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Joe Belko of Wall Township (NJ) didn’t have to look far to find a college program that was an ideal fit both academically and athletically.
The 2017 defenseman decided on Monmouth University, a decision first reported by Joe Lombardi on LaxLessons.com’s Lacrosse Insider premium coverage section.
Belko, who plays travel for Team United, is a technically sound position defender with a high lacrosse IQ and high level of skill.
Now, here’s a Q&A with Joe on his commitment.
What were the main factors in your decision?
My goal is to run my own Residential Construction Company. I believe Monmouth’s Real Estate Program is the right program to help me accomplish that.
Additional reasons include that the Monmouth men’s lacrosse team is a startup program, the coach and coaching staff, the facilities and the money they are putting into new facilities and its proximity to the beach.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
My parents really stressed the need for me to visit as many schools as possible, even if I wasn’t interested in that school.
It was important to see a variety of schools in different states and divisions to get an idea of what interested me and what didn’t interest me.
In the end, schools I didn’t think I would like — I liked and schools I thought I would like — I didn’t.
The more time I spent visiting D-I schools the clearer it became they had the best resources for me.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
My strengths as a player are that I play a very physical game, fighting for groundballs and pushing GBs into a fast-paced transition. I play a very physical and very fast game.
What area of your game do you need to work on?
When playing X defense I can drive the attack/middies out away from the goal and into the alley.
One area that I am paying special attention to and working hard on getting better at is “closing the gate” and turning my man back to X.
If I can successfully do that it benefits the team by enabling everyone to reset themselves.
How did you get introduced to lacrosse and what other sports have you played?
Thankfully, Kevin Doyle founded the Wall Lacrosse Club and in my first year of eligibility I started playing for him.
I was playing other sports at the time: football, baseball, soccer, basketball and running cross country, but I knew immediately this was the one sport I loved.
What travel team do you play on and what showcase events did you participate in?
My travel team is Steve Carcaterra’s United Lacrosse based out of Little Silver, NJ.
My three favorite Showcase events have been Maverik Showtime, the United Capital Challenge in Albany, NY and NXT Philly.
It was at Maverik Showtime that I was originally introduced to Monmouth lacrosse.
Any final thoughts and people you want to thank for helping you reach this point?
I would like to thank Monmouth University, (Monmouth Head) Coach (Brian) Fisher and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play at the next level but I didn’t get here alone.
Thank you to Steve Carcaterra for his endless advice & guidance; all my coaches at United Lacrosse, Kevin Doyle for founding Wall Lacrosse; Jon Rodak my first coach; Chris Knight for entrusting me with a varsity spot as a freshman; my trainer Val Barnaby; and, of course, my parents for not only supporting me, pushing me and believing in me but for funding all of this.