Karl Denson Tiny Universe guitarist D.J. Williams and his band, Shots Fired, are on the front lines of SoCal’s new-era funk scene. An entire music community has materialized around the band’s residency shows, no two of which are the exact same, thanks to an impressive rotating roster that features some of the biggest names in today’s funk, rock, and jam scenes. Performing regularly for the past year almost exclusively in Los Angeles and San Diego, Williams has decided to take his band on field trips for a very limited number of quick strikes while they prepare to release their first album, Live From Over Where.For their Las Vegas debut, Williams has — for one night only — renamed his collective “Bowls Fired,” in recognition of the victims of the recent and horrific attack on the city by a lone gunman. The “Bowls Fired” moniker is also a double entendre that references the party’s host, Brooklyn Bowl Vegas, while giving a wink to the band’s cannabis activism. After being detained in the Middle East for 42 nights — in conditions that would make Amnesty International and the U.N. cringe — for possession of a vape pen, Williams was deported and immediately signed a sponsorship deal with Legion of Bloom, who handed out their top shelf “Monarch” vape pens during a recent LA residency.For this one-time-only engagement in Las Vegas, D.J. Williams’ Bowls Fired! will include Rashawn Ross (Dave Matthews Band), James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band), Andy Geib (Slightly Stoopid), Chris Stillwell (Greyboy Allstars), Todd Stoops (Electric Beethoven) and John Staten (Pimps of Joytime) performing a selection of future funk classics.
UPDATED: April 15, 2019 at 1:12 p.m.The pain was instant. The swelling followed soon after. Morgan Alexander had planted awkwardly during a 1-on-1 drill and fallen to the turf at Ensley Athletic Center. As she looked down, she noticed her knee cap was perpendicular to its normal placement. Tears flowed down her face.Kathleen Chaney, the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team’s associate athletic trainer, ran to Alexander’s side and threw a raincoat over her leg. With help from a few coaches, she got Alexander onto a cart and on her way to the hospital.“I was just trying to get her to stop being upset,” Chaney said. “The thing with Morgan, she swelled a lot, and she swelled really fast. That for me made it more severe.”Alexander, then a redshirt freshman, dislocated her kneecap and tore her ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus. A month later, she had surgery. A year later, she injured her knee again by re-tearing her meniscus, again at Ensley. That was followed by another surgery and another missed season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the fall of her senior year, she got hurt again. Both her medial and lateral menisci were torn and needed to be surgically repaired, leaving the attacker to make a decision: stop playing lacrosse for good, or try one last time to get back on the field.“It’s weird,” Alexander said, “I don’t really remember my life before all of this.”Now, more than two years since her first injury, Alexander is finally on the field for No. 3 Syracuse (13-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast). She’s played in all but one game, and has scored 17 goals and recorded two assists. Alexander never gave up the hope that she’d one day make it back onto the field, even though she had a few low points.Alexander admits that she never feels the same as she did before her injuries. She knows that she probably never will. Every day before practice she does two hours of treatment followed by one hour afterward. Every time she plays, her knee swells so much that it’s “disgusting.”“If I’m gonna tear something, I’m gonna. That’s the way it is, clearly,” Alexander said. “I’m not gonna sit here and worry about it … Fearless is the No. 1 key term for me as a player. Because that’s the number one thing people ask me is ‘how do you get out there and not be scared?’ And I’m not.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorAlexander dominated high school competition, tallying 274 goals and 81 assists during her career at South Jefferson High School, before redshirting her freshman year at Syracuse.But four days before her sophomore season, she blew out her knee. Alexander had it repaired at the Hospital for Special Surgery, where extra bone fragments were added to her kneecap, which she now calls her “fake kneecap.” Just days after her surgery, Alexander played wall ball, a move that earned her criticism from Chaney and assistant coach Caitlin Defliese.Some days, Alexander’s pain and frustration got the best of her. She was unable to perform routine acts like putting her socks on without the assistance of Morgan Widner, her teammate. Alexander, normally reserved when dealing with her rehab, only cried when she was alone with Widner, Widner said.There were times that Alexander wanted to quit. Alexander’s older sister, Madesyn, adopted Charlotte, a Labrador retriever and she served as a mock-therapy dog while Alexander recovered. Emily Resnick, a redshirt junior midfielder, helped her through the more difficult times. Resnick helped Alexander maintain her focus during times that she wanted to give up and took on a stricter approach with her than Widner.“Her work ethic honestly keeps me going when I’m like ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to do this,’” Resnick said. “Here’s a girl who’s had three knee surgeries, still loves the game just as much.”Alexander was cleared entering the following season and played during Syracuse’s training camp in Florida, but when the Orange returned north, Alexander got hurt again. On Jan. 28, 2018, nearly a year after her first injury, she felt a pop.When an MRI was performed on her knee, all the past damage and repairs caused the reading to be inconclusive. Alexander had torn her meniscus again, but could try to play through it. If she couldn’t, she’d have to get surgery again.“So, I tried to play,” Alexander said. “I couldn’t run. I was like, ‘Well, that makes it easy.’”She had surgery two weeks later and was again out for the season. Her first injury was catastrophic. Her second wasn’t as serious, but it impacted Alexander more. Feeling down, she went home to Adams as often as she could.At least once a week, Alexander said, she called her mom crying. She couldn’t do it anymore. Traveling with the team to road games made it even more difficult because her sense of helplessness was exacerbated.This fall, Alexander suffered another setback. There was no specific moment of injury this time, but her meniscus was injured and so swollen that it prevented her from walking. She tried a cortisone injection, but it failed. Dr. John Cannizzaro, the team’s physician, told her she should stop playing and in late September performed surgery to remove a portion of Alexander’s fat pad and prevent friction on her ACL.“It was basically an ultimatum,” Alexander said. “I was told, if it swells, if it looks bad, you’re done forever. You’re medically disqualified. That’s the bottom line. I remember driving with my dad, like ‘I don’t ever want to stop playing lacrosse, I haven’t gotten a chance.’”By that time, Alexander was used to rehab. Some days when she’d come into the training room, Alexander told Chaney that she already knew what she had to do that day. Each time, Chaney ultimately assured Alexander that, as the certified athletic trainer, she should be the one deciding what to do.Alexander’s final breakthrough came when she was able to do squats and lunges without pain, something she was unable to do following her first two surgeries. At that point, the two knew that Alexander would finally be able to get back onto the field.“Each one of the roadblocks we’ve hit, we’ve had to readjust,” Chaney said. “Some days she was down and didn’t want to do anything, and some days she’d come in and be full-bore and happy … it was harder after each surgery, but she’s a tough cookie, she got back out there and just kept pressing.”Ally Walsh | Staff PhotographerLeading up to Syracuse’s first game of the season against Connecticut, Alexander received dozens of good luck texts. One from former teammate Taylor Gait, who also had several surgeries during her career, told Alexander how proud Gait was of her. Another, from her high school coach, praised her for her perseverance. Both made Alexander cry.Her younger sister Mackenzie was worried that Alexander would drop the first pass she received. But she notched her first assist and then the first goal of her Syracuse career came in the second half, when she split a double team and finished through the goalkeeper’s legs.At one point during the game she looked up at Mike, who gave her a thumbs up — the gesture he used while Alexander was younger to signify she was playing well. Her mom, sitting next to him, was crying.“It felt like high school, because in high school, that’s what I did,” Alexander said. “The first goal was like, ‘Oh, OK, I can do this.’”She finished with three goals, the last of which coming off an assist by Resnick, who called it her favorite moment ever playing lacrosse. Alexander was given player of the game honors by her teammates, who also called for her to give a speech. Her postgame was mostly filled with tears of relief, both by Alexander and her teammates.Eventually, she made a point to head over to Cannizzaro and tell him “I told you so.” Cannizzaro gave her a high five and shook his head.“I don’t know how you do it kid,” he said.In the first game of the 2018 season, Widner tore her ACL. When she was brought to the training room, Alexander went with her. As the ACL test was performed, Alexander already knew the diagnosis.Throughout Widner’s recovery, she faced similar doubts as Alexander had in the early days of her injury. One day, Widner broke down in the training room after a handful of girls on the team tried to cheer her up. “You got this!” they said, but that only caused her to break down. Alexander quickly came to her side. She told the teammates to go away, turned to her fallen teammate and, speaking from experience, told her to “grip the towel and suck it up.”Through her own struggles, Alexander learned dwelling on the past wasn’t worth it. Widner was broken down, and doesn’t know if she could have fared without Alexander’s experienced advice. Alexander didn’t want her teammate to face it alone. In the training room after the injury, Alexander grabbed Widner’s hand and looked her in the eyes.“There are days that you’re just gonna want to quit,” Alexander told Widner. “But I will not let you.”CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this post, the reason Morgan Alexander was on the sidelines was unclear in a graphic. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 15, 2019 at 12:15 am Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34