Full circle

For 2015 Centennial (Ga.) attackman and Syracuse lacrosse pledge Nathan Solomon, going back home to Central New York is a blessing and an opportunity he won't soon forget. The junior discusses his Syracuse ties, his relationships with a few, former Orange standouts and more inside.

It was what you would call a normal weekend for the Solomon family: pack up the suitcases, the lacrosse equipment and sticks and head to the airport for another showcase.

On this particular weekend in November it was the Philly Showcase, a two-part event that featured an individual player showcase on Saturday and an elite high school and club team competition on that following Sunday. Nathan, an attackman out of Atlanta, Ga., was participating in the event with his travel team, LB3 -- a lacrosse club founded by former Syracuse University standout Liam Banks.

"I was just going to have a good time," Nathan recalls, "Liam is friends with (Syracuse) head coach (John) Desko and assistant coach (Kevin) Donahue. They decided to watch one of my games and that is where the opportunity came -- in Philadelphia. They told Liam really they liked what they saw and that they needed a ball carrier at attack in the class of 2015."

Desko was indeed in town in Philadelphia for the showcase. The head coach was so impressed that he asked Banks to have Nathan contact him per his request.

Nathan is the first boy's lacrosse player out of the Peach State to commit to the Orange. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound attacker eclipsed over 100 points (54 goals, 49 assists) as a freshman and had 189 points (94 goals, 95 assists) as a sophomore on varsity. He was named the Georgia Male Lacrosse Athlete of the Year -- the only sophomore athlete selected in the state to do so.

"I was seriously considering other schools because I never thought the (Syracuse) opportunity would arise," Nate said. "It was one of my dreams (to go to Syracuse). When kids say it was their dream to go to Syracuse, it was my dream, too. When the opportunity came up, I knew I wanted to play there. It's always been a dream."

He also considered Lehigh, Dartmouth and Harvard before choosing Syracuse.

The relationship with Banks is something that Nathan keeps close to the vest, especially when it came to breaking it all down and picking the Orange.

"My relationship with Liam is great," Nathan said. "He talks Syracuse up. He says, ‘I'm a Syracuse grad, but in the end, it's your decision.' He didn't try and push me to Syracuse. I kind of knew I wanted to go there if given the opportunity.

"Liam has definitely helped me with my game," Nathan continued, "Coach (Brian) Silcott, coach (John) Zulberti (Syracuse lacrosse legend), coach (Bryan) Wallace and Casey Powell have all helped me."

Yes, you read that right: Casey Powell was also instrumental in Nathan's development as a lacrosse player. In fact, according to Nathan's father, Neal, it was where his son's interest in the game came about.

"Long story short," Neal said, "I had Casey come down to Atlanta to do a clinic. Long history with Casey. He inspired my kids to want to play lacrosse and got them hooked. My family continues to have a strong friendship with Casey.

"Liam comes down (to Atlanta) and starts his club. My boys join his club and I go to help him with his LB3 Club that is growing like a weed in Atlanta. He brings down all of these current Syracuse lacrosse guys like Kevin Rice, Dom Lamolinara, Billy Ward and former Syracuse stars Steven Ianzito, Tim Harder, John Galloway-- all of the Syracuse lacrosse guys to work the summer camps and coach club teams. That's part of the excitement down here, they get to see the Syracuse University players all summer, building long lasting relationships with them, training with them and just hanging out during their down time. It's a mini Syracuse down here during the summer time which is just awesome."

While a desire for warmer temperatures and a new employment opportunity brought the immediate family to Alpharetta, Ga., the rest of the clan -- grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins -- call Central New York home.

"We think it's meant to be," mother, Nanci, said about her son committing to Syracuse, "It was all meant to be. We can't believe that this came about because family's there, we're going back home -- it's comforting."

His father still can't believe it, either.

"It's just so exciting for our whole family," Neal said. "This is what we've known for our entire lives. We still bleed orange down here (in Georgia) and it's crazy that he is going back and has a chance to play."

Ties in the Syracuse area are strong for the Solomon family: Nanci (Fleischman) graduated from Jamesville Dewitt High School and Neal graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School. Nathan's uncle and aunt own Pastabilities, his great uncle owns BC's Restaurant and is one of the new owners of the Syracuse Chiefs while his cousin manages J Michaels on Marshall Street. Both sets of Nathan's grandparents graduated from Syracuse University as well.

"This has come full circle for us growing up in Syracuse," Nanci continued, "When the opportunity arose for Nathan to go to Syracuse, we were just like, ‘What? Syracuse? What in the world?' It's full circle for us."

The family has the "best of both worlds," especially when it comes to Syracuse joining the ACC Conference and being in the heart of it all when it comes to away games.

"We will definitely make most of the games," Nanci said, "Playing in the ACC now, it will be easier for us to get to the away games in North Carolina and Virginia from our home in Georgia"

Syracuse will play games on the road at John's Hopkins, Virginia and Duke this season.

"It's comforting to my parents that I will be so close to my family and I can go see them so easily." Nathan added.

For now, with two years left at Centennial, Nathan is focused on making the best of his high school years, helping his team to attempt to repeat as Georgia State Champions (Centennial High School boy's lacrosse won its first-ever title in any male sport in 2013). He will be focused on improving his one-on-one dodging abilities and getting even better at things that have come naturally for him including his lacrosse I.Q. and riding abilities.

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