Bryson Shaw hadn’t even been in high school a month, won’t even see Mount St. Joseph’s (Baltimore, Md.) lacrosse pitch for another six months, but he already knows where he’s going to college. The rising star class of 2019 midfielder committed to Maryland, his hometown school, in early September, which was practically a foregone conclusion after head coach John Tillman began recruiting him last spring.
“Even for lacrosse guys, it’s a little early to be committing [to college],” Shaw acknowledged. “For my class, you’ll see most guys starting to commit like next summer. But I always wanted to represent my state and play for Maryland. And when Maryland came after me I was really excited, because I just always wanted to be a Terp. It was just a great opportunity and I jumped at it.”
The 6-foot, 160-pound Shaw said he’s grown up watching the Terps, attending numerous games in College Park, Md., Baltimore and various other locales. He particularly recalls some of the more heated Maryland-Hopkins showdowns, as well as key matchups against UVA and Duke.
“Maryland was always the program I wanted to see; I went to a bunch of games,” Shaw said. “The game I remember most was when they beat Duke in the semifinals a couple years ago. That was awesome. I love going to see them play.”
Shaw took a different kind of College Park trip earlier in the summer. Along with his father, the budding midfielder met all the Maryland staff members, toured the campus, learned about the school’s academics and met a few current Terps.
Shaw also had an opportunity to see Penn State and North Carolina, two other programs actively recruiting him, but after trekking through UMD his mind was made up.
“I really liked Maryland’s campus, and one thing that really stuck out to me was the academic support there. I really liked that part of it, and I’m thinking about majoring in criminal law or something like that,” Shaw said. “But it was after my first tournament in the summer [the Terps] really started recruited me. Coach Kevin Conry was the one who personally contacted me, and he was great. Then the rest of the staff was great when I met them; they made the process easy, and I loved them. They’re very energetic, they made me feel like family, and they made me feel like a Terp even though I wasn’t committed yet.”
It was a surreal experience for the lifelong Terps fan, who couldn’t have envisioned he’d eventually be suiting up for his favorite team several years ago.
Shaw didn’t grow up in a lacrosse family, but his sister, who is seven years older, picked up the game during her middle school years. Evidently she gave her energetic younger brother an early birthday present when he was five years old, feeding into his early athletics addiction.
“Sports have always been a big part of my life. I played football, I wrestled and I played lacrosse – still do,” Shaw said. “So when my sister gave me a stick, I just loved lacrosse right away. I just loved the idea of the game, the running, how physical it was.”
Shaw began by throwing the ball around with his sister and his friend’s father, his first coach. Then, a year later, he started with the Sykesville Freedom youth-league program, where he learned the game’s basic principles. After three seasons with the Freedom, Shaw joined a club team in Catonsville, Md., for a year before catching on with the renowned Baltimore Crabs as a 10-year old, the program he remains with today.
“Coach Ryan McClernan with the Crabs has really helped me out a lot,” Shaw said. “The thing about the Crabs is they play in very competitive tournaments, so that really helped me just being exposed to a lot of talent. And Coach McClernan, he’s really big on technique and getting the most out of you. He’s really helped me develop.”
While Shaw, who has always been a midfielder, developed quickly, he said lacrosse didn’t become second nature until last spring. He detailed how the game began to slow down for him, while his fundamentals had caught up with his natural talent and athleticism.
“I’d say the championship game last spring with Crabs, that’s when it really clicked for me,” Shaw said. “That’s actually when Maryland saw me and started talking to me. I remember in that game, everything was just so natural, where I didn’t have to think anymore – I just knew what to do. I was picking up a lot of ground balls, just in the flow of the game, shutting down people, and scoring. I made an interception late in the game that really sealed the [outcome].”
Of course, there’s still plenty Shaw has to learn. He hasn’t even played a second of high school lacrosse yet, after all.
Shaw readily admitted he needs to work on his offensive game and become more adept at using his left hand.
“But I’m very tough, I’m going to stick my nose in there and get a ground ball, and I like the ball in my hands late when we’re down,” Shaw said. “I’m pretty fast, I make smart decisions and I’m not selfish. So now it’s just about continuing to get better the next few years.”
The freshman isn’t even thinking about the next stage of his career yet. Right now, he’s concentrating on football, where he’s a quarterback and safety on Mount St. joseph’s varsity. Then during the winter Shaw will take to the wrestling mat, before finally hitting the lacrosse field.
“So far I love high school; it’s been great so far and I love playing football,” said Shaw, who noted how he enjoys playing Madden with his friends during his free time. “I can’t wait to play lacrosse here too. I’d really like to win the Kelly Award, which is given to the best lacrosse player in the MIAA [conference]. That’s the goal I have for my high school career. A lot of great players from this area have won that award, so I’d love to be able to accomplish that at Mount St. Joe’s.”