Recent Marmion graduates Sam Ford and Tyler Estes meet sporadically during the summer to practice lacrosse shots.
In some ways, the ritual mirrors their first workouts as Cadets, with two major differences notwithstanding.
These days, both Ford and Estes know they share a hometown in Geneva. They’re also accomplished enough to be awarded NCAA scholarships. Ford (Division I Georgia Tech attackman) and Estes (Division III Regis College goalie) leave for separate schools next month, eager to show midwesterners can play lacrosse, too.
“The sport’s really been growing, and there’s a lot of talent coming out of this area, as well, which is phenomenal,” Ford said. “You hear a lot about colleges recruiting out of the East Coast, but there’s just as much talent here.”
Ford took a more conventional route to his collegiate career. Born in the lacrosse hotbed of Boston, he moved to Geneva with his family before first grade and quickly pursued youth club options in the sport.
Estes started playing once he entered Marmion, becoming a goalie in part thanks to the hijinks of a varsity player.
“I kind of was tricked into it, I always say,” Estes said. “I asked one of the older guys how it was to be a lacrosse goalie and he told my coach [Kevin Griffin] I wanted to play goalie. So next thing I know, I’m in goal. But I loved it and stuck with it.”
There’s no reason for either player to back out now. Ford and Estes became fast friends in high school after learning they had attended neighboring middle schools – Ford at Geneva North, and Estes at Geneva South.
With their club days behind them, the impromptu summer meetings have served as good get-togethers before Ford and Estes depart for Atlanta and Weston, Mass., respectively.
“It’s still definitely lots of conditioning,” Ford said. “I’m still working on my stick skills a lot, but I’m still looking forward to some time to actually play.”
Dream catcher: St. Charles East senior Adam Rojas gained quick notice as a top defensive catcher while helping the Saints finish third in Class 4A in his debut season this spring.
Not much has changed in the six-plus weeks since the Saints played at the state tournament in Joliet. Rojas also played a vital role in East’s run to the Phil Lawler Summer Classic state semifinals at Benedictine University this week.
“Great catcher. Great catcher, you know,” Saints junior right-hander Kyle Cook said. “He makes the big plays, he does everything necessary. He calls a great game. He’ll get that sneaky pickoff on you every game. A great catcher all-around.”
Classic coach: Writers write and readers read “Phil Lawler Summer Classic” quite a bit this time of year, with many in the dark about who Lawler was.
The answer: a former longtime Naperville Central assistant baseball coach who served as summer tournament director from 1984 until his 2010 death after a bout with cancer.
Lawler and then-Redhawks coach Bill Seiple helped launch the tournament fans know today. It started with 16 teams in 1976 but since has ballooned considerably; 149 teams competed last summer.
St. Charles High won the 1977 tournament, while St. Charles East took the 2001 crown after the school split.
In for six: In addition to shifting its home turf from Geneva’s Burgess Field to West Aurora, the Fox Valley Eagles semipro football team also has changed home kickoff times to 6 p.m.
Fox Valley is scheduled to host games on four of the next five Saturdays, beginning this weekend when it entertains the Rock County (Wis.) Rage.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.