Bryce Henise is always playing.
Whether it’s on the gridiron in the fall, on the court in the winter or on the field in the spring and summer, the three-sport athlete keeps himself busy.
However, the senior does have a true love among his three sports — football, basketball and lacrosse.
“I fell in love with lacrosse right away,” said Henise, who started playing when he was 8 years old.
Now, Henise will likely get four more years to play lacrosse following the midfielder’s commitment to NCAA Division I Robert Morris University earlier this month.
“It might be one of those things where I’m going to miss football and basketball at first, but I am really excited to see what the next level can be for me if I just focus on one sport,” Henise said. “I can’t wait to devote all my time into my craft of lacrosse.”
Robert Morris’ coaches probably agree with Henise. The program’s Twitter account said: “Let's see what happens when he puts down the pigskin/rock and picks up a stick” to announce his commitment.
Why RMU?: The Colonials are coming off their best season in the program’s 13-year history.
Robert Morris defeated St. Joseph’s 9-8 in overtime to win the Northeast Conference title and advance to its first NCAA tournament. The Colonials played close with top-seeded Maryland, losing 14-11 after taking a 6-3 lead into halftime.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Eastern head coach Aaron Bankowski said. “He’s such a great kid. They’re getting a great talent. He gets to extend his career, and it’s just awesome that we can have a kid who is going to an up-and-coming school.”
Henise said when he visited the campus in suburban Pittsburgh that he felt the team atmosphere was one that fit him well.
“When I first met their coach, he was explaining the team was one big family,” Henise said. “That sounds like something I would like to be involved (with). I am going to spend all four years of my college years ... building that bond with those guys.”
Academically, Henise will study sports management, saying that he doesn’t know exactly what he wants to do after he graduates, but he knows he wants to be involved in sports.
“They have one of the best sports management programs in the nation,” Henise said. “My whole life I’ve been really a sports guru kind of guy. I can do sports management, and it’s widespread. This gives me a lot of different opportunities.”
Three-sport athlete: Henise, who played wide receiver for the football team his freshman and senior seasons and has been a guard on the basketball team all four years, said playing other sports has helped him as a lacrosse player.
“My first love when I was little was football. I loved the contact and being able to walk out on the field and hit someone. And then my family is big into basketball, so I played that when I was young,” Henise said. “When I was introduced to lacrosse, it was a mixture of both. You mix the contact aspect of football and the IQ and seeing the field aspect of basketball. Playing both of those sports helped me grow as a lacrosse player.”
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 170-pound midfielder led the Golden Knights in scoring last season, posting 41 goals and 17 assists.
On the gridiron, Henise caught 12 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown for Eastern’s potent offense and led the team in tackles with 84. So far this season for the basketball team, Henise is scoring just under 10 points per game for the 17-3 Golden Knights.
Lacrosse development: Bankowski, who is entering his second season at the helm but has coached at Eastern for Henise’s whole career, said his star player has grown tremendously in his high school career.
“We’ve had players who were really good and get better, but they plateau,” Bankowski said. “Bryce hasn’t. He’s grown each year, and his IQ has gone through the roof."
With several young players in the program, Bankowski said it’s helped to have a next-level player such as Henise to show his teammates what it takes to succeed.
“He tries to get the best out of everybody,” Bankowski said. “He’s not afraid to step in. You can always see when he’s playing, his mind is always searching and watching. Being a young head coach, it helps to have a kid of that caliber.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.