There was no youth lacrosse program when Turner Uppgren was growing up in Stillwater, Minn.
So his father decided to do something about that.
He started one – when Uppgren was a second-grader.
“Because the program was so low on players, he would throw me into the net with the fifth-and sixth-graders wearing hockey shin pads,” Uppgren said. “I was a little scrub. As I got older, I would play goalie with the older teams, and attack with the kids my age. Being a goalie finally stuck with me by about sixth grade.”
Just seven years later, that once self-described “little scrub” had his choice of the elite Division I college programs in the nation.
Uppgren, a sophomore at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.), has just made his choice, giving a verbal commitment to Duke University.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder is a fierce competitor and vocal communicator in goal. He is also a strong stopper who is proficient on clears, as his highlight film shows.
Now, here’s a Q&A with Turner on his commitment:
What were the main factors in your decision?
When I made my decision, I had to put the lacrosse aspect of each campus aside. The schools I looked at all had the best lacrosse programs in the nation. For me, I needed to find a place where I could be happy with lacrosse out of the picture. Also, the coaching staff at Duke made my family and I feel very comfortable in the process. At the end of the day, it was a decision that my family and I made together, and Duke was the right fit.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
My final decision came down to the three schools I visited which were Duke, Maryland and North Carolina. I had a chance to visit these three before football got into full swing. Other schools that showed interest included Penn State, Syracuse, Denver, Yale, Princeton and Harvard. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go out for a visit to these elite schools.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
My biggest strength is my competitiveness. I hate to lose. As a goalie, you can only do so much to control the game. I struggle with this sometimes, but I understand my role.
I am also strong mentally. Goalie is a unique position and you can’t be good if you’re easily rattled. As a goalie, I am very calm. I rarely leave my crease unless I’m chasing a shot, or racking up an easy GB.
I take shots downfield on clears, and am very vocal with my defense.
How did you begin playing lacrosse in Minnesota and when and how did you wind up playing at Choate?
When I was very little, there was no lacrosse program in Stillwater. My dad started one when I was in second grade. Because the program was so low on players, he would throw me into the net with the fifth-and sixth-graders wearing hockey shin pads. I was a little scrub. As I got older, I would play goalie with the older teams, and attack with the kids my age. Being a goalie finally stuck with me by about sixth grade. My love for lacrosse really started in eighth grade.
I made the high school team, and actually started for the last few games in the season, including two playoff wins. That was really when I decided to take lacrosse seriously. My brother was already at Choate by this point, and he loved it. The next year I made the big decision to head east.
Who have been some of the biggest influences on you during your development as a player?
There really are to many people to mention here. A big influence for me this past year was my high school coach, Mike Velez. He also coaches football and hockey. I got to know Coach Velez pretty well as the year went on. He expects a lot from me and will be the first to let me know if something isn’t going the way it should, both on and off the field. However he is always looking out for my best interests, and has developed me into not only a better player, but a better person as well.
Another would be my older brother, who is playing lacrosse at Tufts now. John showed me the ropes ever sense I was little. He served as a good role model as I got older.
What travel team did you play on and what were some of the big showcase events you participated in this past summer?
I played for the Minnesota Elite. As a team, we attended Hotbeds, Wolverine War, UNC Team Camp and the Adrenaline Shootout. My coach, Rob Horn, did a great job of getting us exposed to the lacrosse world outside of Minnesota. He also served as a mentor during the entire recruiting process.
As an individual, I attended the New England Under Armor tryouts, Jake Reeds Blue Chip, the Maverik Showtime and the National 175. I would say that the most important event for me was the Maverik Showtime simply because it had the most exposure. The sidelines were always filled with coaches, and Paul Carcaterra did a great job organizing the camp.
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