Charlie Farmer: Captain, entrepeneur, winner

GVL / Emily Frye 
Charlie Farmer

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Charlie Farmer

Mark Washburn

When you see him before lacrosse practice tossing a ball around with his teammates, there’s a smile on his face. This isn’t your everyday smile; this is your ‘I am having the greatest time of my life’ smile, and it’s contagious. This isn’t your everyday lacrosse player. 

He is always having fun. He is Charlie Farmer.

Farmer is a stud, to put it eloquently, on the lacrosse field. The senior midfielder who hails from Forest Hills Eastern High School puts up excellent numbers and changes the state of play for the Grand Valley State men’s club lacrosse team. Last year, Farmer netted 23 goals and 15 assists. 

Not only is he a contributor statistically, but he changes the atmosphere of the team. 

GVSU coach Tim Murray has seen that from Farmer day in and day out.

“He is a very versatile, very talented, offensive player and that is the tip of the iceberg for who he is as a player,” Murray said. “It’s not just performance on the scoreboard, but also the dynamic he brings to the team. He doesn’t forget to have fun, and it rubs off on teammates and the coaching staff.”

His versatility helps define him as a lacrosse player. Farmer was a faceoff man during his first year at GVSU. He also played some longstick defense. He can play all over the field.

“He is the best all-around player I have ever coached,” said Murray, who knows a thing or two about coaching great players, like Major League Lacrosse player Cam Holding. 

Teammate and friend Seth Kuehnl also put Farmer’s abilities into perspective.

“He can do it all on any side of the field. His scoring is great, he’s quite surprising and exciting to watch,” Kuehnl said. “He knows the sport, and is the most comfortable and smartest player on the field.”

A stud on the lacrosse field. He is Charlie Farmer.

Individual plaudits have also found their way into his hands.

His most notable achievement to date is the fact that he won the Heisman Trophy of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA): the Godekeraw Award. Of course when he won the award, it came as somewhat of a shock to Farmer.

“We were in California for the tournament, and we had a dinner in Huntington Beach (hosted by the MCLA). I didn’t know they were going to do the announcement, so I went to the bathroom,” said Farmer. “When I came back I was caught off guard because they told me I had won.”

What was his reaction to winning the most prestigious award in club lacrosse?

“It was humbling, it really was,” he said. “It made me realize how valuable all of my teammates, mentors and coaches have been my entire life.”

But Murray has never heard Farmer actually talk about winning the award. One time, Murray asked Farmer what he did with the Godekeraw.

“He gave the plaque to his mom and he’s not sure what she did with it,” he said.

For Farmer, it’s not the individual accolades that he cares about, it’s his teammates, and that will never show up on the box score.

A humble man. He is Charlie Farmer.

Farmer is not a slow-paced guy. He enjoys the speed of life and the speed of games, which explains why he made the switch from baseball to lacrosse in the seventh grade. Not only was the style of lacrosse appealing to Farmer, but the fact that his brother, Tyler, played was the main factor. Charlie quickly fell in love with the sport.

From there he went on to play for the Forest Hills Northern/Eastern combined lacrosse team in high school, leading the team to the pinnacle of Michigan high school lacrosse: the state championship game. The team lost to powerhouse Birmingham Brother Rice, but that didn’t hamper Farmer. He was still happy to have played with the fellas on that squad.

After high school, Farmer enrolled at High Point University in North Carolina. He was in contact with the head coach after being seen at summer camps and tournaments. The High Point plan didn’t reach such lofty expectations as Farmer had hoped, however, as the love he once had for the game turned to burnout. The Division 1 athletic duties took their toll, so he decided to come back home and play at GVSU. A perk to that was playing with his brother.

During Charlie’s first season in Allendale, GVSU trailed Grove City by one goal with nine seconds remaining. Farmer won a faceoff, raced down the field and scored the game-tying goal with .5 seconds left on the clock. Then, at the beginning of overtime, Farmer won a faceoff, raced down the field and dished the ball to Tyler Farmer, who netted the game-winning goal.

He is a winner. He is Charlie Farmer.

At GVSU, the love of lacrosse came back to Charlie, and the joy it brings him resonates. Speaking of joy, Farmer helped lead the Lakers win the MCLA National Championship last year. In that game, Farmer accounted for two goals.

“You think about one thing all day every day of the year at every practice — then winning the championship is the most surreal feeling,” he said. “It is just a very, very weird feeling to finally have it, to have it actually pay off.”

The national championship capped quite a week for Farmer there in May of 2014. On the 12th, he turned 21. On the 14th, he won the Godekeraw Award. On the 17th, the Lakers won the MCLA title.

Farmer is more than just a standout lacrosse player; he is also quite a guy. His kindness can be seen with how he approaches Patrick Cain, son of assistant coach Pat Cain. When Patrick shows up to practice, Farmer shows his care for Patrick by simply going up to him and shaking his hand or ruffling his hair and just talking with Patrick. For a star player to do that would make any fan’s day.

He is a nice guy. He is Charlie Farmer.

A marketing major, Farmer has already begun to make his own wave outside of the lacrosse field. He created his own business, Eight Bridges Hat Co., named after the eight bridges of Grand Rapids. This gave his creativity and entrepreneurship skills a chance to shine. The business is already successful, and is something Farmer has always wanted to do.

“I’ve always wanted to own a company, and I felt like I was spinning wheels. I’m also a visual learner, so I knew that if worst comes to worst, I learn what I can and apply the business to other things,” Farmer said.

A great part of the club lacrosse rules and regulations is that he is allowed to run his own business. 

Creativity is what really sets him apart from others. His mind is constantly running through ideas, and he never stops that process.

“With his creativity — you can’t really put it in words,” Kuehnl said. “He is unorthodox to what you would see in most places…he’s just different.”

His creativity can also be seen on the field. For Farmer, the transition game is his favorite element.

“The transition gives you the freedom to do what you want with the ball, and that permeates throughout,” he said. “A major value to me is the creative process in life which involves making something, making a craft and building something to release to the world.”

He is creative. He is Charlie Farmer.

All around Farmer just seems to be pretty good at everything. And some people notice this the first time they ever lay eyes on him.

“First time I saw him I knew he was going to be a key player,” said Kuehnl. “Anywhere you go, you’re going to hear the good things about Charlie Farmer.”

Apparently when the players were shoveling snow before the Saginaw Valley State game earlier this season, the team noticed that Farmer was, in fact, the best snow shoveler on the team.

“Everything he does he just does it on a high level. You notice things about him,” Murray said.

For Charlie Farmer, the lacrosse field is his haven. This is the place where he can be free.

“When I get to practice and games, I can turn my brain off and play,” Farmer said. “When you aren’t thinking and look down the sideline and see those guys, you are just having fun. This is probably my last year of competitive lacrosse I’ll every play, and there’s not a better group of guys in the nation.

“It’s been an insane time playing with them, my friends. It has been fun.”

He plays lacrosse, runs his own business, shows creativity and acts out his kindness. He is happy and has fun in the most unorthodox way. Nothing seems to stop his flow of happiness, and that’s what makes him roll. He is Charlie Farmer, plowing the fields of life, having fun every step of the way.

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