(Bloomberg) -- This summer, countless bankers and financiers will get away to the Hamptons or vacation in Europe. And a handful will be traveling nearly every weekend — to play lacrosse.

Jake Carraway, a 26-year-old investment banking associate at Barclays Plc, is one of many players in the Premier Lacrosse League who will spend the next few months balancing life as a pro athlete with a full-time career in finance. Carraway, who started on Wall Street in 2021 after playing lacrosse as a student at Georgetown University, is a midfielder for the upstart league’s Philadelphia Waterdogs. 

“I haven’t taken a real vacation since I started working,’’ said Carraway. 

After many players spent a week juggling practices and workouts with calls and virtual meetings, the Waterdogs took on the Utah Archers in this year’s June 1 season opener, a rematch of last year’s championship. The game was one of four weekend matchups at the University at Albany’s Tom & Mary Casey Stadium that drew thousands of fans.

Despite scoring seven consecutive second-half goals, the Waterdogs lost, 12-11. 

Lacrosse’s ties to Wall Street run deep. The sport’s popularity at elite high schools created a pipeline to prestigious colleges and universities where players forge connections with influential alumni and eventually trade in their pads and sticks for suits and spreadsheets.

Much like Wall Street, lacrosse in the US has also often been associated with affluent, White communities. However, a range of organizations have been working to increase diversity and make lacrosse more accessible outside its usual enclaves.

One Waterdogs player, Ryan Conrad, is a New York board member with Harlem Lacrosse, which uses the game to help kids at risk of dropping out of school continue their education. Goals for Greatness, run by one of PLL’s founders, also seeks to increase access to lacrosse.

While earlier generations of banker-athletes extended their lacrosse careers by playing in obscure leagues for little pay in their spare time, the PLL, flush with investor cash and a streaming TV deal, has offered players unprecedented money and visibility.

“I’ve always really wanted to play pro,” said Conrad, a 27-year-old associate on the KKR & Co. capital markets team who plays in the Philadelphia midfield with Carraway. “If you’re a competitor, you want to get to the top of that mountain.’’

Still, Carraway, Conrad and many other pro lacrosse players are squeezing their training and games into grueling work schedules. Junior-level finance workers can log 80-hour weeks, including Sundays spent online. The PLL plays on the weekend in 10 cities from June to mid-August, with playoffs that run past Labor Day.

“It’s chaotic,” said Carraway. “We’re in a different city every weekend through September.”

Dozens of PLL players reported to the University at Albany, about 150 miles north of Wall Street, for training camp before this season began. They squeezed bowling and team dinners in between two-a-day practices and scrimmages — while staying in touch with the office. 

“There were definitely some early-morning calls and some late-night calls,” said Conrad, “but in general it was a great week.”

During the season, players who work traditional finance jobs often fly to that weekend’s host city on Thursday. Sam Handley, an investment banking analyst at Imperial Capital LLC in Los Angeles and Denver Outlaws midfielder, said players then work on Friday from their hotels, “try to take a nap at lunch, practice in the evening, play Saturday” and fly home Sunday.

Technology and shifting workplace norms have made simultaneous careers in finance and sports more manageable. Before Covid-19 popularized remote work, most banking and finance jobs were in the office five days a week — at a minimum. Changing attitudes toward work-life balance have helped players keep up their early-morning workouts and manage weekends away.

Decades ago, when Kevin Lowe was playing lacrosse while climbing the ladder at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, employers weren’t as inclined to compromise. Lowe, a two-time NCAA national champion at Princeton and member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, spent nearly a decade playing professionally while working on Wall Street.

“Being the young person back in the day was a little bit harder than being the young person now,’’ said Lowe, now at Citigroup Inc. “The hard part was staying in shape during the week. If you were asked to go out with clients you went out. If you had to stay late to work, you stayed.”

The current eight-team PLL, which launched in 2018 and merged with rival Major League Lacrosse in 2020, is the brainchild of brothers Paul and Mike Rabil. Paul, a Johns Hopkins alumni, used social media to become lacrosse’s most visible player. Mike, a former football captain at Dartmouth College, is the PLL’s chief executive officer. 

When Paul joined Major League Lacrosse in 2008, he said he was among just three players who were full-time athletes, and that the average wage for a season was just $8,000.

“We’ve quadrupled that and we continue to provide new and unique opportunities to not only full-time lacrosse players but team sport athletes across the board,” he said in an interview. “They get year-round health care, they get stock options in the league, and the overarching comp package has driven the number of full-time lacrosse players above 50%.”

Rabil, who retired in 2021, called players in the league who are balancing a full-time Wall Street job “extraordinary.” However, he said juggling two careers could limit players’ longevity, and he would like player salaries to eventually reach the million-dollar mark.

“As our audience grows, our revenues grow and we want to invest those revenues back into our players,” Rabil said.

The PLL clinched a four-year deal in 2022 reportedly worth eight figures to broadcast games on Disney networks including ABC, ESPN and ESPN+, and launched a collectibles line for memorabilia, merchandise and trading cards. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and basketball star Kevin Durant’s venture fund have invested in the league, joining backers including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Joe Tsai, Chernin Group and Raine Group. 

The culture around professional lacrosse and opportunities outside the sport has “changed and it hasn’t changed,” according to Hall of Fame coach Dom Starsia, a four-time national champion at the University of Virginia. 

“Clearly some guys can make a living playing lacrosse,” Starsia said. “You can make enough to live well. But at the same time, it’s a short career.”

To help players moving into the working world, Starsia helped develop an alumni network at Virginia that keeps a database of former players in fields like finance, technology and real estate. The idea has been emulated at schools like Georgetown.

Many players said that they count on support from understanding bosses, friends and significant others as they travel and keep in shape with early-morning workouts.  

Conrad said his team at KKR allows flexibility on Fridays during the season, and his fiancee, Sky, is “extremely supportive,’’ taking care of their three-year-old golden retriever when he’s on the road. Not all of Conrad’s peers have been as lucky, he said: Some friends were told by their employers that they had to choose between lacrosse and finance. 

“The fact that KKR lets me do this, and this is top-down at the firm being extremely supportive of me doing this, I can't be any more thankful for them,’’ he said.

Other players who have attempted the balancing act chose to leave finance behind. Mark Glicini, a defensive midfielder for the Carolina Chaos, left Wall Street in 2018. Now in his ninth year of pro lacrosse, he thinks the game’s increasing salaries and better health benefits will encourage others to follow him.

In the meantime, for the players willing to straddle both worlds, glory on the field quickly gives way to the realities of working life. When Jared Conners and the Utah Archers beat the Waterdogs 15-14 for last year’s league title, there was barely time to savor it. After celebrating on Sunday night, Conners, a securitized products sales assistant vice president at Barclays, caught a 6 a.m. flight on Monday. He was back at his desk by 8. 

“That season comes to an end,” he said, “and it’s back to the grind just like any other week.’’

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