In some ways, lacrosse is still almost brand new to Nolan Callahan.
In other ways, the rising junior at Avon Old Farms (Conn.) is already a student of the game.
The goaltender, who did not start playing the sport until age 15, has crammed what many take years to acquire into what has turned into a meteoric rise.
The 6-foot-4 Callahan takes up a lot of space in goal but still has enough quickness to start transition opportunities, attributes on display in his highlight film.
Callahan’s story is as unique as it is intriguing.
Now, here’s a Q&A with Nolan on his commitment.
What were the main factors in your decision?
The main factors in my decision to attend Syracuse, and during my entire college recruiting process, mainly revolved around the gut feeling I had when I stepped foot on campus, as well as what would offer me the best opportunity looking into my future and life off of the playing field.
Finding a school where I could thrive academically, socially and athletically was most important to me during my process. In addition to that, I wanted a chance to compete for a national championship year in and year out, as well as a goalie situation that would challenge me to work my hardest everyday to have the opportunity to step on the field.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
I visited Vermont, Denver, Georgetown and Marquette, and also considered Dartmouth, Cornell and Air Force.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
My strengths as a player are my ability to communicate clearly and efficiently with any defense I am put in with, as well as pushing the tempo of transition. I like to speed up the game and throw quick outlet passes which was a really strong part of our production this past year at Avon. Having only played for three seasons, I hope to really fine tune my overall technique as well as my foot speed, while better finding the release of the ball.
How did you pick up the sport in the Florida and when and how did it come about that you decided to attend Avon?
I had played hockey at a very high level my entire life in Florida, and that was the path I thought that my athletic career would take. I played d-pole for a rec program in Florida for a few months in eighth grade before departing for Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, N.H., for a repeat eighth and ninth grade to play hockey.
When I got to Cardigan, I considered myself a hockey player and planned on playing tennis that first spring. Upon the convincing of Adam Phillie (Deerfield ’13, Dartmouth), I picked up playing lacrosse goalie that winter, because the lacrosse program did not have anyone coming up.
A lot of those first two years I was teaching myself to play, watching a lot of film on former Syracuse goalie John Galloway and mimicking his movements in the cage.
Being a hockey goalie helped me to not shy away from the ball, and with the help of my coaches, I had a chance to play at many high powered New England prep programs.
Avon was the place I felt most at home, even though I knew I was going into a goalie situation that would prove incredibly difficult to make the varsity, but (Avon Old Farms Head) Coach (Skip) Flanagan was certainly the coach I wanted to play for, and he gave me the opportunity to prove myself even though I was just a sophomore.
Although it was both a blessing and a curse when Will Ryan went down to injury, I never thought I would be able to be in the net as a sophomore for Avon, and never would have dreamed that I would have been a first-team All-Western New England selection. I cannot thank my coaches enough for that opportunity.
Who have been some of the biggest influences on you during your development as a player?
The biggest influences in my game have come this past year while a sophomore at Avon. Being behind Under Armour All-American Will Ryan (Johns Hopkins), and having him as a mentor and leader proved to be more than I could ask for. He took me under his wing from the moment I walked on campus, and he always encouraged me to push myself to be the best. All Avon varsity goalies worked closely with Coach Christopher Buck as well, and he helped me to better fine tune my game. Along with everyone at Avon, my coaches at Cardigan were the first to notice that I could take lacrosse into college, and I cannot thank them enough for that.
What travel team did you play on and what were some of the big showcase events you participated in this past summer?
For the past two summers, I’ve played for 3D Select New England under coaches Dave Jenkins, Matt Rowley and Jamie Munro.
This past summer, I attended the Prep School Showcase at the Brunswick School and Denver Shooutout where I was an all-star selection, as well as King of the Hill, Jake Reed’s Nike Blue Chip and MVP at Ryder University where I was an all-star selection, and FLG in 3D.
Follow Joe Lombardi at Twitter.com/joe_lombardi.
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Posted In: Recruiting updates