Commentary

Virginia goalie had own business

Updated: May 2, 2010, 12:56 PM ET
By Shane Mettlen | Special to Page 2

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- By the time Will Bolton graduates from Virginia this summer, he may well be a national champion. But even if the Cavaliers don't win college lacrosse's ultimate prize, Bolton has his keen business sense to fall back on.

Bolton, a backup goalie and urban and environmental planning major, had already opened, operated and sold his own small company before he ever set foot in the cage for the top-ranked Cavaliers. It was a cool venture. Or, more accurately, a cold one -- Bolton and a friend sold snow cones.

[+] EnlargeBolton
Shane Mettlen Will Bolton, now a goalie for Virginia, previously had a snow cone business.

As a high school senior -- around the same time he was earning all-region and team MVP honors at Charlottesville's Monticello High School, just a few miles from UVA's campus -- Bolton and a teammate opened a snow cone stand on the city's popular pedestrian hangout, the Downtown Mall.

With about $5,000 in capital earned from a high-school landscaping business, they set up shop down the street from the bar where the Dave Matthews Band got its start. Much like DMB in the early '90s, Bolton and Co. became a mainstay in downtown Charlottesville for three years.

"We wanted to start an ice cream truck business, but the startup cost was too high," Bolton said of the switch to snow cones. "We went through all the hurdles getting the permits and all that and bought all the stuff on e-Bay. We built our own cart and we set up pretty much everyday for three years in the summer and traveled around to festivals throughout the state."

Bolton attended walk-on tryouts his first year at Virginia, but didn't make the cut. After that he largely put lacrosse aside for three year and began to focus more on college life and his studies.

He and his partner sold the snow cone business, but as he prepared for his fourth year at UVA, some friends on the lacrosse team asked Bolton if he wished he could change anything about his college experience.

"The one regret I had was that I wished I had gone somewhere to play lacrosse," Bolton said. "It was something I really missed."

Steve Holmes, a former Virginia standout and Major League Lacrosse player, coached Bolton at Monticello and this season joined Dom Starsia's Virginia staff as a volunteer assistant. Knowing UVA was looking for a fourth goalie to fill out the roster, he suggested that Bolton to give it another shot.

"I give Will most of the credit for getting where he is," Holmes said of Bolton making the team. "He doesn't need my help for anything because so many people have his back. Will has my vote if he decided to run for mayor of Charlottesville and he'd probably have a decent shot because he knows everybody."

Though ACC Tournament MVP Adam Ghitelman has gotten the lion's share of the minutes in the cage for the Cavs, but Bolton has achieved his goal, getting into three games and making three saves.

The NCAA Tournament begins on May 15 and Virginia will enter as a favorite to win the school's fifth national title. Bolton the businessman can't help but think about the potential return on his investment in the Cavaliers program.

'It's been kind of surreal for me, being from Charlottesville," he said. "You really couldn't end a lacrosse career on a higher note than being on a team that wins a national championship."

Shane Mettlen, formerly of the Culpeper (Va.) Star-Exponent, is a freelance writer for Sports Media Exchange, a national freelance writing network.