Shack Stanwick knew this time — the end to his playing career for the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team — would come. But even advanced warning and preparation has not adequately helped the senior attackman brace for the inevitable conclusion.
"I think anyone who would say that it's easier and that you're not going to miss it wouldn't be telling the full truth," he said with a chuckle. "It's tough. I've thought about it, and you constantly hear from the older guys who have been through it about how you should enjoy the moment because you're going to miss it. So I'm really just trying to take in all that I can."
The coda to Stanwick's tenure with the No. 5 Blue Jays (7-2, 1-0 Big Ten) — who welcome Ohio State (5-5, 0-1) to Homewood Field for a noon faceoff Saturday — is almost as saddening for his immediate family: his father, Wells Sr., his mother, Dori, and his seven siblings.
Shack is the last of eight Stanwick children to play Division I lacrosse. The family has collectively produced almost 1,900 points, 20 All-American honors, countless personal records, one Tewaaraton Award and one national championship.
The Gait and Powell brothers have long been associated with the sport of lacrosse, but former Virginia coach Dom Starsia – who coached Steele from 2009 to 2012 – called the Stanwicks "the first family of college lacrosse."
"He is one of the most kind and thoughtful young men I have come to know and, as far as I can tell, he has seven siblings who share these same qualities," Starsia said. "The world of lacrosse should give an award to Mr. and Mrs. Stanwick for nurturing this family and sharing them all with the rest of us."
Added Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala: "What they've done in lacrosse is amazing, and they've created a phenomenal lacrosse legacy."
Lacrosse has been ingrained in the Stanwick family. Even though Wells Stanwick Sr. did not play lacrosse at the collegiate level, his father Tad played for St. John's College in Annapolis and wrote a book on the 10-man game.
In 1986, Wells Sr. moved daughters Sheehan, Wick and Coco, and wife Dori (who was pregnant with Tad) from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore and introduced Sheehan to lacrosse in part to take advantage of the mild spring weather.
Asked if he could have envisioned the paths his children took, Wells Sr. replied, "Absolutely not."
Sheehan was the trailblazer, attending Georgetown and becoming the program's all-time leader in points. Wick and Coco followed their big sister to the Hoyas, and the pipeIine was established.
At one point, as many as seven of the children had lacrosse games or practices on Saturdays. Not the type of parents to miss a game, Wells and Dori sacrificed money, time and effort to find a way to shuttle the children and catch at least several minutes of action.
"I can remember at a young age, my dad saying, 'Hey, if you want to do this, let me know and I can push you,' " recalled Steele, 28, now an assistant coach for the Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse program. "And I can remember thinking, 'Yeah, I definitely want to do this.' So they deserve all the credit. My dad spent a lot of Saturdays and Sundays and weeknights after work working with us, and my mom was at every game, supporting us and driving us there."
All eight siblings are close, but lacrosse has been the family's magnet, Sheehan Stanwick Burch said.
"I think we realize how rare and how awesome it is that we were all able to play at the Division I level," said Sheehan, who helps provide lacrosse analysis for ESPNU, CBS Sports Network and Big Ten Network. "So I think we will be sad, but it's really helped our family. We've always been a close family, and it has helped our family stay close. So I'm just grateful."
Many members of the family have been attending Shack's games in his final season. ("I think people think I'm Shack's mom at the games," joked Sheehan, 38. "It's been that long of a ride.") The entire clan is planning on gathering at Homewood Field for Shack's regular-season home finale against No. 2 Maryland on April 28.
With one goal and four assists in the Blue Jays' 13-12 win at No. 9 Rutgers on Sunday, Shack set a school record with at least one point in 57 consecutive games. He also is tied for sixth in program history in assists with 103.
While the family's hopes of a second national title rest on Shack, he said he does not feel any pressure to end his career that way.
"I think personally, I just want this to be a really successful year, and I think my family members want that for me as well," the 23-year-old said. "They're super supportive. So I don't really feel that burden. It's more of a thing that I'm the last one and this is kind of the last ride."
Next spring will mark the first time since 1997 that a Stanwick family member will not be playing college lacrosse. But that doesn't mean they will be idle. Sheehan, Wick Miesner and Coco Brant are busy with their own children – some of whom are playing lacrosse. Steele will be busy with his coaching duties with the Johns Hopkins women's team.
But what about the parents? Sheehan said she wouldn't be surprised if her parents "may be lacrossed out." Wells Jr. quipped, "I don't even know what my parents like to do in the spring except go to lacrosse games. Maybe they'll pick up a new hobby."
Wells Sr. said he intends to go to games at Johns Hopkins, Loyola Maryland and Towson, and "be a real fan of the game."
As for his emotions after Shack's final game sometime in May, Wells Sr. said they will probably be the same after the first seven played for the last time.
"I'm not even going to be thinking that this is the last game of the last kid," he said. "It's going to be hard, but it was definitely hard for the other seven kids. Lacrosse has been great to him, and it's been great to our family. We're going to be thankful – thankful for all of the opportunities that have been afforded to us. The train is going to stop for their playing, but the train is not going to stop on lacrosse."
All eight children of Baltimore's Stanwick family played Division I college lacrosse, collecting 20 All-American honors (nine first team) and scoring 1,864 points on 1,118 goals and 746 assists. Here is a brief list of the siblings' accomplishments.
Player; School; Years; Career achievements
Sheehan; Georgetown; 1998-2001; 4x All-American, program leader in scoring
Wick; Georgetown; 2000-2003; 2x All-American, No. 5 in school history in scoring
Coco; Georgetown; 2004-2007; 3x All-American, No. 3 in program history in scoring
Tad; Rutgers; 2006-2010; Four-year starter, team captain
Steele; Virginia; 2009-2012; 3x All-American, 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner, 2011 national champ
Wells Jr.; Johns Hopkins; 2012-2015; 3x All-American, No. 2 in school history in assists
Covie; Boston College; 2012-2015; 3x All-American, program leader in scoring
Shack; Johns Hopkins; 2015-present; 2x All-American, tied for No. 6 in school history in assists