Every successful lacrosse team needs a player like Westminster senior captain Scott Gwyn. A long stick midfielder in his fourth varsity season, Gwyn enjoys winning a ground ball as much as providing an assist or scoring a big goal.
He thrives on defense, blanketing the opponent's top midfielder and also leading the Owls in man-down situations. Gwyn is smooth in transition to get the attack the ball and loves to do whatever is needed for his team to have success.
Last year, he was instrumental in helping the Owls capture their first Class 4A-3A state championship. This year, he's made sure the team has stayed focused on the challenge of repeating. The No. 8 Owls are 13-0 going into Thursday's regular season finale against Walkersville.
Gwyn has won 68 ground balls to go with two goals and five assists. With a 4.47 weighted GPA, he is set to play at Wheeling Jesuit University and plans to double major in political science and philosophy of politics and economics. He plans to become a politician.
What was the celebration like last season after winning the program's first state championship?
To be honest, I don't remember most of the celebration. I remember throwing my stick in the air and taking the photo, but other than that it was just like: "I can't believe this is happening, it's unreal." It's all kind of a blur. The bus ride was fun — a lot of "We're No. 1" chants and pictures with the trophy.
How have the expectations changed this season after winning it all last year?
It's that notion that, "Yeah we reached that level, but now we've got to go even harder to reach it again." So, it was kind of a mixed feeling. Some people were like "It's going to be easier this year." And a lot of us were like, "Well, we might have to work harder because we have a target on our back now."
Coach Steve Defeo mentioned your knack for winning ground balls. What is the key to the success?
It's just one of those things that I've always prided myself on. Each game, it doesn't matter if I have … a great offensive game or a bunch of strips. It's the ground balls to me because they are game changers. They're turnovers and it puts the balls back to our offense. It's always fun to watch our offense and that takes pressure off our defense.
What will it take to repeat as state champions?
A lot of heart. It's very difficult. It's going to take a lot of drive, a lot of staying focus, but definitely heart because that's what our team relies on. We feed off each other.
What made you become interested in politics?
My dad is a businessman, so he's always been very personable with people. And my mom works in the school system, so there's always been that sense of community. I guess one day I realized it's something I should do, go out of my way to help other people and that's probably the best way to do it.
What is the country's biggest concern today?
The poverty level. I know everybody says that, but there's too many people with too many unfortunate circumstances. We did a foundation last year, "Stick Up for the Homeless," in our game against Manchester Valley where we would get pledges for every goal and people would donate a certain amount of money. It was a high scoring game, so it worked out really well. What it came from was when I visited my sister in North Carolina and we stopped for gas and I saw a homeless man. He asked for change and I didn't have any. His face when I said I didn't have any was heartbreaking. So I went out to the car and had mom help me scavenge for any loose change. He asked for 50 cents so he could buy a cup of ramen from the store. I came back with $1.75 and I don't think he thought I was coming back. The way he lit up when I came back is something that stuck with me. I can't see people having that heartbreak — it's hard. There's so many opportunities and still so many people that can't get to the opportunities because of certain circumstances.
What's it like be so close to the end of your high school days?
I'm excited to go off to play for Wheeling — they have a great community, great coaches. But it's going to be hard leaving all my brothers on the [Westminster] lacrosse team because I've been with them forever. It's like a whole other family. It was hard when the seniors left last year, and the seniors before them and even my freshman year when I really didn't know any of them. And now I'm the one leaving, so it's going to be hard.
What was it about Wheeling?
When they first contacted me I asked if they wanted to see my [lacrosse] film and they said "No." They wanted to see my transcript. It kind of took me aback, like "Oh, I thought it was all about the tape." Mom and I were laughing thinking that we didn't have to spend hours on this five-minute long video. [Assistant coach Austin] Grimes is the one who recruited me, and he was a long stick midfielder at Wheeling. He saw me at one of the showcase tournaments and when he talked to me something seemed right. And when I first visited, it was a beautiful campus right in the mountains — I love the cold weather and the mountains. The team was welcoming, polite and very defensive oriented, which I love. And they recruited me for the position I play where some others colleges said I'd play defense and maybe we'd move you to long stick midfield or maybe keep me on defense depending on what they saw.