TPHS lacrosse star settling in at Syracuse


Spencer Small’s earliest memory of playing lacrosse was actually one he’d rather forget.

“I remember when I was in middle school and made their B team,” he explains. “I was pretty upset about it, so I used it as motivation to get pulled up to the A team and eventually did.”

Since that initial slight, Small rose through the ranks to first become a star on Torrey Pines High’s varsity lacrosse squad, and then graduate to playing Syracuse; one of the top schools for the sport in the country. (His path also included a stint at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.)

“I committed to Syracuse the day before Christmas and I remember it being the best present I have ever received,” Small remembers of his decision to verbally commit to the Upstate New York team. “When I got off the phone with Coach Rogers, I started bouncing off the walls. The rest of the day I was on cloud nine.”

Small first caught the school’s eye after seeing him in action at the Adrenaline High Rollers recruiting event, a match where the west coast’s top players showcase their skills in front of college recruiters in hopes of athletic glory post-high school. ”I played well that tournament and they reached out to me after that.”

Growing up in the Carmel Valley, Small says he grew as a player considering the amount of powerhouse lacrosse stars the North County routinely churns out. The quality of the field has forced Small to continually improve his game. “In my early stages of playing lacrosse, I was constantly having to speed up my level of play in order to keep up with them,” he remembers. “It was really beneficial to my progression early on.”

Eventually, Small began to stand out while playing for Torrey Pines.” Beating La Costa Canyon in the CIF Championship my freshman year of high school was easily the best sporting event I have ever been apart of,” says Small, who also cites his successful senior season as a Falcon. “Senior year in San Diego was incredible. I could not have asked for a better group of seniors to end my final season”

However, the transition to Syracuse hasn’t gone exactly according to plan. The team’s 2017 season, which would have been Small’s first as an Orangeman, was derailed in September after a mumps outbreak forced the school to cancel the majority of the team’s fall matches. In a statement, the school’s Director of Athletics John Wildhack explained the decision, “Ultimately, we prioritized the health of our student-athletes, our scrimmage opponent athletes, the Syracuse University student body, our community and beyond.” The team reconvened in mid-November. In spite of the setback, Small’s spirits are still high. “The transition from California to New York has been incredibly smooth just because of how welcoming my teammates and coaches have been,” he says of joining the historic squad, which has won 21 national championships since its founding in 1916. “As soon as I got here I gained 54 friends and I could not be more thankful for that.”

Adds Small: “When you come to a program like Syracuse, you come here to contend for a national championship.”