Senior Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) faceoff specialist Max Parker's admiration for the Syracuse lacrosse team took on a life of its own after he saw current Orange player, Sergio Salcido, accomplish his dream of suiting up for the Division I powerhouse.
"Ever since he was a little kid he wanted to go to Syracuse," Parker said. "That was his dream. He is a smaller dude, so he had a lot of doubters, but he stuck with his dream and I just realized how precious that dream was."
The budding relationship dates all the way back to youth league and eventually spilled onto the high school scene where the two were molded into fierce competitors.
"We live right down the street from one another," Parker said. "We respect each other a lot. Our high schools are rivals, so we play each other in the big game where everyone comes out to and in the summer, we play club ball. We end up crossing paths in lacrosse all the time."
Salcido's and Parker's paths will cross one more time at Syracuse. Considered one of the top specialists in the country, Parker will look to forge his identity at the next level while Salcido will push to see time on the field for the Orange entering this upcoming season.
His performance against Saint Andrew's School's (Fla.) Grant Mahler (who has since moved onto Cornell) in the championship game ultimately proved beneficial in the end. Articles started popping up all over and Syracuse, almost immediately, took notice.
Parker guided Lake Highland Prep to its second consecutive state championship behind his total domination at X. His final junior year statistics: 200-plus ground balls, two goals, one assist and a 75 percent winning percentage at the dot.
"After they saw the film and after the national championship," Parker said, "they got my number through Sergio and we just sort-of started communicating. I ended up calling coach (Lelan) Rogers and we talked for a little bit and set up a visit for me to go up to campus.
"I think they had seen me play before hand at a tournament in the fall a couple years ago and kept me in their system sort-of-thing, but I don't think they really pegged me until after the national championship."
A few months after Syracuse was denied being crowned national champions, Rogers was down in Towson, Md., to get a glimpse of Parker at the Under Armour All-American games.
From there, the process began. The wheels were officially set in motion when Parker took an unofficial (his first of two) to Syracuse in the summer with his parents. The campus, as Parker describes it, was "quiet and laid back."
"I just went up there on a weekend," Parker said. "It was nice because the campus was quiet. There was really no one on campus. It was laid back and non of the stores were really crowded. Nothing was packed."
At the end of October, Parker found himself up north again on the Hill. This time around, he would experience it like any other Syracuse student and take in the sights and sounds of the weekend as well as find out what it was really like to be a faceoff specialist for the Orange.
"It was really nice to see it in both perspectives," Parker said. "The first time was real nice and laid back while the second visit was the real college experience where I stayed overnight."
"I stayed with Sergio and he took me around, but Cal (Paduda) took me to the locker room and stuff. Cal really explained to me -- and I saw Cal a lot -- what it's like to be a Syracuse faceoff man and the everyday ins and outs of it -- practices, workouts, how coach (Kevin) Donahue and coach Rogers structure the faceoff guys -- all that."
Upon arriving on campus next fall, Parker will "no question" be a FOGO (faceoff, get off guy), however, that does not stop this athlete from improving his overall game.
"Right now, in my senior year of high school," Parker said, "I'm really working on becoming an all-around midfielder and just deal with everyone's perception. When you put yourself in other people's shoes -- from all different spectrums -- you really appreciate the whole more. So, I feel like if I learn to play a better defense, a better offense, shoot the ball better, learn to play a little better on-ball defense, I will learn to be more appreciative of the game and a little bit more versatile when I get to Syracuse."
He is also looking forward to being a part of a family within a family when it comes to the faceoff group.
"Absolutely," Parker said when asked about how tight the faceoff posse was, "those guys are real close. The losses bring you together as much as the wins do. You bond together a bit and keep working hard. Your work is never done."
Check out Parker's highlight video below as well as what he thinks his strengths and weaknesses are entering his senior year of lacrosse:
On strengths: "My strengths, I really believe, are my mind and my will. Obviously, on the field, my faceoffs are my strength. But what I really consider my strengths are my mind and will to never give up. I'll never give up on a play and always hustle 110 percent all over the field. I'll do anything, honestly, to help my team win whether it be a ground ball, playing great on-ball defense, running a fast break -- I'll do absolutely anything."
On weaknesses: "My weaknesses, honestly, I want to improve on everything -- absolutely everything. I'm working on everything down here. I always want to improve my athleticism, my shot on the run, but I think I need to get quicker faceoffs and need to play a little better defense. I'm really inspired by Syracuse and really need to take it to that next level. That's what I'm trying to do. I need to improve on my whole game, not just one piece."
Lacrosse Files: Max Parker
Cuse Nation Top Stories
Syracuse at Boston College Up-DownsThe best and the worst from Syracuse's 28-20 win over Boston College.
Cuse NationYesterday at 8:55 PM
Dungey's Career Day Leads Syracuse Over BCEric Dungey's career-high passing game helped lead Syracuse to a big win over BC, 28-20. Dungey was 32-38 for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and also rushed for 54…
Cuse NationYesterday at 7:35 PM
Syracuse survives vs. Boston College, 28-20Syracuse battled rain, wind and numerous penalties but came out on top versus Boston College, 28-20.
Cuse NationYesterday at 3:47 PM
Watch: Etta-Tawo's 68-yard 1-Handed TD CatchSyracuse wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo had one of the best plays in all of college football on Saturday with a one-handed, 68-yard touchdown catch that proved to be the difference…
Cuse NationYesterday at 2:45 PM