Loyola's Steele Stanwick knows a little something about excelling in varsity sports.
The senior was a starting forward on the soccer team, helping it reach the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinals. And he was the point guard for the basketball team that qualified for the A Conference playoffs this season.
Stanwick stands out the most, however, when he has a lacrosse stick in his hands. The Virginia-bound attackman is perhaps the best player in the metro area and one of the top players in the country.
So where do all of these athletic gifts come from? Hours in the weight room? Training year-round?
"Honestly, I think I got real lucky," Stanwick said of his athletic prowess. "My mom's dad was pretty athletic; he played basketball and tennis at Georgetown. Maybe I got some of those genes."
Indeed, Steele is part of a long line of Stanwicks who have made their marks in lacrosse.
Stanwick is one of eight children. His three older sisters -- Sheehan, Wick and Coco -- starred at Notre Dame Prep and played at Georgetown University. His older brother, Tad, played at Boys' Latin before moving on to Rutgers. His younger brother, Wells, is penciled in to start for the Lakers this year.
All of the Stanwicks are attackmen and attackers. Steele has been starting for Loyola since he was a freshman, and last season, he recorded 37 goals and 35 assists, led Loyola to the MIAA A Conference championship and was named All-Metro Player of the Year. He has 86 goals and 74 assists in his high school career.
"He does everything well. Everything," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. "He's the equivalent of a five-tool player in baseball. He's got incredible vision, he can score, he can feed. He just has a cool, calming presence, and he's the quarterback of their offense."
He showed his knack for stepping up in the biggest moments last season during the A Conference championship game. He had four goals and four assists in a 10-6 victory over Boys' Latin, giving Loyola its first conference crown since 2001.
"Anytime the ball is in Steele's hands, they can do something," Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver said. "He is just an outstanding player."
With an MIAA crown under his belt and a full ride to one of the best collegiate lacrosse schools in the nation waiting, what exactly does Stanwick have left to prove?
A lot, actually.
"One more championship would be a huge exclamation point for me and everyone on this team," Stanwick said. "I'm not exactly sure when the last team to repeat was, but I think it's like 13 years or something. I think it would be cool to be the first team to repeat in a while. It's a long-term goal, but it's my senior year and I want to leave a good mark."
The last team to repeat as conference champion was Gilman in 1995.
Stanwick will leave his mark on the Loyola program even if he's not able to lead the Dons to another title. In addition to being one of the best players every time he steps on the field, it's his demeanor during games that helps calm his teammates and allows the team to play at a high level.
"I think one of the things that people don't realize and don't see is he's a very good leader," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said. "His physical attributes are obvious, but he understands the game and is good at communicating to guys what to do in specific situations. He's a very calming influence to younger guys."
The Dons will certainly need that influence in a league that is one of the toughest in the country. Add in the fact that Loyola is ranked No. 1 in The Sun and was picked as the No. 1 high school boys lacrosse team in the country on insidelacrosse.com's preseason poll, and it's clear that there will be no shortage of pressure on the Dons.
"It kind of goes both ways," Stanwick said. "It's awesome to receive that recognition around the nation, but at the same time, it's almost a burden because you do have that big target on your back. You do the best you can and just try to put it in the back of your mind."
With so much on his plate -- from multiple sports, a chance to help his team repeat and a collegiate lacrosse career on the horizon -- Stanwick still has time to cherish his career playing for the royal blue and gold.
"There have been a lot of great players that have went through Loyola Blakefield, and it would definitely be nice to be remembered," Stanwick said. "But ultimately, it's not about that. I realize how lucky I've been to go to a school like Loyola and have the opportunity to play three sports.
"But there's still a lot more work to do, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get back to the championship game."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun