As part of Lacrosse Magazine's in-depth look at the nation's top two producers of college-ready lacrosse talent -- Boys' Latin (Md.) boys and St. Stephen's and St. Agnes (Va.) girls -- we asked two prominent alumni to reflect on their high school lacrosse experiences there. This article appears as part of that package in the April issue of LM.
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Alex Smith: The Boys' Latin Years
as told to Matt DaSilva
|"He looked at me and said, 'Smitty, your stick skills
aren't that good, and you're not big enough or fast enough to start
here. But I think you've got a knack for facing off, and I think
you should go with it.' That's why he's the best coach in high
-- Alex Smith on Bob Shriver
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
I came to BL as a transfer from McDonogh (Md.). One of the reasons I wanted to go to BL was that lacrosse prestige. I'm a fourth-generation Laker. My family's been there for almost 100 years.
I decided to try out for varsity my freshman year. After two days they cut all of us. Shriver came to me and said, "Here's what you need to work out." It was like a hundred pages long.
So I went down to JV with Drew Haugh. What can I say about Coach Haugh? He is the best motivator around. He would give out a game stick after every game to the best player. But it would just be a stick he picked up off the ground, a twig. "Here's your game stick," he would say. "It's the only stick like its kind in the universe." It was cheesy, but by the end of the year I had 15 sticks in my locker. So did Bobby Griebe.
Coach Haugh called the team the Foamers, because foam rises to the top. We didn't even have "Lakers" on our jersey. We had "Foamers." When we played Gilman, we would walk there. We'd go to Gilman, beat the hell out of them, and then we'd run back. Gilman parents couldn't get over it. Psychologically, Haugh thought it was a huge advantage, if we could walk a mile up a hill, beat them and then run back.
We went 19-0 and won the JV championship by a goal in the finals.
I started on the varsity as a faceoff guy the following year. The main thing I felt right away was family. Any one of those guys would have done anything for me. I have two brothers, but basically, I had 40 brothers. Coach Bob Shriver was definitely responsible for that.
Then there was Quint Kessenich, who knows more about lacrosse than anyone I've ever met. He's five steps ahead of anybody else. Having a guy like that in the program is invaluable.
Sophomore year we ended up losing to Severn at the buzzer in overtime of the MIAA semifinals.
Severn's coach, Jim Beardmore, rushed the field and started cursing, then we lost in OT, and Shriver went nuts.
My junior year we won the whole thing, the MIAA championship. We realized we had the best team in the country.
My senior year we had an all-star squad. I was going to Delaware, Adam Hagelin to Towson, Ryan Walterhoeffer to UNC, J.R. Stahl to Notre Dame, Tray Shaner to UNC, Pat Mahoney to Notre Dame. Below us there was Tad Stanwick, Chris Boland, Shane Walterhoeffer, Travis Reed and Brian Farrell - we probably had 15 to 20 future D-I kids on the team that year.
But playoffs came and I had a broken wrist, J.R. Stahl was out, Adam Hagelin was out, Ryan Walterhoeffer had a bad kidney. We lost to St. Mary's in the semis.
Coach Shriver was an incredible motivator. A lot of guys think of him as their greatest enemy, but at the end of the day, he gets the most potential out of each kid. He never went overboard, and he would see potential in everybody. He looked at me and said, "Smitty, your stick skills aren't that good, and you're not big enough or fast enough to start here. But I think you've got a knack for facing off, and I think you should go with it."
That's why he's the best coach in high school lacrosse.
Alex Smith graduated from Boys' Latin in 2003. He went on to become the NCAA's all-time leading faceoff specialist as a Division I All-American at Delaware and is currently a member of the MLL's Washington Bayhawks.
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