There aren’t many ninth-graders who had the kind of weekend Ara Atayan did.
By the time the attackman/midfielder from New York State Class C finalist Bronxville flew home from Chapel Hill, N.C., last night, Atayan’s college choice had been completed.
Atayan verbally committed to the University of North Carolina yesterday to become the first member of the Class of 2017 to give a verbal and the first high school freshman in any sport in Hudson Valley history to make a Division I commitment.
Atayan told Joe Lombardi that he gave the verbal late Sunday morning before informing Joe shortly thereafter while in the airport in North Carolina.
“I met with (UNC Head) Coach (Joe) Breschi and the other (UNC) coaches yesterday,” Atayan said in yesterday’s update on LaxLessons.com’s Lacrosse Insider special coverage section. “They offered me a spot on the squad, and after talking to my parents and thinking it over, I accepted this morning.
“I’m excited about the challenge of improving my game over the next four years.”
The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Atayan is a versatile, quick and athletic player. He is equally strong with either hand, which makes him especially effective on dodger and sliding back and forth between attack and midfield.
“My ability to use both hands at a high level has helped my game a lot,” he said. “In addition, I look at myself as a two-way middie who loves to get the ball back and push transition. I like to play fast and share the ball.
You can watch Atayan’s highlight reels here. (You can see links to more highlights at the end of the Q&A).
Atayan is quarterback/linebacker/punter in football for the Broncos’ junior varsity team and also plays basketball.
“I am also working towards my black belt in karate, where I am currently an advanced brown belt,” he said.
He was introduced to lacrosse by his sister, Alina Atayan, who is currently a freshman playing at Marquette University.
What were the main factors in your decision?
The coaching staff, school, campus, facilities and culture. I went to UNC Camp each of the last two years and really got to know and respect the coaches at UNC. I felt very comfortable talking to all of them and expressing how I felt about the university. Also I loved how the school was set up, everything is very centrally located and accessible for the athletes.
In addition, as I am young, I have a lot of time to decide what I want to study. Carolina has a wide range of majors and they give you time to pick while you are there. After touring the campus I felt really at home.
UNC has a lot of history being the oldest state school in the country and is absolutely beautiful. The facilities are first class there, from the work out facilities to the academic help center, everything is top notch.
The culture at UNC is great. Everyone is so supportive of the student athletes and the other sport athletes are supportive of each other. Athletes are just another part of the student body as a whole; not some separate group perceived as getting special treatment. In addition, I love what (UNC Head) Coach (Joe) Breschi and his staff take pride in: family, academics, lacrosse. That is something I know will stick with me forever.
Finally, I want to be a contributor to a school that has very high goals such as winning the ACC championship and NCAA championship.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
I was always very focused on UNC. However, I did consider other great schools such as Virginia, Penn State, Ohio State and Georgetown. They all have amazing programs. But UNC felt right for me.
What area of your game do you need to work on?
I’m still physically growing and maturing. I feel a responsibility to continue to improve all aspects of my game so I enter UNC as a valuable asset to the program. I also want to continue working on my shooting from all spots of the field, as well as dodging from all parts. I will also be working to continuously work on my lax IQ because that is something I think can grow forever.
What travel team do you play on what showcase events did you participate in?
I play for the Long Island Express Orange team, where I am coached by Mike Chanenchuk Sr. and John Lynott. This summer I participated in the 2017 Nike Bluechip Camp and also the UNC Team Camp (as a free agent).
Any final thoughts?
I’d first off like to thank my parents (Christopher and Rene Atayan) who have put so much time and effort into getting me to lacrosse practices and tournaments – the Bronxville-to-Long Island ride takes commitment from both of us – and helping me make the right decisions about what teams to play for and guiding me through this process.
I’d also like to thank my sister who got me started and always believed in me.
In addition, I’d like to thank my club coaches Mr. Chanenchuk , Mr.Lynott , and the other Express coaches for all that they have taught me about myself and the player I am, and especially how much they pushed me.
I’d also like to thank my high school varsity coach, Tim Horgan, for allowing me to play JV this past season and for putting a lot of trust and support behind me. In addition, I’d like to thank my JV coach, Jake Kolb, who helped me have a great experience this past spring on the Broncos team as the only eighth-grader.
The McCall brothers who played at UNC, Matthias and Mike, have given me a lot of new tools to my game and support since the seventh grade.
My BYLA (Bronxville Youth Lacrosse Association) youth coaches were very important to me: Mr. Joe Landy and Mr. Jerry Frost, who helped instill the fundamentals of the game in me and were the start to my passion for lacrosse, as well as Mr. Paul Repp, who has been passing down his lacrosse experience to me.
Finally I’d like to thank my Express and Bronxville teammates, and their parents, for all the support, good times, and extra push to be our best in practices, and in competition.
More highlights of Atayan in action
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