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Wells and Covie Stanwick carry on family's lacrosse legacy

Wells and Covie Stanwick were practically born with lacrosse sticks in their hands.

By the time they could walk, they were trying to emulate their older siblings Sheehan, Wick, Coco, Tad and Steele, who were beginning to lay the groundwork that would make the name Stanwick synonymous with Baltimore lacrosse. All five helped their high school teams win championships and went on to stellar college careers -- four as All-Americans who played in at least one Final Four.

Wells, 19, and Covie, who turns 18 on Sunday, carry on that legacy. Both seniors -- because Wells spent a year in pre-first grade and Covie didn't -- rank among the top high school seniors in the country. Inside Lacrosse rates Covie No. 1 in the girls Class of 2011. Wells ranks No. 3 among the boys and is the top pick from Maryland. Both were Baltimore Sun All-Metro, All-Tewaaraton and All-American selections as juniors.

Both play attack -- as do all of the siblings, including the youngest, Shack, a 15-year-old freshman at Boys' Latin.

Wells and Covie boast multifaceted games and excel at running the offense, creating scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates. Between them, they had a hand in 214 points last spring -- 100 of them assists.

When Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver starts talking about Wells, he can't help but bring all the boys into the conversation. He said he doesn't know much about the girls' game, but he might as well be describing the girls, too.

"They're all extremely skilled, especially with their sticks. They're very adept with both hands. There's not a position on the field where they are at a disadvantage from a stick-skills perspective, and that's a really nice thing to start with. They're heady players, they work hard and they're really very passionate about the game. They just love to play," said Shriver, who has coached Tad, Wells and Shack at BL, and coached against Steele, who played at Loyola.

At Notre Dame Prep, Covie has been the offensive quarterback since her freshman year.

"Covie can carry an attack without being selfish," Blazers coach Mary Bartel said. "She can be the assister. She can be the finisher. She knows the game. She sees the field. She's the whole package."

Wells is, too.

"He can attack both sides of the goal," Shriver said. "He's got feet that are quick enough that he can change direction extremely well. I would say he's probably a little bit more of a feeder. Steele's been more of a feeder, I think. Tad probably went to the goal a little bit better."

Last summer, Covie became the third Stanwick to be named to a U.S. Under-19 team, and will play for the world championship in Germany in August. Coco won a world Under-19 title in 2003 and Steele made the 2008 men's team but missed the competition with a hand injury.

Although neither parent played lacrosse, the children's grandfather, Tad Stanwick, was a standout at St. John's in Annapolis, coached at Lehigh and wrote the first book on the 10-man game.

Sheehan, now 31, and Wick, 29, brought the sport back into the family after they moved from Chevy Chase to Roland Park when Sheehan was a first-grader.

As they and Coco, 26, moved on to Georgetown and Tad, 24, to Rutgers, Dori and Wells Stanwick Sr. packed the younger kids in their Chevy Suburban and drove off to watch all the games.

"It just caught on," Wells Stanwick Sr. said. "Because it was a big family and it, obviously, was a young family. When we would go to Sheehan's game, everyone went and when we would go to Wick's games, everybody went, because we didn't have any baby sitters."

It was just natural for the younger Stanwicks to pick up the game.

"Every weekend we were going to games, so it just became the sport to play," Wells said.

Although the sport may bore one member of the family -- a black lab named Clyde who has never been motivated to retrieve a lacrosse ball -- the siblings still hone their stick skills on the brick wall surrounding their yard and stage a few one-on-one battles at the backyard net.

They have so much equipment that there's a lacrosse closet by the back door just to hold it all.

The ringleader -- Sheehan Stanwick Burch, now a women's lacrosse analyst for CBS College Sports who has two aspiring little lacrosse players of her own -- said she never thought all eight siblings would end up playing.

"It wasn't like you had to play lacrosse," she said. "There was a year when Tad was really little that he decided he didn't want to play and that was fine. Once you were playing, you had to take it seriously, but everyone really, truly enjoys it."

Like all the Stanwicks, Wells and Covie play multiple sports, but there was never any doubt they would follow their siblings into Division I lacrosse. Wells is headed to Johns Hopkins and Covie will be off to Boston College.

Covie and Wells say they don't feel pressure to reach the bar set so high by their older siblings -- and that bar is pretty high.

In 2008, SI on Campus listed Sheehan, Wick and Coco collectively at No. 6 on Georgetown's slate of all-time best athletes. Tad still ranks among the top scorers in Boys' Latin's storied history and Steele, 21, was the 2007 All-Metro Player of the Year and an All-America sophomore last year at Virginia.

"There's got to be pressure whether they admit to it or not," Shriver said. "It's an incredible legacy going back to Sheehan. You hear the name Stanwick and automatically, you're going to think lacrosse. It can't be easy. Everybody's gunning for them, too. Every time one of those kids steps on a lacrosse field, somebody is going to try to make their mark by stopping them, hitting them, taking them out because of who they are."

But they always know that they have plenty of support at home. They all try to see as many of each other's games as possible.

"I think lacrosse has kept us together," Covie said. "We'll play together on Sundays and it's a big topic of discussion a lot of the time. When we were younger, we would all travel to the games, so we were always together."

Last year, when Steele played in the Final Four with the Cavaliers, the entire family was in the stands at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I was a lot younger when my sisters and brothers were playing," Wells said. "So I try to find out what their high school games were like and if I see a guy in college, I always ask my brothers questions about what he was like in high school. It kind of just builds a relationship."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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