Alumni: Salamanca’s John making a mark as Hobart captain
A year ago, Tanner John was hobbled by injury and effectively fell out of the Hobart men’s lacrosse team’s rotation. Now, he’s one of four team captains.
Two weeks ago, coach Greg Raymond called a special meeting with his seniors to take stock of the team. Having already appointed Frank Brown and Grant Soucy captains at the beginning of the season, he chose to also give that honor to two more seniors, John, a former multi-sport Salamanca High School star, and Max Romm.
Brown, a Silver Creek graduate and Red House native who attended Salamanca schools through the 10th grade, and Soucy didn’t lose their captaincies. Raymond merely thought they needed help, as both were missing practice time due to nagging injuries.
“We needed some more defined leadership on the field of play in a practice structure day-to-day,” Raymond told the Salamanca Press, “just so that a couple guys would feel like they had the opportunity or the ability to speak and to lead and they weren’t stepping on people’s toes. Our guys are a very close group and they don’t want to do anything to provide any chinks in the order of balance here. So I felt like pushing two more people into that role was the easiest way to catapult or provide a catalyst for more vocal and lead by example-type stuff.”
John’s Hobart career had been consistently sidetracked by injuries of his own. He missed his entire freshman year (2014) and scored three goals in nine games as a sophomore (2015). Then, another setback with just four point-free appearances in 2016. Injuries played a part again, but he also had a bigger off-field development: John became a father to a daughter, Kinsley John, who will turn 2 next month. Kinsley and her mother, John’s girlfriend, were back home last season.
“Being away from them was tough,” John said. “Everything just kind of fell where I didn’t want it to. I was in a bit of a valley, I climbed my way back onto the second line or third line, right there, scratching the surface and I come back out and I twisted my ankle or something. It was always something that was pulling me back down.”
John has contributed in all 11 games this season, marking 12 points on nine goals (sixth on the team) and three assists. Raymond thinks it’s a result of both his durability and peace of mind.
“He’s done a better job in taking care of his body, he’s done a better job of getting treatment, hydrating, sleeping, whatever he’s doing, he’s been on the field,” Raymond said. “Second, I know Kinsley’s in town now. He was going back and forth to home and to college last year, which is a difficult thing to do.
“Having a kid in college and being a Division I athlete is ... I can’t even imagine, I can’t speak to what it’s been like, I can only just assume it’s very difficult. I think having her here and having his girlfriend here, Kinsley’s mother, has made a world of difference. He’s been able to head there right after practice and know that they’re there. I just think it’s given him peace of mind and it’s allowed him to devote a little bit more time to performing well on the lacrosse field.”
While he still has another year of eligibility via a redshirt, John knows this is likely his last year, finishing up his four-year degree. That’s pushed him to finish his college career well and leave an example for future Statesmen.
“I’m finishing up college and probably going to go on and start working,” he said, “so just coming in knowing that you’re a senior and that you have freshmen that don’t know anything really coming in and just setting that example for them, working hard every day, showing up, doing the right things, taking care of the ball on offense, knowing slide packages on defense, so really just holding myself more accountable.”
Brown, despite a body Raymond said is “mess right now,” scored his 100th career goal Saturday in overtime at Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. Brown now has 18 goals and 12 assists on the year. He’s the team’s best player, Raymond said, and a fine leader.
“Those two guys are just so strong-willed and have been so trusting in me,” Raymond said of Brown and John. “I just love the two guys to death and they’re amazing young men.”
Brown earned a “Prime Performer” recognition from the Northeast Conference (NEC) for his work last week. Since Hobart became a D-I team, Brown is 11th in career points (100), tied for ninth in career goals (67), and tied for 12th in career assists (33).
John watched the winner from the end of the bench at Saint Joe’s, having just finished the shift before in regulation.
“I saw him catch the ball and I knew immediately that he was going to finish it,” John said. “I just remember running out there and we gave each other hugs and he was like, ‘I love you’ and I was like, ‘I love you too, man,’ because we’ve been playing together since we’ve been like eight years old, little brothers, so it was awesome.”
“He moved away his junior and senior year, he played at Silver Creek, but we came here, we were roommates for two years and we go home, we hang out, we go to concerts, he’s over here for dinner maybe two, three nights a week hanging out with me, my girlfriend, my daughter and our other friend Jackson.”
Hobart made the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2004. Despite a 5-6 record (2-1 Northeast Conference), they still could do it again. Just two days removed from losing a rivalry game against Syracuse, Hobart needed that win against Saint Joe’s to get above .500 in the NEC (2-1). The Statesmen have three NEC games left starting Saturday at noon at Bryant and could still host the four-team conference tournament if they earn the No. 1 seed.
“We set goals and all the goals that we have set, they’re still attainable for us,” John said. “Our main goal is to win the NEC and host the NEC.
“Record-wise it hasn’t gone as planned but I mean everything that we set out to do, it’s still right there where we can still reach it.”
(Salamanca Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)