When the Chapelgate Christian Academy boys lacrosse team celebrated its seniors on May 7 against Sandy Spring Friends, many were finishing a lacrosse journey that began as freshmen. Not Mark Rolewicz.
The do-it-all star of the Yellow Jackets team has been playing the sport since he was 5 years old and will continue his career at Liberty University playing in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. He’s also led the inexperienced Chapelgate squad on and off the field the last two years and this spring finished with 64 goals and 12 assists.
Rolewicz recently spoke with boys lacrosse beat reporter Tim Schwartz and talked about his experience at Chapelgate, what it’s like scoring that many goals and what it’s like teaching international students the sport.
Q: You’ve scored a lot of goals over the last two years. How much fun is it to score that many goals?
A: I’ve played for a really long time and it’s just so much fun. There’s no feeling to me like scoring a goal. It just gives me this adrenaline rush and this sense of accomplishment.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
Yeah, I played soccer and I do track in high school but I didn’t do that growing up. And I actually grew up next door to the Bruner family (Scott was Howard County Player of the Year in 2015 and Jeff is a junior at Howard), so we played a lot together growing up and we were always in the backyard shooting together. That really was a lot of fun.
Did you play lacrosse with Jeff growing up?
Yeah, we played four years together on rec and this past summer I played with Howard’s offseason team. ... It was a good experience.
Was senior night emotional for you?
I was disappointed we couldn’t pull out a win but it was fun just to be able to play with the guys. ... It’s bittersweet because I’m excited to play at Liberty next year — they play in the MCLA and it’s club there, so it’ll be fun but it’ll be a good experience.
What is it like playing with a lot of guys who are new to the sport?
I think it’s a good experience. Our school has a lot of international students — it’s about 30 percent international students — and we have a couple of them on our team. One of them, Eric Yang, was probably our second-best overall player. He’s an international student from Korea, picked the sport up his freshman year and he’s done really well. He actually tore his ACL last week so he wasn’t able to play on senior night, but I mean playing with players who don’t have the same experience I do, I have to word harder obviously but it’s still a good experience. I get to make them better and I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, which is probably good for me.
How did you end up at Chapelgate?
My siblings went to Chapelgate. My oldest brother Tommy played there and my other brother John played there. My freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t that great at lacrosse and I didn’t really do that much. My freshman year I had a good year and right before my sophomore year I broke my foot. ... Chapelgate is a great school. It’s a great education.
How do you sum up the four years you played lacrosse there?
It was a great experience. I definitely grew a lot with my teammates. All those players pretty much played since freshman year and we’ve really grown close together. Since Chapelgate is such a small school, almost all the guys in my grade are on the lacrosse team. We bond a lot, which is good. But I’m also looking forward to next year and playing with some really experienced players.
How often were guys looking at you for tips and how did you embrace that role?
Pretty often. We did some offseason stuff and Matt Cavrak, h’s really invested in growing the program at Chapelgate and he’s always seeing if me and other players want to meet up at Cedar Lane Park or Rockburn, to do some shooting or develop stick skills for players who have never really played before. Chapelgate also develops some players. Guys like Matt, Eric, Andrew Phillips, Jace Prefater, who have never played lacrosse before they got to Chapelgate, I don’t know if they could start on some of the public school teams but they could at least be on their varsity roster. They do a good job at developing players.
How excited are you to play at Liberty?
I’m really excited. My oldest brother played there and he had a great experience. Right now they’re in the quarterfinals in the MCLA tournament and playing against a bunch of River Hill guys who graduated and are at South Carolina. The program there really stands for a lot of the same thing I believe in with my faith. First comes their faith and then lacrosse and they can play lacrosse pretty well.