Total devotion

The Baltimore Sun

Brandon MacKnew said he'd love to be involved with lacrosse 24/7. This spring, he's well on his way.

MacKnew is in his fourth year as Bel Air's starting goalie. But he also stays busy with lacrosse away from school, working as an official and a coach with the Churchville Recreation Council lacrosse program.

The combination of playing, coaching and officiating keeps MacKnew occupied with lacrosse in the final semester of his senior year. But he savors every minute of it.

"It puts a smile on my face, and at the end of the day, that's what it's all about," MacKnew said. "I just love to play and coach and officiate. Lacrosse is lacrosse, and it's the sport I love."

MacKnew's passion for lacrosse is obvious when watching him on the field. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound goalie truly is undeniably a team leader, barking out a constant stream of instructions to his teammates and pushing the Bobcats to do better.

The Bobcats have a 41-19 record with him in goal.

"He just goes ahead and ... leads a lot by example," Bel Air coach Scoop Kelly said. "Everyone knows that Brandon is back there. He's a hard worker. There isn't a guy that's more competitive than Brandon."

MacKnew initially played football and lacrosse at Bel Air. He had played football for 10 years but suffered a broken wrist as a freshman and then needed surgery for a shoulder injury early in his sophomore year.

At that point, MacKnew dropped football and focused on lacrosse. He worked out three to four days a week in the winter to prepare for the spring season, lifting weights and doing a variety of conditioning and agility drills.

"I'm not a technical goalie," MacKnew said. "Any way that I have to move my body or contort it, I'll do it."

MacKnew has matured the past couple of years, as a player and a student.

In the past, his intensity on the field sometimes led to being too emotional, but Kelly worked with him on toning things down.

MacKnew also didn't concentrate on his grades as much until late in his sophomore year. He described himself as "a clown" as a freshman, but some friends began pushing him to improve his grades in 10th grade, and he now has a 3.62 grade point average and is headed for Queens University of Charlotte, where he will play Division II lacrosse.

MacKnew's work with the Churchville recreation league also has played a part in his maturation. He has been officiating for three seasons, and this spring marks his second year as an assistant coach with the 11-12 travel team.

"When you're in the game, at least with me, I act on instinct," MacKnew said. "With coaching, you really have to think ... and officiating has taught me more than anything. You get a lot more respect for the referees."

Dale Green started the Churchville program seven years ago and serves as chairman and coach of the 11-12 team MacKnew works with. MacKnew is the first high school player to coach in the program.

"He does a great job for us," Green said. "His communication, his skills, it's [all] a combined package that helps our kids."

Green has been impressed with how the Churchville players have taken to MacKnew. In fact, Churchville players watch MacKnew and Bel Air play a few times each season, making sure to stay at whichever end the Bobcats goalie is at.

MacKnew, however, makes it a point not to let his recreational league activities take any time away from his high school lacrosse team.

"He doesn't let the things outside of our lacrosse team get mixed up with us," Bel Air teammate Grant Bridges said. "When he comes to practice, he does business. He's not worried about what he's going to do in an hour."

MacKnew's college major will be in some form of business and marketing, but he also wants to do something with lacrosse after college, even if his days of lacrosse 24/7 will become a thing of the past.

"I'd love to pay professional lacrosse, but right now, it doesn't pay the bills for a lot of guys," MacKnew said. "I'm going to college for an education and to get a job first. [Then] I'd love to coach when I get older."

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