After a slow start, the Vestal boy’s lacrosse team has now won three-straight games, and four of their last five.

A big reason behind that turnaround is my Athlete of the Week.    

“He’s just such a threat with the ball. He’s extremely fast. Good with both hands,” says Head Coach Chris Dutkowsky.

Out on the field, with a lacrosse stick in hand, Vestal senior JT Stirpe is exactly as his coach described him, a threat.

Stirpe is in his final season as a Golden Bear.

But, between this season and years past, opposing teams know him, and more importantly, respect him.

“He’s such a threat with it, he’s been getting shut off, like completely locked off the last few games. In almost every game, at one point, he’s been locked off. Which is a lot of respect to him from other teams. That doesn’t usually happen in a high school game.”

Despite being taken out of the game by the defense, Stirpe keeps his head up and continues to do what he can to help the team.

He knows that gives everyone else on his team opportunities, and that type of positive attitude is something that Vestal head coach Chris Dutkowsky has taken notice of.

“His maturity has shown. He’s much more patient if he is getting shut off. He’s doing what we ask him to do. A ball goes out of bounds, he’ll pick it up and things like that. Like I said, his patience, it’s been a lot better this year. And because of that, he’s ending up getting, he’s getting more chances to shoot and score, and make other people more successful.”

JT’s maturity, talent, and respect level led to him being selected as a captain this year, a responsibility that he says he doesn’t take lightly.

“It’s definitely nice. But, it’s a pretty big responsibility. You’ve just got to gather everyone together, and make sure everyone’s doing the right things in practice, and keep the intensity up throughout the games,” Stirpe said.

The respect that JT has garnered from not only his teammates, but also opponents and coaches, comes from years and years of practice and training.

“I started playing lacrosse at a young age. My parents have always been supportive of me. They took me to prospect camps and recruiting tournaments, and everything’s been good.”

Well, all those camps helped JT get recruited to play Division I lacrosse at Syracuse next year, something Stirpe says is a dream come true.

“Syracuse is close to home. It’s a good lacrosse school. And, definitely, the education is really good. It was always just my dream. I would always go up to the games when I was young and just be like ‘Oh, it would be awesome to play there one day’. Ever since then, I just strived to just do the best I could, and then it finally came true.”

While JT will accomplish his goal this fall, he still has the rest of this season with Vestal.

In the meantime, he and his brother Zach have already made one of their parents dreams come true.

“It’s great, it’s great. It was always one of our parents dreams to see if both brothers could be on the field together. It’s nice because he’s on defense, and I’m on offense. So, if he ever gets a chance to swing it up to me and create some offense, it would be great to see.”

You can see if JT and Zach can make that connection in their next game when the Golden Bears face Binghamton on Thursday at Alumni Stadium.