This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published June 29, 2022
A lifelong soccer player, Michael Kollmer decided to try something new and join the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team as a sophomore last spring. Michael had limited experience in lacrosse, but it didn’t take long for the sport to make an impact on him or for Michael to make an impact with the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse squad. In his junior season, Michael earned All-Shoreline Conference honors and was named one of the team’s captains heading into his senior year.
Michael has been competing for the Valley boys’ soccer team since his freshman year at the high school. Heading into his sophomore campaign, Michael was convinced by his friend Cooper Strecker, who was a senior captain this season, to give lacrosse a shot. Michael decided to try it out and, once he hit the field, Michael had a feeling that he had never felt while playing sports before.
“It was a new feeling in a sport. Soccer is a much different game. There are times when it gets slow,” says Michael. “Lacrosse is back-and-forth every second. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I really had fun with it.”
While making the transition, Michael found that his years of playing soccer helped him get adjusted to lacrosse. With his speed and endurance, Michael had no problem running up and down the field.
Michael had an opportunity to show his skills when he saw varsity minutes as a defensive midfielder in his sophomore year with the lacrosse team. Having never played high school lacrosse, Michael says that it was surreal when he competed in his first varsity game.
“It was nerve-wracking to say the least,” Michael says. “I never really knew the sport growing up. Hopping into my first varsity game and getting a few minutes, it was a surreal moment.”
Michael dedicated himself to lacrosse during the summer heading into his junior year at Valley. Michael and a few friends would go to the high school several times a week to get in some passes and become more comfortable with the game. He may have been new the sport, but if Michael was going to play, he wanted to be good.
“Whenever I take on something new, I always try to do it to the best of my ability. Lacrosse was something I never really did before. I never took it seriously,” says Michael. “Between that sophomore and junior season, something really clicked with me. I thought I could really grow in this sport. It switched up for me mentally. I started focusing on it.”
Michael also had to prepare for a larger role on the Warriors this year. Valley had graduated numerous seniors and, now a junior, he needed to take on more responsibility. Michael moved from defense to offense and was tasked with leading Valley’s offensive midfield corps. Michael responded in a big way by scoring a team-high 32 goals.
“It was a big adjustment going from a couple passes a game sophomore year to really moving around the offense this year,” Michael says. “The first few games were a little nerve-wracking, but once I got comfortable, it all clicked. It became pretty normal.”
As he was scoring all of those goals, Michael saw the team around him getting stronger in terms of both its play and the chemistry. Michael and his teammates became brothers by the end of the year, and his relationships with those teammates showed Michael why he truly loves lacrosse.
“It was a really fun season. We bonded over the season. We became a family,” Michael says. “It was no longer a team. It was a family bond. I will remember this team forever. It was a great group of kids.”
Michael came away from his junior campaign with a major accolade when he was named to the All-Shoreline Conference Second Team as a midfielder. Michael wasn’t thinking about winning any awards when he first picked up his lacrosse stick, but garnering All-Conference honors showed him just how far he’s come.
“It was pretty big. It was a great honor,” says Michael, who also made the All-Conference Second Team as a forward in soccer last fall. “I never really expected to get many awards for lacrosse, I was just playing for fun. Getting that award was pretty honorable.”
Michael’s teammate Ben Costanzo was selected to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team this season. Michael, Costanzo, and Leif Duval will be serving as Valley’s senior captains next year. Costanzo grew up playing soccer with Michael and says that their bond as only grown stronger through lacrosse.
“I’ve played soccer with him since we were 12, and he has always been a great athlete. He’s only played lacrosse for two seasons, but you’d think he has been playing his whole life,” Costanzo says. “Mike and Leif are great leaders, and it will be awesome to get a chance to be a captain with them.”
Michael feels proud to have earned the title of captain. Michael always idolized the upperclassmen who took him under his wing and helped him become the lacrosse player that he is today. Now wearing the captain’s hat himself, Michael hopes to provide the same type of leadership that impacted him as he was rising up the ranks.
“I was very honored to be named a captain. I just hope I can help some of the underclassmen how the upperclassmen did to me,” says Michael. “I want to make sure they fall in love with the sport like I did. I want to make sure they feel welcomed, so they could be brought up just like how I was.”
Michael wants to help the Warriors take a Shoreline Conference title back to Valley Regional in his senior season. As Valley gets ready to pursue that goal, Michael feels excited to compete alongside a group of teammates who make him feel proud to call himself a lacrosse player.
“It’s amazing. I’ve met new friends that are now some of my closest friends,” Michael says. “I would have never known them if I didn’t play lacrosse. Now that I have, it’s really amazing. It’s amazing what a sport could do.”