The lacrosse players at Towson High aren’t the only ones working hard and running around with smiles on their faces.
New coach Rick Brocato is beaming with pride as he returns to the school where he graduated from in 1981.
Brocato stepped down from coaching lacrosse at St. Paul’s in 2017 after 17 seasons, leaving as the program’s all-time wins leader with 241.
Brocato had two stints at St. Paul’s (1995-1999, 2006-2017) and won a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title in 2010.
“I certainly wasn’t looking to get a new job,” Brocato said. “I had retired from varsity coaching at St. Paul’s, but we just felt like when this opportunity came up I couldn’t say no to my old school.”
Brocato got a sneak peak of several of his players in 2020 before the season was canceled because of COVID-19 and he’s thrilled to have many of them back this season.
“We do have 17 seniors back and 25 back from last year’s team,” Brocato said. “We feel like we have a good core group coming back and great senior leadership which has been huge here at the beginning of this season.”
Among the seniors back on attack are Evan Jones, Colin Hughes and Mason Cloyd.
Cloyd will play at Virginia Tech and Hughes will play at McDaniel College.
Jones is one of four captains along with defenseman Joe Murray, senior midfielder Nate Hochrein (St. Mary’s) and senior goalie Michael Giordani.
Giordani, a right-hander, will split time in goal with southpaw Jack Skeen.
“They are both very capable goalies,” Brocato said.
Joining Murray on defense are seniors Riley Wagner (Florida Tech), Max Osborne and George Andreou.
“He (Wagner) is a great athlete and he and Evan were both on that varsity soccer team that won the Baltimore County championship recently,” Brocato said. “Those four guys all were starters last year and will come back and be starters again.”
Faceoff specialist Kyle Ketterman is also a senior.
Junior Will Derbyshire and sophomores Ben Ellis and Bennett Chambers will be contributors in the midfield.
Towson opens the season with home games against Franklin (May 11) and Dulaney (May 13) and Brocato can see the eagerness in his kids during practice.
“The kids are so happy to be out there playing. It’s been great to see the smiles on their faces,” Brocato said. “They don’t really mind working really hard because they had it all stripped from them last year.”
He preaches to them to control what they can control.
“What you can control is every day on our field together getting better and enjoying being around your buddies,” he said. “What we learned last year is how hard would you play today if you knew you couldn’t tomorrow. All the kids that I’m seeing playing at the college level, at the high school level, I think they are figuring that out and it’s giving them some kind of renewed purpose in the game and not to take things for granted.”
Brocato is not taking being back at his alma mater for granted either.
“It just feels right to be back at Towson where it all started,” Brocato said. “I feel very fortunate and grateful to be able to come full circle like this. The school means an awful lot to me and I had some great years there and some great mentors in coach [Randy] Dase, who is my assistant.”
Towson is scheduled to play eight games during the regular season.
In addition to playing Franklin twice and Dulaney, they will also play Catonsville, Hereford, Perry Hall, Sparrows Point and Eastern Tech.
“I think everybody is pointing to Catonsville as being the team to beat and they are really talented and a very good team,” Brocato said. “I think Hereford is going to be very good, Dulaney is going to be good, Perry Hall is going to be really solid and Franklin is going to be really solid, so I think it’s a competitive schedule and it will be a lot of fun to play competitive lacrosse.”