Lacrosse Captain to Defend New Territory

by Adam Prescott

This spring, in just its fourth season, the Otterbein University men's lacrosse program has its sights set on breaking through and receiving its first NCAA Tournament bid.

The Cardinals are looking to build off a promising campaign in 2012, with head coach Colin Hartnett returning almost every key contributor to the lineup ... . almost.

If you visit Memorial Stadium to watch a game this coming season, one player you won't see is No. 4 Steve Resch. A three-year team captain and starting defenseman, Resch will be missing his senior season after learning that his United States Army Reserves unit will be deploying to Afghanistan this spring.

"It's going to be really hard not being there with the guys," said Resch, who will work overseas as a military police officer. "I've put three years of work in to help build the program and get that NCAA patch, but I'm still so excited for this team and the opportunity ahead. I'm happy I was able to mentor some of the underclassmen as much as I could before leaving."

A two-time All-Ohio selection from Gahanna Lincoln High School, Resch was Hartnett's first-ever recruit after his hiring in November of 2008. The first-year coach had many more parts to assemble from there, but had found his centerpiece.

Resch led the team with 81 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers during the team's inaugural season, and has been part of a nucleus that's seen the program go from four wins in 2010 to nine victories last year.

"I named him a captain as a freshman and he immediately approached it with the maturity of a veteran," Hartnett said of Resch. "He was a great defender and an enormous part of our early success. To take a team from 4-11 to 9-6 can't be done without great leadership."

Resch and his parents sat down after his freshman year, discussing topics ranging from financial aid to his future beyond Otterbein. Amidst the discussion, Resch couldn't help but think of his childhood vision to serve in the Army.

He soon went to Hartnett's office to explain his plan, unsure of the reaction that would follow. After all, the possibility of having to replace a top player prematurely could weigh heavy on any coach.

"Coach Hartnett has been a model of understanding through all of this," Resch explained. "Since the day I met with the Army recruiter, he has never tried to talk me out of it and was quick to see my point of view from both the financial and patriotic sides. He's been nothing but 100 percent supportive."

Resch was forced to miss his 2011 fall semester to attend basic training, but his support group at Otterbein knew he wouldn't miss a beat.

"You only need to meet the Resch family once to understand where his high character comes from," Hartnett said. "Steve expects more from himself than anyone, so we knew he would come back ready to play after that semester off. The guys on the team have always been supportive of Steve and nobody questions his decisions. I think his skills as a leader only grew from there."

Before learning that his reserve unit would be deployed, Resch was geared up for one final go-around with his teammates. He was especially excited to share one last run with the "original guys", the name for Resch and fellow pioneers Mike Spatafore, Adam Hatchard, Juan Contreras, Jake Ritzenthaler, and Graham Shippy.

"We all came into this together, and Steve and I have been each other's right-hand man for three years now," said Spatafore, who has also been Resch's roommate. "It's going to be a lot different when he's not around. The circumstances are unfortunate, but he's a pioneer of this program and none of this could have been done without him."

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