Highland Park’s lacrosse program has always been strong within Texas, but only recently has it started turning heads nationwide.
In a sport that has deep roots on both coasts, HP alumni are starting to pepper the rosters of some of the country’s top programs.
The latest step in that progression came in November, when the program saw five seniors either sign or commit to play with Division I programs beginning in 2018.
“When you look at the quality of the program, we’ve got the sticks in the right kids’ hands, and we can play with anybody,” said HP lacrosse coach Derek Thomson. “It’s really helping with the youth numbers because they see they can get scholarships. Lacrosse is a good career path.”
Two of the honorees — dual-sport athletes Jack Kozmetsky and Parker Alexander — signed with defending national champion North Carolina, where former HP standout Case Carpenter already is on the roster.
Among their teammates, Owen Seebold signed with Syracuse, Chris Walker signed with Georgetown, and Kyle Massimilian committed to Harvard.
Other HP athletes recognized for signing during the NCAA fall signing period included volleyball player Jordan Westendorff (TCU), girls basketball player Morgan Smith (SMU), and rower McKenna Michels (Texas).
Seebold said he has dreamed of playing for Syracuse, where his father, Bob, was a key member of the school’s national title team in 1983.
“He’s been the driving force behind all of my success,” Owen said. “I’ve always wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps but I also want to make my own legacy. I want to lead them to another national championship.”
Walker said Georgetown provides the right balance of athletics and academics, even though it wasn’t on his radar until the school’s coaches showed interest during a fall tournament.
“During my first visit, I knew it was the place for me,” Walker said. “It’s a rising program, and I wanted to be a part of what they had going on.”
At Harvard, Massimilian will join an Ivy League tradition in his family. His father attended Yale and his older brother is at Cornell.
“I fell in love with it,” Massimilian said of Harvard, where he’ll play alongside former HP standout Robert Mencke. “I knew how great of an academic school it was, so I pursued it relentlessly.”
Westendorff’s dominance on the volleyball court earned her offers to take the court for some top college programs. But she’ll instead pursue her passion for beach volleyball at TCU. The Horned Frogs recently joined a growing trend of schools adding the sport.
“I love the beach game and how much it’s evolving,” said Westendorff, who has played in summer beach volleyball tournaments in California for the past five years. “I enjoy being outside in the sun.”
As for Smith, the versatile guard won’t even need to leave the Park Cities to join the first recruiting class of new SMU women’s basketball coach Travis Mays.
“It’s close to home, and I’m really excited to play at the next level,” Smith said. “They’re starting a new era and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”