Mercer Island’s Evan Condon commits to Army for NCAA D1 lacrosse
MERCER ISLAND, Wash. – Mercer Island High School junior Evan Condon has made a verbal commitment to play NCAA Division I lacrosse at the U.S. Military Academy in New York.
With his commitment to Army, Condon becomes the third Washington state high school lacrosse player in the last two years to join the Black Knights and the 22nd from the state this school year to commit to an NCAA lacrosse program.
“The greatest honor as an American is to serve in the military. This means a lot to me. It’s a privilege,” said Condon, who, once on the West Point campus in 2015, will join 2013 Bellevue High School graduates Cole Johnson, who earned an Army roster spot this spring as a freshman, and Dakota Jones who is prepping this fall at West Point Prep, the U.S. Military Academy’s preparatory school.
A two-sport letterman at Mercer Island, the 6-2, 195-pound Condon stands out in lacrosse and wrestling.
As a grappler, Condon is 20-2 on the season in the 195-pound class and his Islanders are just one win, with only rival Bellevue in the way, from securing their fifth consecutive KingCo 3A mat title.
But it’s lacrosse, a game he’s played since the second grade, where Condon has something to prove.
“He’s one of our most focused players,” said Mercer Island boys lacrosse coach Ian O’Hearn. “The second he puts his gear on and steps on the field it’s all business.”
It’s that all-business, no fooling around edge that drives Condon, not just as a junior hungry for a second shot at a Washington state title this spring, but as a talented athlete ready to prove that he belongs among Army’s talent-rich pool of mostly East Coast student athletes. A group that in just two years he he will join in lacing up cleats for action on Blaik Field at Michie Stadium on the banks of the Hudson River.
With raw talent, size and stick skills at his disposal, it’s his reputation as a feared mat man among the WIAA KingCo Conference wrestlers that is the X-factor in his lacrosse game.
“I play with grit,” Condon said. “It comes down to who wants to win more. You play this game to win.”
Condon accepted an offer to play at Army following an official visit to the West Point, N.Y. campus last week. After following up with Black Knights coach Joe Alberichi, Condon was presented with the opportunity to play at West Point — and to serve.
“Coach Alberichi asked me if I liked the school and could see myself serving our country. I was pretty overwhelmed,” said Condon who originally showed interest in Navy’s lacrosse program, which has actively been recruiting Washington state lacrosse players, along with several other NCAA programs.
“The (Army) coaching staff saw me as a good fit for the program,” he said.
And Condon, whose grandfather once served as a paratrooper in the prestigious 101st Airborne, found a similar attachment to West Point after Islanders assistant Kevin Mincio introduced him to the Black Knights coaching staff.
Learning his trade behind three of the stronger midfielders to play all time at Mercer Island, Condon managed 14 points (9g, 5a) and 23 ground balls as a sophomore last spring — with minimal game time.
For Condon, seeing action behind seasoned Islanders midfielders Hayden Reisman, Steen Swedstedt, who will play this spring for NCAA Div. II Wingate University, and senior Peter Mahony, who has verbally committed to NCAA Div. I Yale, was not just an opportunity to study the best, but put an edge, and some polish on his own game.
“I have a chip on my shoulder,” said Condon whose Islanders squad finished 20-3-0 last spring but fell short to rival Bellevue High School in the state championship game.
And Condon knows that not just athletics, but academics, vital to the success of all West Point cadets, will play a role in his success.
A National Honor Society member with a 3.7 GPA at Mercer Island, Condon is readying to take on some of the brightest academic minds in the nation.
Loaded up with senior course work in honors chemistry, AP US History, French, Algebra II, and Marketing, all while performing with the school’s Steel Drum Band and honing leadership skills while coaching third graders in the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club “Little Dribblers” basketball program, Condon is well prepared.
Learning lacrosse in Mercer Island’s deep youth program, which rivals many of the state’s top little league baseball and youth football structures, Condon has known since eighth grade, when his undefeated youth team won the Greater Eastside Lacrosse League title, that he was destined to play at the NCAA level.
And according to O’Hearn who as Islanders head coach keeps an eye on talent approaching the high school level, the potential is there to not just play, but to stand out.
“He’s aggressive and doesn’t back down from any defenseman,” O’Hearn said. “With his size and athleticism — and some seasoning, he’ll have an opportunity to work his way into an offensive middie’s role at Army.”
But once 2,900 miles away at West Point, the humble Islander only wants to prove that high school student-athletes from Washington state can keep up with the best on the East Coast.
Historically, he’s in elite company.
In 2015, Condon will become the eighth student-athlete from Washington state since 1965 to play lacrosse at Army according to West Point sports information records. And since 1943, he will become just the 56th from the state to have played any sport for the Black Knights.
“If you’re good enough you can make it,” said Condon who sees West Point simply as a proving ground of who wants to win more.
“As a West Coast kid I just want to get there and show that I can keep up with everyone,” he said. “I want to make the biggest impact that I can.”
To learn more about student-athletes from Washington state high schools committing to NCAA and NAIA lacrosse programs during the 2013-14 academic year, visit: http://www.washingtonhslax.com/media-center/2013-ncaa-commitments/
About Lacrosse in Washington State
Lacrosse has over 100 years of history in Washington state with clubs playing in the early 1900s and high schools now in their fourth decade of state competition. With Native American origins, lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports on the continent and today is considered the fastest growing sport in America. In Washington state, some 4,000 student-athletes attending over 200 high schools play prep lacrosse, while another 6,000 play lacrosse at the youth, adult and collegiate club levels throughout the state. For more information on high school lacrosse in Washington state visit http://www.WashingtonHSLAX.com.
~ Mike McQuaid, Sports Information Director, US Lacrosse – Washington State Chapter