By Chris Goldberg
Henry Tarr said he had extra motivation coming into Friday’s Victory Events Beast of the East Showcase at Maple Zone Sports Village – an event that came a day after he found out he didn’t make the Team Philly Under Armour squad.
“I made the call back, but Thursday I found out I had not made the team,” said the Hotchkiss School (CT) and Duke’s LC 2021 defenseman/LSM. “That gave me a little bit of extra motivation to play hard in the showcase,” he said. “I was trying my best to prove to myself that I am a good lacrosse player and I wanted to have as much fun as possible and connect with new kids.”
Tarr indeed proved he is a good lacrosse player on Friday, earning the prestigious title of Beast of the East in a field of over 230 players from the East Coast and the Midwest. The strong showing also helped ease the sting of the lost season of 2020 – one that has affected all spring student-athletes.
For Tarr, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed him of his first year at Hotchkiss, a member of the mighty New England West Founders League, which features powers such as Taft School and Avon Old Farms. He had transferred there from Unionville (PA) after his sophomore season.
“I think it (the pandemic) took as much a toll on me as anybody else,” he said. “I was really looking forward to showcasing my abilities at a new school. It’s considered maybe the second best league (New England West 1 also features national powers Salisbury, Deerfield and Brunswick) in the nation with some of the best players in the nation. I wanted to showcase myself not just for recruiting purposes, but also for for my own purposes. But who I really felt bad for were the PGs at Hotchkiss. I became close with six lacrosse PGs and they never got to play at Hotchkiss. I felt for them because they were my first friends on campus.”
Tarr was just getting home for Spring Break when the pandemic called off the season, but he decided to use it as motivation.
“I was already home. We were having Spring Break and I had played basketball in the winter,” he said. “Hotchkiss has a real brotherhood and we had just lost in the championship. On the ride home I was feeling down on myself and a couple days later when we found out this COVID was a real thing and that we were going into lockdown, it was a double whammy.
“All I could do was try and make sure physically and emotionally that I was completely dialed in. I did everything in my power; I was working out two or three times a day, whether in the gym or outside doing footwork. I was doing film with the Hotchkiss coach and film sessions on my own. I did everything in my power to come out on the other side of this brief hiatus from lacrosse and come out as the best version of myself.”
Tarr, playing for the Duke’s LC, got back on track with his club team to open the summer at the NXT Delaware Invitational.
“We had one Dukes practice and there was a lot of rust to shake off,” he said. “I didn’t have anybody to go up against all that time and I am not going to lie but there was a learning curve. We had to get physical and get used to having to put our hands on people. But I think by the end of the second day everybody was feeling a lot better with their ability to play lacrosse.
“I think my confidence definitely is back up there. I am really looking forward to playing more this summer. I realized this is my last summer playing club ball, which is crazy. My confidence is up and I am ready to go full out and have fun with teammates and close friends.”
Next for Tarr and the Dukes is the Baltimore Summer Kickoff this Wednesday and Thurday and then the Liberty National Invitational in Maryland.
Why did he choose to transfer to Hotchkiss?
“It was a multitude of reasons. First off, I got recruited by Coach D (Andrew D’Ambrosio) to play,” Tarr said. “I wanted to become more socially active and Hotchkiss gave me the opportunity to educate myself in areas I would not have been able to pursue at Unionville. It was helpful from an academic lacrosse standpoint and it gave me, as I said before, a chance to prove myself against some of the top competition in the nation.”
Other All-Star player reaction:
Conner Nolt, 2021 MF, Lampeter-Strasburg (PA)
How did you deal with missing the spring season?
Nolt: “It was rough, we we were set up to have a big year. We were pumped, the guys were pumped. It stunk. I tried not to let myself slack. I got into a little routine. I would get up and lift and try to run, eat right, get my nutrition and keep hydration. I was fortunate; my coach gave me a couple balls and a breakdown goal. I would take that goal to the field and maybe get a couple buddies and and shoot around.”
How has your summer gone so far?
Nolt: “This is my first event, I am trying to get every opportunity I can to play. Unfortunately a couple of my other showcases got canceled.”
How did it feel to get out on the field again?
Nolt: “It felt so good. The first game was a little bump in the road. After that we got rolling, and got the chemistry up a bit and got to know each other. It (the heat) cooled down a little. I have to admit I was kind of embarrassed for the first game. I didn’t play too hot; I was a little bit rusty. But the last two games I had fun. I don’t think I was quite at the level I could be at, but I definitely had a lot of fun and these guys had a lot of fun.”
How does the rest of the summer and the recruiting scene look?
Nolt: “I will have a couple of showcases and then some visits. I was definitely ready to start the recruiting process right as the season started. I was looking to have a strong junior year and then do my visits in the summer, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I am still early in the recruiting process and getting visits set up.
Zachary Whalen, 2021 midfielder, Emmaus/Lehigh Valley HEADstrong (PA)
How did you deal with losing the high school season?
Whalen: “We had very high expectations coming in after the (2019) District (11-Class AAA) championship season. I felt worse for the graduating seniors; they got robbed of a season. I was in the gym five times a week. As soon as we heard it was over I started to prepare for next season.”
What went well at Friday’s showcase?
Whalen: “It was my first game, and getting back into it yesterday was good. I had some college coaches reaching out after the game. The showcase is not all about getting goals, it’s about off ball movement, getting the assists. I think they saw that. Our team had good chemistry, everyone was ready to play since this whole thing (called off the season). It was fun, I miss driving long distances to go to tournaments.”
What do you need to work on now?
Whalen: “It’s great to go back. I know last season it was all about confidence. Right now, that’s what I need to get back up. It won’t take that long. I can handle the ball and make the dodge, but I need to know I can do it with confidence in the game.”
HEADstrong rolled in its games Saturday in the 2021 A bracket by a combined 20-2. Why was the team so successful?
Whalen: “We were just so excited to come back out. We had practices and we were eager to come out and play. We got everything set up; we knew what was working and what’s not working and so far everything has been working great.”
Giuseppe Chiovera, 2021 DEF, St. Thomas Academy/Team MN
What went well Friday at the showcase?
Chiovera: “”Thankfully, Team Minnesota has been practicing a good amount. I think it was inevitable to be a little rusty in the first showcase of the year. Things just started to click; we had a really good faceoff guy and a really good keeper. It wasn’t just me; our poles had good communication. I was really lucky to have a good showcase team. As my dad says, ‘You are never as high as you are and never as low as you are.’ I am just looking at our next game; I am excited to do better than yesterday and get better every time out.”
How did you deal with losing your high school season”
Chiovera: “I feel like there were two ways to handle it – dwell on it for more than a week or dwell on it for a day – and then keep working. That’s what I strived to do. It was sad, of course, for my seniors. After that, I was reaching out to my freshmen and sophomores while making sure they were OK. We were expecting a pretty good season. We got fourth in the state the year prior (2019) and we were excited to prove a lot of people wrong this year.”
Where are you in the recruiting process?
Chiovera: “Obviously COVID hit me. It was rough. I was supposed to visit some good schools during Spring Break, but now everything is on hold until I get some film. Hopefully I can make their (coaches) decisions a little bit harder.”
What do you need to work on this summer?
Chiovera: “I need to work on footwork, that’s pretty important to get to the next level. Also, communicating and dealing with the heat. Also, I pulled a hamstring a few weeks ago and I am trying to get that to full strength and get strong again. I just want to be an all around player for my teammates.”
Scott Pfeiffer, 2021 goalie, Wissahickon/Black Bear (PA)
How did you deal with losing the spring season?
Pfeiffer: “It’s like all your work, fall Sunday mornings, winter box lacrosse, and getting out there to see what you are made of – and all of a sudden the plug is pulled within a day. Wow – what could have been. This could have been our year. We had some good kids. I hope to come back next year and make a mark. My heart goes out to seniors who aren’t playing college and had one last run.”
How had the summer gone coming in?
Pfeiffer: “Our first event was at the NXT Invitational; we went 4-0 and played well. Then I tried out for the (Philly team) at Under Armour. I felt I let the pressure get to me. But It was a fun experience and it helepd me for today. Now that I am playing pretty good lacrosse, it makes you think about what could have been in the spring for everyone. Things are picking up and it’s been a lot of fun getting out here and playing.”
What went well at the showcase?
Pfeiffer: “I just think our defense really worked well as a unit. We got to know each other’s names. We started communicating and started working as one unit, That made it easy on all of us. I feel like I am starting to get at the level I was hoping to play during the season – if there was a season. ut there is always next year; we get one last go at.”