Syracuse Area High Schools are a Lacrosse Hotbed for CNY Colleges
When high school lacrosse players from the Central New York region first think of their dream college programs, they imagine schools like John Hopkins, Syracuse and Maryland. These lacrosse programs have the prestige and NCAA Division One opportunities most want. Although more Division One players come through Central New York then most other regions, many athletes opt for programs at Division Two and Three schools in the area. For most kids, finding the right school overall is more important than the ranking of the lacrosse program.
Lacrosse is one of the most popular sports in the Syracuse region, a hotbed recognized throughout the recruiting world. The popularity of the sport has led to a growing number of Syracuse athletes who go on to play lacrosse at various local and national collegiate levels. According to a recent Inside Lacrosse study, there were 138 players who played NCAA Division One from the Upstate/Central New York Region in 2013, or, in other words, 5% of all Division One lacrosse players. Only Long Island, New Jersey, D.C. and Massachusetts provided more players.
Chris Kenneally has been a lacrosse coach at Fayetteville-Manlius for over 30 years, the past 17 as head coach. When his players are choosing a college, he emphasizes the importance of the overall fit over the prominence of the lacrosse program.
“Most of our players go to the schools for the academics, but I always tell them that if you’re going to play a sport that’s great, but if the sport does not work out, you get injured, the coach and you do not get along, the coach leaves, you want to make sure that is the right place,” Kenneally said.
Ric Beardsley, an All American and National Champion at Syracuse University, is the lacrosse coach at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. He also stresses how important academics are to him and the school.
“A kid that can go to Syracuse and has a high 90s and a 34 ACT, if he can play at Syracuse, he is trying to go to Cornell, or he is trying to go to Tufts. If he wants business he is trying to go to Bentley or Baskin, Division Two or Three, top 10 business programs.”
With one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country so geographically close, Central New York colleges benefit from kids wanting to stay in the area. This provides recruiting opportunities for lacrosse programs in the New York area in schools, such as Le Moyne, Onondaga Community College, Cortland, Ithaca and Brockport.
Most kids tend to stay within a three hour driving distance when picking a college, according to Kenneally. State schools like Cortland, Geneseo and Brockport benefit from the close location of home and the relatively low cost of tuition for students in the CNY region.
One of the biggest advantages of being a lacrosse player from the Syracuse area is the connection and affiliation college coaches have with the region.
Syracuse head coach John Desko and assistant coach Kevin Donahue are former teammates and West Genesee alumni. They have brought in 11 players from West Genesee since 2006.
“The [college] coaches are usually people that are there for a long term. A lot of times their fellas as I think about it have Central New York roots. Steve Bevel is a West Genesee guy down at Cortland. The Brockport coach is an Auburn kid. The fellow up at Potsdam is a Watertown person,” Kenneally said.
The 2017 lacrosse season is set to start in March.