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Ford junior's lacrosse talent not going unnoticed

  • Nick Iannuzzi

Nick Iannuzzi is just a junior on Ford’s lacrosse team, but he’s already having a considerable impact on the Falcons’ program.

This is just the third year that Ford has had a boys lacrosse team, and Iannuzzi has not only been a large part of the team’s recent success, but his talent has also drawn many young players to the sport.

“It’s actually propelled our program as far as recruits,” said Ford coach Brandon Bennett. “Coming in, we have a lot of younger kids, but when they see his name popping up throughout the school’s website they actually want to join because they see that lacrosse is an avenue for kids to do something in high school.

“We still have a JV program and our numbers are solid so that’s one thing, his recognition actually helps the program grow,” Bennett added.

Bennett believes one of the biggest advantages lacrosse has is that it doesn’t require a certain type of athlete to play. The sport’s ability to attract a diverse group of players, coupled with Iannuzzi’s talent, has helped Ford’s young program develop over the past three years.

“Football, other sports, they’ve been around for a long time and it’s harder to get that scholarship because that sport knows what it’s looking for,” Bennett said. “Lacrosse is so brand new that you can be so many different types of players that you can still get a scholarship. They’re looking for players.”

Iannuzzi’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of Macomb County, either.

The junior has caught the attention of schools in the Big Ten Conference, mainly Ohio State.

“Just that I’m a hard-working player and I’m willing to play any position to help the team,” Iannuzzi said of what he hopes to show any prospective universities.

Iannuzzi still has a considerable amount of time before he has to make any decisions about playing lacrosse at the next level, but there’s no doubt that he has a bright future ahead of him.

“It feels very humbling,” Iannuzzi said. “It just shows that my hard work is paying off.”

Hard work is an understatement.

Bennett said Iannuzzi has a constant drive to be a better athlete and spent last summer developing his right-hand shot. Iannuzzi has a very strong left-hand shot, which has helped him become nearly unstoppable, but he wasn’t satisfied with that.

“You want to be a threat from all angles,” Bennett said. “He’s a strong lefty. He can score anytime he wants with the left, but to be able to make a defense respect you, you have to be an all-around player so that’s the one thing I’m trying to get him to do is being a right-handed player.”

Ianuzzi couldn’t agree more.

“If defenders know that I’m just one-dimensional they’ll shut me down,” Iannuzzi said. “Being able to go both ways is very important.”

And that’s a prime example of why Iannuzzi is such a coachable player, which Bennett believes is one of the junior’s strongest assets.

“The thing that makes Nick special is he’s coachable,” Bennett said. “He listens to what you want to do and he wants to get better every single day.

“You gotta be coachable. If you don’t show you’re coachable right here, you might as well throw it (college) out the door. That’s the main obstacle. He’s got the skill, but if you’re not coachable, what’s the point of playing the sports? So that’s the biggest thing he’s got going for him.”

Bennett has also been impressed with Iannuzzi’s ability to improve his composure on the field between his sophomore and junior years. This improvement has shown how the junior has developed as a leader, as the Falcons look to Iannuzzi keep the right mindset, stay positive and pick the team up when it gets down.

Iannuzzi has accepted each and every one of those challenges this season.

“He manages his composure very well,” Bennett said. “When we go down in a game he knows how to balance and keep his composure. That’s what makes him a great captain and that’s what makes him a great leader and that affects his play. If he gets down too low he kind of plays out of control, so that’s one thing we’ve been working on is his composure overall.”

Iannuzzi also tries to lead by example at practice, understanding the how the Falcons practice is directly related to how they play, and trying to motivate his teammates to do the same.

“I try to bring some intensity and work hard and lead by example for my teammates,” Iannuzzi said. “Every day at practice I try to work my hardest and not try to goof around at all and stay focused the whole practice.”

Skills aside, being able to work hard, maintain composure, lead by example and be coachable are all intangible skills that make Iannuzzi a special player. And that’s exactly why Ianuzzi has not only experienced such success as a junior at Ford, but also will continue his lacrosse career at the next level.

“You can develop skill but you have to have the passion, you have to have the mindset to want to do it,” Bennett said. “Without being intellectually smart within the game you’re just a player at that point. And that’s what makes the difference between good players and great players and that’s what makes him great, is being able to be composed and have a good mindset.”

Last Updated: 4/19/2016 7:37:43 PM EST