SUDBURY – Jordan Dow wasn’t expecting to play in the game against the Mercer Island Islanders, who were visiting from Washington state, that cold spring day in 2011.
Dow was the short sophomore at the end of the bench. He had just made the varsity squad, having mostly played on the freshman team the year before. Then a senior got hurt.
“I remember being this little guy running around with these big boys,” Dow said. “And I was thinking, ‘how was I going to do this?’”
Dow’s introduction to varsity lacrosse at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School may have seemed abrupt that day. But in a way, Dow had been preparing for the moment nearly his entire childhood.
And like many L-S boys lacrosse players, his commitment to the sport would extend well beyond his four years as a Warrior.
“I think the one thing that I can say about this program is they are not only working to develop great lacrosse players, they are also working to develop great people,” Dow said.
Dow is now the co-captain of the lacrosse team at New York’s St. Lawrence University, where he is a senior. He is one of at least 27 L-S alumni who are currently playing on college lacrosse teams.
That includes John Sexton, a captain at Notre Dame, which is consistently ranked among the top 10 programs in the country. Sexton, L-S class of 2014, was named a First Team All-American earlier this year.
“The preparation that we get from L-S has been incredible,” said Jack Sutherland, a freshman on the Endicott College team. “The level of play up here is really top notch. It’s a lot quicker and stuff like that, but all the drills and the practicing, and the coaching staff at L-S, helped prepare me for it.”
The L-S boys lacrosse team has won the Division 1 state championship each of the past three years. But current and former players and coaches say the program is about more than winning titles and getting players signed by colleges.
“Making sure that our players are a positive part of the community, that’s our first goal,” said Brian Vona, who has been the head coach since 2000.
Most current players were introduced to the sport when they were in elementary school. Their coaches in the youth league, and at a popular summer camp, were high school players. Now, they are the coaches for the next generation.
“When I got into high school it was an awesome opportunity to give back to a camp that kind of taught me the game,” Dow said. “And I tried to fill the shoes of the guys that taught me when I was growing up and who made such an impact on me.”
Every year, graduating seniors write a letter to the ascending player who will wear their jersey number. The tradition builds connections between current and former players, Vona said. “It’s just another piece of community,” he said.
The players read their letters aloud in an annual ceremony. “I remember how nervous I was,” said Seamus Fagan, an L-S senior. The letter he received hangs in his room.
Fagan, a co-captain, will play at Hamilton College next year. Peter Rizzotti, another co-captain, committed to play at Dartmouth College the summer before his junior year. In total, eight seniors – around half of all seniors on the team – are already committed to colleges.
Guanci is an alumnus of the L-S program. After graduating in 2002, he played club lacrosse at Boston College. The L-S program teaches players to “commit to each other on a deeper level,” he said.
“When you do that, you stop playing for yourself so much, you stop playing selfishly … and you start becoming a better team player,” Guanci said. “And ultimately that’s what college coaches are looking for.”
Asked about his goals for next season, Vona said the team was looking forward to figuring out what its annual service project would be. Last year, the team raised money to send care packages to more than 100 American troops. The seniors always find a cause to support.
“We do something every year that’s meaningful, that’s way more meaningful than any of the wins,” Vona said. “Those are the ties that bind, not winning games.”
[Source: Metrowest Daily News]