Not so long ago Syracuse University was the furthest thing from Henry Schoonmaker’s mind and one of the farthest from his Oregon home. Pardon him, then, for having to pinch himself occasionally to make sure he is really
playing on the second midfield line for one of the nation’s Division I lacrosse powerhouses.
“Every once in a while you think about how you got here,” Schoonmaker (6-foot-1, 187 pounds), a redshirt freshman, said. “It’s kind of weird. It definitely is. Coming from Oregon, I never really expected this.”
There was little reason to, even though Schoonmaker was a 2010 U.S. Lacrosse All-American and the Oregon high school player of the year. He was excelling in the one of the nation’s most distant lacrosse outposts, and an illness during his sophomore year prevented him from attending the high-profile camps in the East that are essential for young talent hoping to be discovered.
“It takes a lot more effort to get yourself known when you’re playing out there,” Schoonmaker said. “You really have to work hard at it.”
His situation was turned on its head when former SU superstar Ryan Powell, who was playing pro box lacrosse for the Portland LumberJax, coached Schoonmaker’s club team.
“He said, ‘Hey, do you want to go somewhere?’” Schoonmaker recalled. “It was the first I thought about Syracuse. Well, it’s always been a dream, but it’s Syracuse, you know?”
Powell’s recommendation eventually found the ear of SU recruiting coordinator Lelan Rogers, and Schoonmaker arrived on campus in September 2010, one of 50-plus players on a veteran team that was one year removed from a national title.
“The first week I was pretty surprised and nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a ton of expectations. I obviously knew how good Syracuse was. I was okay at first and then some of the starters came out and I was like, ‘OK, this is how you play lacrosse.’ It was the intensity. High school lacrosse was more laid back for me, but once I came here it was completely different intensity and expectations.”