Salisbury School and the New England Prep West I League

By Ryan Rohde

The United States is known as the great melting pot, as people from across the globe come to America for a new beginning. New England was at the forefront of the earliest immigration to this country and now serves as the "melting pot" for high school lacrosse.

The New England Prep West I league is just one of the beneficiaries of this movement. For proof of this, take a look at any of the rosters of the teams in this league. The Salisbury School in Connecticut is full of talent from across the nation, and Canada as well. The Crimson Knights feature players from Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida and three players from Ontario. Student-athletes from far and wide don't just attend these schools for athletics, but for the overall experience.

"These kids come for the environment," Salisbury head coach Bobby Wynne said. "We (Salisbury) and the other schools in this league try to provide fertile ground for the student-athletes academically, socially and athletically."

This migration of great student-athletes to New England has created one of the most competitive leagues in the country. Deerfield, Avon Old Farms and Choate, to name a few, have long produced top college talent. Brodie Merrill is just one recent alumnus from the Salisbury School to have a great college and pro career.

The NE West I runs deep with talent, but there is one setback: there is no postseason tournament for these schools. Graduation dates and school schedules make it difficult to have playoffs. The league winners are decided on overall record.

This fact, however, does not deter from the quality of play.

"These kids are motivated and love to compete," Wynne said of the league play. "There are so many traditional rivalries and these games take on a life of their own."

The competition is easy to see. Salisbury currently has an 11-1 record and is coming off a 7-6 victory over then-undefeated Deerfield. The Crimson Knights found themselves down 6-2 at halftime before shutting the door on the Deerfield offense and coming out with the one-goal win. Wynne gives credits to seniors Cameron Mann, Cameron Flint, and Will Casertano. These three have provided leadership that has been invaluable to the teams' success.

Success is something that does not come easy for any program, especially playing in NE West I. Every team in the league has talent, but talent does not always win titles. Each school is in the same boat--there are players that have been at the school since freshman year while others attend for one post-grad year.

The hurdle these coaches need to get over is having all these players play as a team.

"All these teams have talent," Wynne said. "We have spent more time on team chemistry than anything else. What is good about Salisbury and the other schools is that they are small enough that the kids build camaraderie with one another."

It is that closeness that binds these schools together.

"This league is filled with so many tremendous coaches and people," Wynne said. "There are no words to describe the people that make this league work."

It is also a main reason why year in and year out, these programs are among the tops in the nation. The players buy into the system and want to carry the torch that the alumni left for them. Wynne emphasized that "tradition never graduates," a motto he has instilled in his program.

It is the tradition of The NE West I that attract student-athletes from all walks of life.

2009-05-15



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