The 10th annual Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game is gearing up for another run, set to take place on July 3 at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.
The best-of-the-best high school lacrosse players, 88 to be exact, will earn the sport's most prestigious honor as an Under Armour All-American. The University of Maryland will be represented by three men and five women in the two evening games.
This is part three of a series profiling the future Terp men participants.
Midway through his freshman lacrosse season at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa., Curtis Zappala suffered a severe concussion that nearly ended his promising career. Zappala still has no recollection of the hit he took. He only understands the play from watching the game tape several months later.
“It was nightmare situation for me watching it all happen on tape because I don’t remember a thing,” said Zappala. “I had never been hurt before and I always attacked the cage with my head down just trying to get my shot.”
Zappala dodged from the goal line extended and tried to get underneath his defender coming around the cage. With no clear look, Zappala tried to go over the top with a shot but the defender hit him high, knocking Zappala to the ground with his helmet rolling across the field. It was reported that the freshman attackman was unresponsive for three minutes.
“I think this whole thing has made me a tougher and smarter player,” said Zappala. “I definitely don’t head into contact with my head down.”
One of Zappala’s doctors helped to ensure that he understood the severity of what happened when he said that another vicious hit like that could end his lacrosse career, and cause permanent damage.
“I never even thought before that I could get seriously hurt. I was just a freshman and I’ve always played the game that way,” he said. “But after it happened, everything fell into perspective for me.”
The long recovery period included no television, computers, phone or other electronic devices until his headaches stopped. It wasn’t until mid-summer until Zappala was able to get his life back to some sort of normalcy. In fact, he needed a couple more months to get back into competitive lacrosse play.
“During those weeks when I really couldn’t do anything I had some doubts about me playing again,” he said. “I never thought I would lose the love for the game but I just didn’t know if I would be able to play hard like I did before the concussion.”
Zappala definitely got bigger, stronger and a lot smarter about the contact part of the sport.
Zappala has since committed to Maryland to play lacrosse, and will represent the Terps as an Under Armour All-American in the game next month.
“It was right before my sophomore season when Coach John Tillman made me the offer,” he said. “I really only had scheduled visits to North Carolina but I had visited Denver and was talking with Virginia and Duke. I knew Maryland was the right decision, especially after I made my visit down there and talked with the staff and the professors. And Coach Tillman is a first class person and who wouldn’t want to play for him.”
With his concussion in the rearview mirror, Zappala had a stellar senior season for Coach Andy Hayes. He was credited with 44 goals, 37 assists and 84 groundballs, leading his team to a 14-7 record. His 244 career points are a school record.
Zappala was a three-time All-Pennsylvania selection and was ranked the number four recruit this year.
Zappala is familiar with the Under Armour All-America Game as he played in the Underclass Tournament as a junior, and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
“I remember always going down there to watch the games because my brother was playing in tournaments. There were a couple of times I had to watch the game on TV, though. I mean, being named to the team is surreal. It was a dream of mine but I really didn’t picture myself getting selected.”
For game information visit underarmourlacrosse.com
Meet Terps Lacrosse Signee/UA AA Zappala
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