One of the more unlikely stars of Division I lacrosse is one step away from leading one of the emerging powers of Division I lacrosse to its first ever Division I national championship.
Faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste was almost all set to attend a Division III school near his home state of New Jersey before Denver University head coach intervened, and the marriage of player and Hall-of-Fame coach has been alchemic. After Baptiste’s performance in the semifinals today against top-seeded Notre Dame in an 11-10 overtime victory, Baptiste, who set the freshman NCAA record for face-off wins earlier this month, now has 300 wins on the face-off X.
After the win over the Irish to send them to the national championship game on Monday, Baptiste talked with A Lot of Sports Talk about his journey from the Garden State to the Colorado Rockies, and his impact on the Pioneer lacrosse program.
ALOST: How was that Final Four experience as a freshman?
TB: Well, definitely that last game was a great experience. I guess just being on a team that can compete in the top four in the nation is a great feeling. I got the best teammates, and I’m happy where I am.
ALOST: How was it not to just play in a Final Four, but play in a Final Four just two hours due South of where you grew up in Morristown, NJ?
TB: It feels great. My parents were able to come down instead of having to fly over across the country to come to the game. You (they) just take an hour drive down. It feels good to be back on the East Coast.
ALOST: Did your parents fly out to see all of your games?
TB: Yeah. They came to all of them. All the home games. Sometimes it would be just my dad and sometimes just my mom. They made it out to all of them. I have great parents, and I’m definitely happy.
ALOST: When you were growing up, and being aware of some of the lacrosse powers, how aware were you of Denver?
TB: I obviously knew that Denver was an amazing school, an amazing lacrosse team and an amazing coaching staff, but I didn’t think I would ever be able to go there. I was actually committed to Division III until the winter of my senior year. That’s when I took a look at Denver. Coach Tierney invited me for a visit, so I came, visited. The campus was awesome, the team was awesome and the coaching staff was awesome.
ALOST: Did you contact Tierney or did he contact you?
TB: He contacted me, actually. I think we went through a few people to find me, but, I was committed to Division III, so I wasn’t looking for another college. A few DIs would contact me after I was committed and they invited me over to their campus and things like that. They didn’t look for me specifically, but looking for someone with my skill set.
ALOST: Could you have imagined not only being an integral part of the Denver team, but being a person that improved the faceoff percentages by 15 percent plus?
TB: I definitely didn’t think I was going to do that well. The team and the coaching staff makes it really easy. They’re just really supportive of every person on the team. I know they have my back no matter what. So they make it easy to just play the best to anyone’s individual ability.
[Cover photo (DU Pioneers celebrating goal) courtesy of DU Men’s Lacrosse]