CuseNation.com caught up with Smithtown West (NY) face-off specialist and 2016 Syracuse commit Dan Varello for our latest lacrosse Q &A.
Last year's high school statistics: Played varsity his freshman year of high school. Varello was the backup FOGO to his older brother, Joe, who is currently at Navy Prep. He won roughly 80 percent of the face-offs last year.
Club team: Team Smithtown
Hot Beds (All-Star)
Top 205 (All-Star)
Under Armor All-American Tryouts (Top 100)
LI Rising Sophomore Suffolk-Nassau Showcase
CN: Pretty basic question: how did you get involved with the sport of lacrosse?
DV: I started playing lacrosse in kindergarten and my father was my first coach. He knew that my town had a great youth lacrosse program. My older brother (currently at Navy Prep for Lacrosse) went through the youth program also.
CN: Is there anyone you look up to when it comes to the sport?
DV: My brother is my role model when it comes to lacrosse. His leadership and knowledge of the game gave me a clear path in how to act on and off the field.
CN: How did you first get noticed by Syracuse? Were you at a particular showcase?
DV: Syracuse saw me play several times over the summer. I believe they saw me play at Under All-American Tryouts, and Suffolk-Nassau Rising Sophomore showcase.
CN: What did your visit entail?
DV: Coach Rogers first gave us a tour of mostly the athletic facilities. Such as, Manley Field house, the Carmelo Center, the Equipment room and the Carrier Dome. We also toured a few of the academic buildings such as Newhouse, the Crouse College of Fine Arts, and the Hall of Languages.
CN: What was your biggest takeaway from your visit?
DV: The biggest takeaway for me was the strong lacrosse tradition at the university. Also, the emphasis on academics for student-athletes.
CN: What do you think is your biggest asset?
DV: My strength and technique at the face-off X. I am also strong in getting scrappy and doing whatever I can to finish the face-off with the ball in my stick.
CN: What do you still need to improve on?
DV: I need to improve on my ball placement as I am popping the ball out. I also need to work on getting the ball into the offensive zone without any turnovers. As I get to the next level, defenseman will be pressuring me and I need to be ready for that.
CN: What other schools were you considering?
DV: North Carolina, Ohio State, and Michigan.
CN: Why Syracuse?
DV: Syracuse has been my dream ever since I was a kid. The lacrosse program is one of the best in the country and I feel as though I could help the Orange make a run at the national championship. The academics at SU are superior and they had my specific major. Syracuse was a great fit for me.
CN: Thoughts on Syracuse's move to the ACC? Did the move to a new conference influence your decision even more?
DV: Yes, moving to the ACC did influence my decision more. The move to the ACC reinforces Syracuse's commitment to playing lacrosse at a high competitive level. Debatably the strongest Lacrosse conference, the ACC contains Lacrosse powerhouses such as Duke, Virginia, UNC, and Notre Dame.
CN: You mentioned to me earlier that Syracuse junior defensive lineman Robert Welsh is your cousin. Describe the dynamic between you two.
DV: Rob has been a great role model for me. He has showed me what is expected at the collegiate level on the field and in the classroom. He also shows me that hard work pays off and to never give up on your goals.
CN: Did he push you in the direction of Syracuse when it came to the recruiting process?
DV: Not directly. But seeing what Syracuse did for him, and how much he enjoys playing for Syracuse, it definitely played a role in my decision.
CN: What's that like having a cousin already up at Syracuse? What did he tell you about the school?
DV: It's very cool. I also think it's a lot easier when I have someone that goes before me and can share experiences and help prepare me for college life at Syracuse. He told me specifically that being a student athlete at Syracuse, will be very demanding of my time, and I need to manage my time in order to succeed in athletics as well as academics.
CN: What were your thoughts on their Texas Bowl win?
DV: I think it's always good for the University when Syracuse can win on a big national stage such as a bowl game.
CN: What was the recruiting process like for you and your parents? How did they help you?
DV:It was a very quick process, and a little stressful. My parents helped guide me through the process and encouraged me to be patient and to make sure that I made the best decision for me.
DV: They helped me by showing me the important things in making a decision. We listed the pros and cons of each school on a note pad, and studied that list for weeks. They also helped me prioritize the important elements that factored into my decision.
CN: You said you were strictly a FOGO, but you were working on other facets of your game. What are they?
DV: Yes, I am working on my speed and footwork after the face-off. I am also working on my stick skills and lacrosse IQ. And lastly, I work every week to perfect my technique and my hand speed at the X.
Get to know: Dan Varello
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