Committing to the Portal



Imagine the feeling of being a freshman.  Imagine walking into a new situation in a very new area, where nobody knows your name and every person seems like an alien.  Think about all the times you had to jump out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to so many new people.

Now imagine having to do it every single year, at four different schools, with four very different groups of people in four very distinct areas.  Seems difficult, right?  Well, welcome to the Transfer Portal.

Also known as my life.

Being an athlete is something that I take a lot of pride in.  I have worked for most of my life to better my skills at all the sports I have played.  Football, basketball, wrestling, and the sport that I play at Mercy College, lacrosse.  I was told in eighth grade that if I were to go to college to play a sport, my best chance would be with the sport with the giant metal sticks.

I poured a lot of energy (and money) into working towards a college opportunity with lacrosse.  Endless amounts of car rides to Long Island, Baltimore, Albany, and other far and away places just to get me a shot at fulfilling a dream. The story of my high school experience is a lot like the stories you may hear from other athletes. I trained hard, sure. I pushed myself, absolutely. All to get a chance to play college athletics. 

I was fortunate enough in high school to play for the Dukes Lacrosse Club out of the mainline in Philadelphia.  The club has produced some of the game’s best players, including Matt Rambo, Austin Pifani, and Michael Sowers.  Now, I know the lacrosse illiterate audience may not be aware of who these guys are, so take my word that these three are some of the best at their positions in the PLL (Premier Lacrosse League).  

I was a member of one of their B teams entering high school, but I had worked hard enough to be promoted to their top A team heading into my junior year of high school.  I was starting to see my hard work paying off in a big way.  The A team was where college coaches were looking for their next group of kids.  I had teammates at the point who were already committed to the top Division I schools in the country.  

I have always been realistic about my abilities and lacrosse skill level.  I knew that high Division I was more than likely out of the question for somebody like me.  Sure, I am a larger-than-average human (6’3”, 210).  But, I also know I’m not the fastest individual on the planet, which is so crucial for the game of lacrosse.  I had my sights set on low Division I, or even a high-level Division II or III school.

In October of my junior year of high school, I received some offers from some notable schools, including Robert Morris and Cabrini.  Still, I had yet to receive an offer that truly intrigued me.  That was when Salisbury University entered the picture.

When some people think about college dynasties, many will think about the University of Alabama football team, or the UConn women’s basketball team.  The Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team was absolutely in that class in the year 2016.  Since head coach Jim Berkman became head coach in 1989, every player he recruited left the school with at least one national championship win.

The school is located in Ocean City, Maryland (awesome right?),  had a great reputation for winning, and in October, 2016 they came to the Lehigh Valley to recruit me.

Their pitch is simple: You want to win and have fun doing it? You need to be at Salisbury.  I was definitely intrigued by all of it.  They hadn’t received any other commitments in my class, so I had the opportunity to be the first member of their 2018 class.  Once I was offered, I was certainly excited, but I still wanted to take my time with my decision.  Coach Berkman had other thoughts for me.  He told me very simply that I had three days to decide, or the offer would be gone.

So what would you do in such a high-pressure situation? Probably wait for a different offer, right?  Well, instead of waiting on a different offer, I said “(expletive) it” and committed on the spot.  I liked the school and the team and I thought it was going to be perfect. I didn’t care about the ticking clock.  I was ready for Salisbury.

Halfway through my junior year of high school, I was already locked into my future college and was afforded the opportunity to coast through until graduation.  I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world.

However, this is not your typical, feel-good athlete story.  This isn’t the tale of a young man who worked so hard for an opportunity to then achieve everything he’d ever dreamed of.  I ultimately did not stay at Salisbury long.  I didn’t stay at my second school long either.  Or the third school.  Now at Mercy College, I think back and reflect about how ridiculous it was for me to make such a big decision at 16 years old.  It makes sense why I’ve had to transfer so often, but I still didn’t expect to be at school number four.  

The transfer portal for many fans of college sports is a way for a team to get better.  For me, It is the thing that has flipped my life upside down over and over again.  And it happened because a coach made me make this decision way too soon.