In Pennsylvania, lacrosse players are familiar with playing in bad weather.
Early-season practices and games are often held in sub-50-degree temperatures. It’s not until May when the weather usually improves, and by then, the high school season is nearly over.
York Catholic seniors Cole Witman and Drew Snelbaker, however, won't have to worry too much about the cold or snow when they reach the next level.
The two lacrosse standouts have both now committed to the University of Tampa, an NCAA Division II school in balmy Florida.
“When I went down there and saw the campus, I wasn’t expecting how nice it was,” said Snelbaker, who committed to Tampa over the summer. “It was really nice, especially compared to here when we have the snowy practices at the beginning of the season that we all hate.”
Change for Witman: Witman, who was a first-team York-Adams League all-star last season, previously was verbally committed to NCAA Division I powerhouse Johns Hopkins. In a tweet last Saturday, Witman announced his change of heart and his commitment to Tampa.
“After many months of thinking long and hard with my family about my future academically and athletically,” Witman said in the tweet, “I have come to the realization that my desire to play at the highest level just isn’t there anymore.”
Witman, who also excelled on the football field for the Irish, said the most important thing for his college choice is being “happy,” and he believes Tampa gives him that opportunity.
“That’s not the route that I wanted to take,” he said about playing high-level D-I lacrosse. “The way I felt down at Tampa is somewhere I want to be. I felt happy.”
York Catholic head coach Shane Harper said being a Hopkins lacrosse recruit adds “a lot of pressure.”
“Going to somewhere like Tampa is a little easier than going to somewhere like Hopkins,” Harper said. “Going to D-II school like Tampa, they’ll get a lot of opportunities to play right away. The last thing you want is to sit for three years and then get one year of playing time.”
Joining forces in Tampa: Harper believes it will help both Witman and Snelbaker to have a friend who is also going to college away from home.
“They have someone to lean on and rely on,” Harper said. “When Drew’s taking the face off and Cole’s on the wing, there’s no second thoughts there.”
“I think it’ll be good being so far away from home to have someone you went to high school with,” Witman said. “It should be an easy transition into college.”
York Catholic duo: Harper said Witman and Snelbaker, who are both captains this season, are “great leaders on and off the field.”
Witman, who played his first two seasons at Eastern York before transferring to York Catholic, was a midfielder in his first season with the Irish last year. Snelbaker said what makes Witman a special player is his ability to play multiple positions.
“You can put him anywhere on the field,” Snelbaker said. “He can play defensive (midfield), offensive (midfield) or attack, and he’ll dominate wherever he is.”
Harper and Witman both said Snelbaker, who was a second-team all-star last season, is the best face-off specialist in the league.
“He’s dominant,” Witman said. “To be able to have the ball every single possession because of him winning the face off will help us put the ball back into the goal. When we play those teams with high-powered offenses, it’ll help that he’s winning those face offs.”
Season goals: The Irish won the Y-A League tournament last season and made it to the PIAA Class 2-A semifinals.
York Catholic lost three starters from last year’s team — Dimitri Amalfitano, Mark Shelley and Kyle Dormer. The Irish bring in junior attack Ryan McGuinness from Red Land High School.
“This year we want to win the district and get to the state championship,” Witman said.
Hake, Hornberger commit to Florida Tech: Witman and Snelbaker aren’t the only two York Catholic lacrosse players who are going south for college.
Senior attack Chandler Hake committed to NCAA Division II Florida Institute of Technology. Hake was a second-team Y-A all-star last season.
Red Lion midfielder Ben Hornberger is also committed to Florida Tech.
The 6-foot, 1-inch midfielder committed in mid-February. He was an honorable mention all-star last season.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.