When it came to picking a college, Glenelg Country lacrosse standout Riley Reese had most of the boxes checked off long before he made his commitment official in late September.
Still, the 16-year-old junior defenseman did his due diligence, making sure of the academic fit at his top school and respectfully listening to the pitches made by the other interested programs.
The writing, however, had long been written on the wall.
After all, how could he not choose the place his parents — Brian and Cathy — enjoyed stellar playing careers, where his mother has strengthened a national power as coach of the women’s program, and where he has spent so many glorious days watching college lacrosse?
No question, Maryland has his heart.
“Growing up, I’ve been around Maryland athletics and just to see how great it is for the university, it’s always been a big dream of mine to be a part of,” Reese said. “Once I made it official, I actually couldn’t believe it. Both my parents were in tears for a little bit — they were really excited about the news — and it was a really exciting time for me.”
Reese is a coach’s son times two.
While Cathy Reese has led the Maryland women to five national championships since taking over the program in 2007, Brian Reese had two coaching stints in Major League Lacrosse and currently coaches Riley’s club team, the Roughriders.
The benefits that come with it — the knowledge gained and the approach taken — stand out in Riley’s play.
A starter on Glenelg Country’s defense as a freshman, Reese is always at the right place at the right time, bringing gifted stick skills, grit and communication to help keep a tidy unit.
“The best part about him — and I’ve always said this — is he absolutely loves to play lacrosse. It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a game or a scrimmage or whatever,” Glenelg Country coach Kevin Boland said. “Riley’s a kid who always sets the tone for practice or a game or whatever. If some guys are flat, he has a way of bringing them up. He just brings a ton of energy to the team that is infectious and it goes through all of our guys.”
Brian and Cathy Reese, who met in their freshmen years at College Park, never pressured Riley to go to Maryland, but recognize it was ingrained in him.
Growing up, his bedroom walls were painted red, matching his bed sheets and complementing the Maryland Terrapins stickers that took over his door. When Maryland great Jen Adams became the women’s coach at Loyola Maryland, she gave him a Greyhounds T-shirt that became the only thing in his wardrobe not red.
His hard work and natural ability in lacrosse, along with his strong academics, afforded him the opportunity to select Maryland. As a proud alum who has high expectations for the program, Brian Reese is confident Riley understands what lies ahead and that he can ultimately measure up.
“Riley’s pretty driven,” Brian Reese said. “As somebody who has been around athletics his whole life and having parents around it, he kind of understands what it takes to be successful, and I think it’s been a good example for him to see. But it’s also great for him to be able to push himself and not really have to make us push him.”
The farther away a club tournament may be, the better it is for Riley, who has made the most of the cherished car rides home with his father, who was an All-America defenseman during his playing days. They talk lacrosse in detail, right down to the specific situations Riley might come across earlier in the day. Later, they watch game film to further analyze.
Riley welcomes the challenge that will come when he takes the field at Maryland, a place where his father had so much success.
“It’ll be fun to see. Honestly, it’s a little like you want to live up to how your dad did or even be a little better than him because then when you’re older you can go home and say ‘Dad I had more caused turnovers than you did, how do you feel about that?’” he said, laughing. “It’ll be fun to joke around. So it’ll be an interesting experience. It’ll obviously be fun, but also ‘OK, I got to live up to this and I can do this.’"
For special occasions, the Reese family — Riley is the oldest of four children — calls Sakura Japanese Steakhouse in Ellicott City its signature spot to celebrate. The night Riley committed to Maryland was one of those times, the table’s star opting for a filet, fried rice and mushrooms.
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“Riley has grown up around the university and its athletic programs, and obviously has a lot of passion for Maryland lacrosse,” Cathy said. “So it’s been really cool to watch him find his spot and create his path and do his thing. We’re thrilled for him to play for Coach [John] Tillman and carry on at Maryland. We just wanted him to find his own thing and make sure it was what he wanted, even though Brian and I are obviously deep down very excited and thrilled to have him in a Maryland uniform.”