After being injured his freshman season, Lakeside High School’s Bryant McIlwain quickly made an impression his sophomore and junior years.
That led to McIlwain signing a letter of intent to play lacrosse for Division II Young Harris College (Young Harris, Ga.) Thurs-day afternoon.
While he has his senior year ahead, he realized what the signing meant.
“You’re going to college, this is it, no more high school,” he said. “This is it, this is a guaranteed spot. There’s no turning back. It’s definitely a good thing.”
Playing offensive and defensive middie the past two years, the Panthers’ team captain will join the Mountain Lions currently in its second year as an intercollegiate program and play the same position.
“I was looking at Hunt-ingdon in Alabama and a few other schools, not even for lacrosse, like Georgia Southern,” McIlwain said. “But then I realized after the coach called me that I really wanted to play lacrosse. Young Harris was my main choice. I love the mountains, good scenery. I knew the coach from mutual friends, he coached one of my best friends (at Shorter University).”
After missing his freshman year, spending it learning the game as a manager, he impressed Panthers coach Ron Ritter. “He came back after injury and worked all summer and made varsity the next year,” said Ritter. “That says something about his dedication.”
McIlwain said lacrosse came to him naturally.
“That and I hang out with a lot of the good players on the team and I always run against them in practice,” said McIlwain.
“That’s where it helped me a lot, going against the best players I could. I embarrassed myself a lot, too. That’s where you become really good. If you’re too scared to do something, you’re not going to progress.”