After playing competitive lacrosse non-stop, all year round, for the past 15 years… I am done. Since I was 7 years old, the sport of lacrosse was all I really knew. Picking up a stick as a little kid, to playing varsity in high school; traveling to different states to play kids from across the country during the summers to playing four years in college. Now that I have graduated, what do I do now?
I have been playing lacrosse since before I can even remember. My father had a lacrosse stick in my hands before I could walk. He started coaching me and a bunch of kids my age in our local PAL Youth Lacrosse League. This was where I met the kids who would become my best friends, the kids who I would play lacrosse with. Seasons passed and years went by as we played together in middle school, travel lacrosse and high school varsity.
My dad coached me and my friends up until the time I was thirteen. He then coached my travel lacrosse teams during the fall, winter, and summer but left the regular season during the spring to the school coaches. He trained and worked out with my brother and I basically every day. From simply having a catch in the backyard to running sprints up the hill behind my elementary school, he always led the way.
Every high school player knows how difficult the college lacrosse recruiting process is in order to play at the next level. Summer tournaments in blistering 100°F heat while playing 4-5 games in a day for sometimes three days straight… just for the possibility that a college coach will see you play for a few minutes and hope that he catches a good play. The next weekend you are going to a recruiting tournament where you are placed on a random team with random kids from random towns, hoping that not everybody is a ball hog and that you get a fair amount of playing time, also in hopes that a college coach watches you make a nice play or two. Not every tournament is successful, but sometimes you do get lucky and receive a few emails from a coach who is showing a little interest.
The next step might be the most difficult of them all…finding the right school. Yes, you are looking to find the right team and the right coach, but you are also looking for the right education, the right size, the right social life, and the right environment. This combination of factors differs for everyone, and finding the perfect match can be almost impossible for some. I personally got lucky. I was recruited to play at Hartwick College in upstate New York. This was the first school I visited, did an overnight with the lacrosse team, absolutely loved it, and committed the next day. It was the only school I applied to and I could not wait to attend.
Playing lacrosse in college is a different game than playing in high school. Think of it this way… A college team is composed of the best players from every high school team across the nation, and in order to get recruited, the coaches must have seen something that they liked. Kids are bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled. Practices are more intense, fast paced, and require a much higher level of skill. Conditioning and lifting is what really tests your love for the game. Throughout my four years at Hartwick, we did some conditioning that 1) made me really want to never run again, 2) I never thought was even possible, but 3) definitely made me faster, stronger, and gave me the will to do anything I put my mind to.
Four years went by like the blink of an eye when I found myself playing in my last home game at Wright Stadium. My team finished the regular season with 10 wins and 5 losses, making the playoffs as the 3rd seed in the E8, losing to St. John Fisher. This was the best season the program has had since 2005 and I could not have been happier about how hard all of the guys worked. These guys were not just guys who I played lacrosse with for the past four years. They became my brothers. We went through some of the greatest times and some of the worst times together and they are a part of the memories I will never forget. Now that this incredible experience has ended, what do I do?
Instead of the question, “now what?” I think the better question to ask would be, “now how can I give back to the lacrosse community?” I would love to be able to make an impact in the lacrosse community like my dad did for me, my friends and my town. I am looking forward to volunteering my time to show young players where hard work and dedication can get you. Lacrosse has been such a huge part of my life, has taught me the most valuable lessons, and brought me the closest friends I could ever ask for. I cannot wait to pass that on to future generations of lacrosse players and perhaps one day, pass it on to my own children.