give a special shout-out to everyone who has attended!
What areas of your game were a top priority for you to improve on this season? Why?
As a very competitive person, I get caught up in the moment and if something isn’t going our way, I want to make a play happen that might not be there. My coaches have pushed me to be more patient and make the plays that are in front of me.
Outside of the PLL, what's your life post-Duke looking like these days?
I got a job in Manhattan in digital sales at CBS Sports. Staying in the sports industry was very important to me because it’s made me who I am today.
How has the adjustment been?
Early on, the adjustment was very difficult because my time at Duke was incredibly special. I met some of my best friends there and worked alongside them every single day. I was living and breathing lacrosse. So, taking me out of that element was very hard, but it’s gotten better with time even though I still miss it every single day.
You’re co-president of the nonprofit Needs for Speed- what is the organization about?
One of my best friends is James Sullivan, a Harvard Lacrosse grad. About two years ago, he came to me with the idea of helping children with special needs.
We both have a passion for helping children with Down Syndrome and Autism. James thought up the idea of renting out a gym for an hour once a week where our kids could work out and play games, but most importantly, just have fun.
I’m so grateful for all the people who have made Needs for Speed come to life. There are too many to list…all the parents and volunteers…but gotta give a special shout-out to Donny Brady who owns the gym we use!
What inspired you to say yes and be a part of building this initiative?
When I was in 9th grade, I volunteered at my local church for the Respite program, where we would be paired with a buddy who had special needs. We would read books, watch movies and play basketball.
Back then, I met a boy named Brendan Ryan. He’s like the brother I never had...he changed my life. We’re super close. In fact, Brendan’s been attending my games since high school, but this year, I was able to give him a tour and get him on the field during a PLL game!
How do you hope to continue to grow the organization?
We want the organization to spread to more cities, but with both of our jobs in Manhattan right now, we’re staying where we are on Long Island. We're always willing to welcome new members and volunteers!
There’s been a lot of talk lately about inclusion in sports. Lacrosse has struggled with this. What’s your vision for lacrosse and inclusion ten years from now?
Inclusion has been a real problem in lacrosse, with constant stories that really make you question the world we live in.
My vision for lacrosse looks like having stars of all different backgrounds so young fans can see themselves in the players on the field. Guys like Kyle Harrison, Trevor Baptiste, Lyle Thompson, and Myles Jones have done a fantastic job as role models, but we need to continue to engage and inspire a wider range of fans. And that also includes individuals with special needs who have historically been left out of team sports.
Want to charge the field like Gutty himself? Pick up Justin’s weapon of choice, the Stallion 700.