Coached By: Tim Rotanz
Shoreham-Wading River's lacrosse program is relatively new, but it blossomed quickly thanks to players like Pete Vlahakis. He was in seventh grade when the program began and skidded to a 1-15 record in its inaugural season, and though he wasn't part of the team that won a New York State title the year after he graduated, he still had plenty to do with the program's drive to succeed.
A four-year varsity player for the Wildcats, Vlahakis won the 2000 Ray Enners Award for his efforts on the lacrosse field. Like the other winners, he wasn't expecting the great honor.
"I had great role models," says Vlahakis, whose team lost in the first round of the playoffs his senior year, "my dad and my coaches. I always tried to play the game right and lead by example."
Looking back, aside from winning the award, Vlahakis said beating archrival Rocky Point during his sophomore season was his best moment in high school.
"As 15 and 16 year olds you just cared so much," he says. "It was the first time we beat them. We had a huge rivalry."
Choosing between Fairfield and North Carolina, Vlahakis stayed up north for college. At Fairfield he perfected his craft in the face-off circle and rose to be one of the best circle men in the game. In 2003 he had a .633 face-off percentage, the seventh best total in the nation. He was a two-time All-New England pick.
The New Jersey Pride selected him in the fourth round of the 2004 Major League Lacrosse draft. Four years later, as a member of his hometown Long Island Lizards, he set the league singe-game record for face-off wins and percentage, winning 35 of 48 draws for a 72.91 percentage.
He holds the top face-off percentage in league history and was an all-star in 2007 and 2008. He has also scooped 259 groundballs in five seasons and has won 780 of 1,361 draws in the circle.
Many professional lacrosse players get jaded over time with little pay and non-lacrosse careers bogging down their athletic goals, but Vlahakis still works harder now for the game, than ever before. He's not done setting records or accomplishing tasks on the field.
"I want to win an MLL championship," he says. "It's the best league in the world."
He is also about 75 face-off wins shy of owning that career record, too.
Vlahakis, whose father Bob created the annual Face-Off Yearbook, which is part of Inside Lacrosse's coverage now, is a high school teacher in Brooklyn. He is looking into coaching in New York City.