What could possibly be better in kicking off a new season by celebrating last year’s national championship?
That’s what the Dowling College lacrosse players did last week when players, coaches, families, friends an alumni were invited to the Timber Point Country Club in Long Island, N.Y. for their ring ceremony.
Former Peabody High lacrosse player Chris Diantgikis, a senior captain for the Golden Lions, said the players knew they were going to get rings, but had no idea how stunning they would be.
“That ring is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold,” said Diantgikis, a defenseman who helped Dowling defeat Limestone (S.C.) University, 11-10, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to capture the Division 2 NCAA championship last spring.
“The coaches were pretty hush-hush about the rings even though we kept asking about them. The college didn’t spare any expense, and we were all surprised when we finally got a look at them.”
The Golden Lions, currently the top ranked team in Division 2 in Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason ratings, also got gold NCAA watches, rain-repellent NCAA jackets (with a championship patch on the sleeve), hats and T-shirts after winning the championship.
“Winning the national championship is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was seven years old,” said Diantgikis, now 22. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches at Peabody: Kevin Houlden, Tony O’Donnell, and all my former teammates.”
Dowling’s first game will be a rematch with Limestone in South Carolina before beginning a four-game homestand. “I’m sure they’ll be waiting for us,” said Diantgikis. “We’re all very excited to start off with them.
“We lost 12 seniors from last year, so we’re reloading. This season is going to be a very good one because we’re got a lot of talented players along with some good looking freshmen. We only have four seniors and we’re all captains, along with two juniors. We’re all on the same page trying to help the younger kids.”
Dowling head coach Tim Boyle (named Division 2 Coach of the Year in 2012) and his captains led the team in an effort to help the Long Island community recover from the devastating damage all around them in the wake of Hurricane Sandy fall.
“We’d cut out our Friday lifting and practice short so we could get up at 5 a.m. Saturday to help the fire department rip up carpeting and tear down the remains of houses,” said Diantgikis. “With 40-plus guys working together, we were able to knock out a house in about 20 minutes. Everybody came together and while some places are still bad, there’s a lot of rebuilding going on.
“We did whatever we could. You’d drive down a street, turn a corner and see a tremendous amount of destruction. There were boats washed up in people’s backyards and houses ripped apart. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Our coaches got a lot of thank you cards from people that we helped, and we invited families to come to see a game (and) enjoy tailgating with our fans,” added Diantgikis. “Our team put on a free lacrosse clinic for local kids, and we were surprised to be asked for our autographs.”
Diantgikis said he enjoyed working with the kids and teaching them the game he loves. He’d like to do more of it in the future.
“I love teaching and want to come back to be a coach at Peabody High, helping Coach Tony out,” he said. “It’s been a great time here at Dowling, with a berth in the Final Four and a national championship. I hope to see it end in Philly this year (site of the 2013 NCAA Championships).”
Bishop Fenwick track coach Jay Smith is scheduled to host a Throwing Camp all day tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (weather pending) with former Olympic medalist and four-time world shot put champ John Godina.
Throwing is something the Crusaders take very seriously and have excelled at in national competition.
“Godina did a coaches seminar last October and was terrific,” said Smith. We expect to have 25-30 kids here from all over working directly with him and his staff.”
For more information or to register go to www.worldthrowscenter.com.
Sean Stellato, the former Salem High star quarterback and current pro player agent, is one of three people being inducted into the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He will inducted at a ceremony and scholarship awards banquet at the Venezia Waterfront Boston on Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m., along with former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi and the 2013 Man of the Year, Frank Privitera. For reservations, contact email@example.com.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.