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Then and Now: US Lacrosse Showcases America's Top Talent
Three-time US Lacrosse All-American Nick Galasso helped Team Spirit win the 2010 Champion High School Showcase championship.
© Peyton Williams (UNC); © Scott McCall (HSS)
John Lade was a two-time US Lacrosse high school All-American, later a member of the U.S. Under-19 team and a sought-after college recruit. But in 2007 when the future Syracuse defenseman and Major League Lacrosse draft pick played in the US Lacrosse all-star event now called the Champion All-American Showcase, Lade was not quite the headliner that, say, North Carolina's Nick Galasso or Northwestern's Kara Mupo were last summer, when those top-ranked incoming freshmen played in the event.
Coming from Randolph High School in New Jersey, a public school less-regarded as a lacrosse power than some prominent New Jersey private schools, Lade was an undersized, but effective 5-foot-11, 180-pound close defenseman who committed as a senior to play lacrosse at Villanova. He transferred to Syracuse after a first-team all-conference freshman season, citing financial concerns of paying for school at Villanova, he said.
At the time in 2007, Lade said it was special to play at the then-US Lacrosse National Senior Showcase in Denver, on an East all-star team with fellow New Jersey product Jack McBride, who was headed to Princeton by way of private school Delbarton (N.J.), and Kyle Wharton, headed to Johns Hopkins from the Haverford School (Pa.). Notre Dame-bound midfielder Zach Brenneman from East Hampton on Long Island also was on the team. They were coached by Jim Davidson, the coach of Summit (N.J.), a team that began this spring season on a 45-game win streak and as the two-time defending state champion.
"The experience was great," Lade said. "That was my first time out to the West Coast, so it gave me a great opportunity to see other parts of the country that I normally wouldn't see. And just to play with the players I did, there were a lot of great players on my team that are some of the best players in lacrosse today.
"It was good to play against and with some of the best talent in the country. It really made me feel that I could hang with some of the best players in the country."
That East team won the tournament. Lade was named the team's most valuable player. Unbeknownst to Lade, future Syracuse teammate John Galloway, the goaltender from West Genesee (N.Y.), was one of the goalies for the North squad. Galloway, also named MVP of his team, didn't know Lade or a lot of players in the four-team, 82-player tournament.
"It was cool to see guys from California and Oregon and Michigan," said Galloway, who stayed close to home in Central New York when choosing to play at Syracuse and who was drafted in January by the local MLL team, the Rochester Rattlers. "I really valued the experience. It was a broader view of lacrosse as a whole."
"It was different types of lacrosse," Galloway said. "We learned a lot about fundamentals and over-the-hand things here upstate. But there were a lot of different athletes who just want to go to the cage. Some very creative, very unorthodox lacrosse players that had just a different style. It's fun to be able to see that in the couple days I was out there, and see how other kids work on the field."
The Champion All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event held July 17-22 as part of the ESPN Rise Games, was last year known as the Champion High School Showcase. The event traces its roots to the national boys and girls high school all-star games that were held in conjunction with the US Lacrosse Youth Festivals each year.
Those games featured some of the game's brightest stars, including future U.S. team standouts Mikey Powell and Acacia Walker. Powell is the former Syracuse star and Walker, from Maryland, and is now an assistant coach at Boston College.
In 2004, the US Lacrosse National Senior Showcase began as a stand-alone event for the nation's top high school boys players, while the girls' all-star games were folded into the US Lacrosse Women's Division National Tournament. The NSS was held in St. Louis from 2004 to 2006, moved to Denver in 2007, Chicago in 2008, and Providence, R.I., in 2009. Last year, the girls' event was added to the boys' and the event was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Some of the game's most talented high school players and US Lacrosse All-Americans have played.
Showcase Returns to ESPN Rise Games
The Champion All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse vent, returns to the ESPN Rise Games this summer and will feature the nation's elite high school players representing all areas of the country. The girls' showcase will include 80 players and will be held July 17-19 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The boys' showcase will feature 96 players.
Nick Galasso, a three-time US Lacrosse All-American and current North Carolina attackman considered the top-recruit in his class since freshman year at West Islip (N.Y.), was one of them last year. He helped Team Spirit, which included players from all parts of the country, to the 2010 championship, scoring three goals and two assists in the final. Galasso finished high school with a Long Island-record 500 career points and won four state titles at West Islip. This spring he broke the North Carolina freshman record for points in season (45 by John Webster in 1990) on April 17, with a regular season game and the ACC tournament still to play.
"It was fun," said Galasso, who traveled to Florida with his dad and stepmom. "There were only a few kids from where I used to play in high school. There were kids that I had never seen or played with. And I had never been to Disney. It was a fun to go there and play in a good tournament, and also good to meet new people."
Kara Mupo, a starting attacker as a freshman at Northwestern this spring, also participated last year. The three-time US Lacrosse All-American from Rocky Point (N.Y.) was one of the top women's recruits in the high school class of 2010. At Northwestern this season, she had 16 goals and two assists through 14 games.
At the showcase, Mupo's team lost in the consolation final. Georgetown-bound Kelyn Freedman, the all-time leading scorer in Radnor (Pa.) girls' lacrosse history (she averaged nearly 4.6 points per game in high school), led her team of all-stars from around the country to the championship.
"Everyone was really competitive and there was a lot of talent, with four teams," Mupo said. "It was the best of the best."
"It's always fun to have that competition at such a high level," Galloway said. "To be able to have a chance to play with some of those guys, especially at that age, was such an honor. It's one of those things that you cherish as you look back on it."
Sometimes, you may even run into a future teammate you don't even know about.
"I didn't know any of those kids that I play with now at
Syracuse," Lade said. "I didn't really know anybody out there. I
was just winging it."
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