ITHACA, NY -- Some people hear the word “summer,” and they envision a well-deserved slow-down. Floating in a pool, pulling a cold beverage out of a cooler and settling into a chaise lounge...
John Nicholas also envisions a cooler, a pool and settling in...He wonders if his cooler will have enough water and Gatorade to last through a lacrosse tournament. He hopes his hotel will have a pool, and he hopes the seat in his vehicle will be comfortable when he settles in for yet another trip to Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Auburn, Lake Placid or Maryland.
Many travel team parents are accustomed to packing up and hitting the road on summer weekends, and if a parent is fortunate, he or she will have one kid playing on one team. It's a bit more complicated when there are two kids playing on the same team – you double the food, equipment and attitude. But when a family has two kids playing for two different teams in two distant geographic locations, well... summer can be not hazy and lazy, but crazy.
Nicholas has two teenagers who have lived and breathed lacrosse since they were very young, and I heard a mixture of sadness and relief when he told me, “Dominic's travel schedule is really picking up, but Alecia's is winding down.”
Let us clarify... Alecia's travel schedule will not actually wind down over the next four years. Rather it will involve different modes of transportation, as the 2021 Ithaca High graduate will take her game south as a member of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. In choosing UNC (over Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn and Brown), Alecia will be, her dad said, “realizing a childhood dream.”
Already having paid her dues, so to speak, Alecia will play a limited number of tournaments this summer as a member of the Syracuse-based Salt City Snipers. She has played for that organization for the past five years or so (and was the Little Red's goalie since eighth grade), and she will also meet up with some future college teammates that live in New York State to get in some additional games.
Dominic — a rising junior at Ithaca High — still has a few hills to climb if he wants to land a spot on a collegiate roster. He is playing for 3d Lacrosse — a training and development organization out of Rochester — and will be trying out for numerous elite tournament teams this summer.
As is the case in many travel teams across numerous sports (hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball), some tournaments are set up as “showcase” tournaments. These events are designed to — big surprise — showcase players' particular skill sets and college coaches looking to fill particular program needs find them fertile ground for doing so.
This summer, Dominic will be playing at Onondaga Community College, in Auburn, Lake Placid and will make at least three trips to Maryland. He will be trying out for the Under Armour team and for the New York State Regional Lacrosse Tournament team (formerly the Empire State Games). His dad said, “This is a big year for Dominic. He knows there are a lot of good lacrosse players in New York state, and this is what he will need to do if he wants to play in college.”
Dominic is a defenseman and a long-stick midfielder, and given his sister is a goalie I asked John if Dominic and Alecia worked out any sibling tensions by having him fire a few thousand shots at her. “No,” John replied, “she works out with (former Little Red teammates) Mackenzie Rich, Jamie Lasda and Shea Baker. Jamie plays at Ohio State and Shea is going to Boston College, and they just won the national championship, so Alecia is not hurting for shots!” Mackenzie, he added, will also be a Tar Heel.
John is gearing up to take in as many Tar Heels games as possible, and he is optimistic that he and his ex-wife will continue to team up to give their kids the opportunity to chase their dreams. It has been a juggling act, given that Alecia has had lacrosse overlap with soccer and Dominic has experienced the same challenge with lacrosse and football. But as all sports parents know, we will surely miss it when it's over.