Zazzara will bring athletic ability to ‘Cuse

Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) junior midfielder J.R. Zazzara factored family in heavily when deciding his collegiate lacrosse future. He discusses that, Syracuse, the recruiting process and who was a major figure in helping him achieve his dreams inside.

For J.R. Zazzara, family was his No. 1 priority when it came to choosing where he would be playing collegiate lacrosse. So, it didn't come as a surprise when the Christian Brothers Academy junior midfielder verbally committed to Syracuse last summer over Johns Hopkins, Loyola and several other smaller Division I schools.

"My whole family has been Syracuse orientated my whole life," he said. "It was mainly a connection thing with Syracuse, not only with athletics and the university itself, but my family is deeply rooted here… all the people I love are here. I really couldn't see myself leaving."

Zazzara credited CBA's boy's varsity head coach and former Syracuse standout, Ric Beardsley, an instrumental figure in the recruiting process and him committing to the Orange. Come summertime, the junior will be playing along some of the best lacrosse talent on Beardsley's Team United traveling team.

"He markets us like he is a salesman," Zazzara said laughing. "He gives us all the opportunities we can ask for."

Zazzara recalls being at the Syracuse Shootout tournament when Syracuse assistant coach Lelan Rogers first saw him play.

"And of course, Ric ran right over to him and said, ‘You have to watch this kid.'"

Zazzara continued, "[Ric] notified me personally and said, ‘I don't want you to go there because I went there, I just want you to do it because I know it would be a great fit for you.'"

The recruiting process for Zazzara happened so quickly. He noted that when he was supposed to visit Johns Hopkins, that's when the communication between him and Syracuse started up.

When he visited the Syracuse campus, it was head coach John Desko who personally took him on a tour of the facilities, too.

With one of the biggest decisions behind him, Zazzara explains that it is a relief knowing where he will be going in a few short years.

"Now it's the time of the year where kids are stressed out with applications," he said. "It's nice to know you have some kind of safety belt. You don't have to worry about college searching, visiting here, visiting there. It's a real relief, definitely."

For now, the junior is busy wrapping up the lacrosse regular season and looking forward to playoffs. His work, however, won't end when the 2013 season concludes; Zazzara will make his second home in the weight room and continue to get better with his stick skills.

"You always need to have a stick in your hand," he said. "Whether it's just walking around the house or watching television, it's a game that's hard to pick up when you're older. It's one of those sports you need to get a feel for and get better."

Beardsley adds, "J.R. is one of the most gifted lacrosse players athletically I have been around in my years of coaching. He will surprise people at the next level because of this. We are lucky to have him on our team and not against us."

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