By Ryan Kaczmarski
Lacrosse is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds all across the state and the country and, in Rocky River, the addition of an All-American alumnus can make the popularity of the sport skyrocket into the stratosphere.
Recent Rocky River High School graduate Ty Daugstrup was named the school’s first-ever All-American in the sport of lacrosse this past season.
When the news came to Daugstrup, there was one person he knew that he had to thank.
“When I found out, I went right to my coach (Rocky River High School varsity lacrosse head coach Steve Anderson) and I thanked him, because these past two years he has built the (RRHS lacrosse) organization into what it is today,” he said. “Without him and the rest of the coaching staff we had this year, there is no way I would have even had a chance to be an All-American.
“So, I basically thanked him and the rest of my teammates, because without them, this would be impossible.”
The Pirates made it to the Division I state championship game this year – the second time in two years the team has made at least the state final four – and Anderson knows Daugstrup’s presence was a big factor in that.
“Ty was a positive force both on and off the field for us this year,” Anderson said. “He’s always given 100 percent of himself when playing, and it was truly contagious. Everyone fed off of his desire to succeed and help the team win.
“I’m most proud of how he developed as a person and as a leader in the three seasons I had him as a player,” he added. “That means the most to me. The award is just icing on the cake.”
The hopes are, with Daugstrup’s All-American status, there will be even more growth for the sport, both in the Rocky River community and all across Northeast Ohio.
“I think this was huge,” Daugstrup said. “It’s only the start for Rocky River lacrosse.
“It’s huge – being recognized as an All-American – because I prove that anyone from anywhere can come out and do this.”
For Anderson, the team’s run to the state championship game and Daugstrup’s accolades have had a large impact on the community.
“I still have people telling me how our season brought the community together, especially our run in the playoffs,” he said. “Ty’s individual recognition as an All-American is an incredible accomplishment and has really set the stage for young players in Rocky River to succeed at a very high level.
“Both the team’s performance and Ty’s performance put Rocky River lacrosse on the map in Ohio,” Anderson added. “I also feel it brought some well-deserved recognition to lacrosse on the west side of Cleveland. It can only have a positive effect on the program. Ty was the first, but he won’t be the last.”
Daugstrup thought of himself as mainly a hockey player who just dabbled in lacrosse until Anderson started to lead the high school program.
“I fell in love with (lacrosse) when Coach Anderson came in and he wanted to turn the whole thing around and make (it) where going to the state championship every year is the goal,” he said.
Daugstrup will attend Bridgton Academy in Maine this fall, where he will be playing lacrosse for head coach Jon Hunt in what is seen as one of the country’s premier prep programs.
Daugstrup’s departure from Rocky River High School does not mean there will be any fall-off in the program’s success. Lacrosse is regarded as one of the fastest growing youth and high school sports in the United States, and the success of the RRHS program is directly related to the growth of the sport.
“Lacrosse is such an incredible sport,” Anderson said. “More than anything, I’m proud that our program has had success by doing things the right way: Strong team play, good sportsmanship and hard work, too.
“David St. Pierre, Gary Cintrone and Skip Guilford set the right example at the youth level, and we try and do our part at the high school level,” he added. “With our combined efforts, lacrosse seems to have gained some traction and is becoming more and more popular across the board. It’s an exciting time for the sport of lacrosse.”