By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Westlake High School varsity lacrosse team is finishing up one of its more promising seasons in the program’s existence, hovering around the .500 mark in the tough, Division I – Northwest District of the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association, and is preparing to make a run deep into the postseason.
The team has many leaders on the field, but one player stands out from the rest by his actions off the field. He is junior midfielder Adam Sandor.
Sandor is a three-sport star for Westlake, playing varsity football and ice hockey, along with being a major force on the lacrosse field. Even with the busy schedule of a varsity high school athlete, he is still able to maintain a GPA above 3.0, as well as volunteering time as an assistant in adaptive physical education classes, for special needs kids, and participating in the Leadership Challenge.
“I have two study halls – there’s two classrooms where the special needs kids are at – and normally I’ll go there during my first study hall and hang out and socialize with them,” Sandor said. “The adaptive P.E. is later in the day in the gym (during his second study hall), and with the Leadership Challenge, I lead (the P.E. class).”
Sandor also accompanies the class on field trips (they went to the zoo yesterday) and helps with Wednesday bowling trips.
“It’s hard to do the after-school stuff with them, because I have practice (or a game) almost every day,” he said. “When I can, I try to see them during the school day.
“I’m like a night owl, so I can get my homework done then.”
Sandor feels he gets a lot out of his role as a mentor.
“I just like helping them out,” he said. “In eighth grade, my principal, Mr. Neumann, was telling me about a student who was sad, because his brother and father were really good at sports, and he couldn’t perform like they could. I don’t know why, but it touched me, and I felt like I wanted to help (special needs children) with their daily routine. We just try to get into their lives in a positive way.”
He even encourages his friends and classmates to join him and help out.
“Just the other day, some of my buddies and I went (to the special ed class) and we were all singing and having fun,” he said.
Even though he is not a senior, varsity lacrosse head coach Bill Bongers cast him in the leadership role on the field with no trepidation.
“People follow him, no matter what he does,” Bongers said. “He’s been playing for us for three years – ever since he was a freshman – with a high skill level, and he’s got the leadership qualities most of his teammates are looking for.”
Sandor started playing ice hockey as a youth, but did not pick up the sport of lacrosse until his middle school years.
“I’ve known him since the seventh grade, and he’s just a tough kid,” Bongers said. “If you’re a good athlete, you can pick this sport up real quickly. He excels at it, and if he keeps improving, like he can, I’m sure some colleges will look at him, because of his athletic ability and his ceiling for growth.”
Sandor is not the only one in his family who helps the special ed classes. He is also joined by his sister, which makes his father, Frank Sandor, stick his chest out a little when mentioning it.
“Adam and his sister Jamie do a great job with the adaptive P.E. program,” he said. “The kids love them, and they love the program. It takes a lot of patience, more patience than I have. I’m very proud of them.”
With the postseason right around the corner, Sandor likes his team’s chances to progress deep into the state tournament.
“With the record we have this year (6-7 as of May 13), we should get a home game in the first round,” he said.
“We’re in one of the toughest regions around, and we’re grouped in with some good teams from Columbus and Toledo,” Bongers said. “No matter who we draw (in the first round), we’re going to have a battle. There’s a lot of talent in the Northwest region of Ohio.”
Westlake will finish the regular season Friday at Rocky River, with the playoffs slated to begin on May 22. Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m.