resh off their state championship win, three lacrosse players from Boulder Creek High School — Thomas Cook, Danny Carolan and Max Armitage — signed letters of intent to further their academic and athletic careers on May 18.
“I’m just incredibly proud,” said Nick Hillier, Boulder Creek’s lacrosse coach.
“These guys have put in the work, and they deserve every bit of it. These three were a huge part of growing this program and the fact that they got it done is something I’ll never forget.”
In a 13-12 overtime win against top-ranked Brophy College Prep, one of the Jaguars did not immediately realize what he accomplished.
“It actually took me three days to comprehend what happened,” said midfielder Carolan. “Losing to that team 15-3 in March, it was demoralizing and to be able to beat them in overtime and assist on my best friend’s goal to win it was the best feeling in the world.”
The trio had been dreaming of a state championship since their freshman year.
“Since I was in youth (lacrosse), you look up to the high schoolers and to be the first ones to win a championship here is awesome,” attacker Armitage said.
The athlete/coach relationship goes beyond high school. Hillier coached Armitage and goalie Cook in middle school.
“My friends and I, we played in the summer, and we played fall ball and we all traveled together,” said Cook, who will study biochemistry and play lacrosse at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
“We also grew with each other and learned our strong suits. That’s what led to the big win in the state championship.”
Others took a break from the sport but picked up where they left off to be successful on the field.
“I played lacrosse from third grade to seventh grade and all my friends play lacrosse,” said Carolan, who didn’t suit up for the Jaguars until his sophomore year.
“I really missed it and it’s my best sport. I don’t know why I quit playing in the first place.”
During the last four years, Hillier has witnessed his players’ growth.
“One of the things about Thomas that’s been so impressive is his effort,” Hillier said. “The number of times I’ve had to tell him to get out of shooting drills because he was taking too many shots and I didn’t want him to get hurt was more than any coach wants to do.”
Hillier was also impressed with Cook’s off-field activities.
“He has worked hard to get here,” Hillier said. “He has put in the time. He’s put in the camps. He’s taken shots and that’s what it takes at the next level.”
As for his offensive players, Hillier had nothing but glowing remarks about their work ethic and eagerness to learn the game.
“I remember driving to practices during Max’s freshman year and arriving about 15 to 20 minutes early and almost every day, Max would be on that net shooting before practice,” Hillier said. “If he wasn’t there before, he’d be shooting after.”
That stood out to Hillier.
“It’s the effort that he’s put in that’s made him the amazing player that we’ve seen over the past four years,” Hillier said.
Besides Armitage, Carolan was impressive.
“Danny is one of the most coachable players who I’ve had the pleasure of coaching,” Hillier said. “He just wants to play and absorb the game. He and Max would draw up their own plays even and to go from where he started sophomore year here to his level of comprehension of the game now is so impressive to me.”
While the players progressed in their athletic abilities in the last four years, one lesson allowed them to succeed.
“Boulder Creek taught us the value of playing as a team instead of playing as individuals,” Cook said. “You can’t win just playing by yourself.”
Now that they have signed to continue their playing and academic careers, these players are excited for what the future holds.
“I’m looking forward to being a student athlete, I think that will help me stay on top of everything and it’ll give me structure,” said Carolan, who committed to play lacrosse and study exercise science at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
“I’m most excited to play that level of lacrosse as well as meet new people,” said Armitage, who will play lacrosse and study business administration at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina.
“It’s going to be a new experience across the country.”
Others are excited about what life will hold post-college.
“I’m hoping to land a stable job, make a family of my own and raise a kid to play lacrosse,” Cook said.
For future Boulder Creek lacrosse players, the trio leave this bit of advice.
“To anyone who’s playing a sport, you have to be able to outwork everyone. It doesn’t matter how good you are now, it’s how good you are at the end,” Carolan said.
Armitage added, “I’d say have fun with it and to put in the work on your own, everything will work out as long you put the work in.”
Hillier, on the other hand, has advice he hopes his players will remember as they head off to college.
“I want them to remember to be humble,” Hillier said. “You go from a position in high school where you’re the best ones on the team to being the runt on the team. Just be humble, be ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked and do anything you possibly can to help your team whether you’re on or off the field.”
When asked what these players will miss the most about high school, the answer was unanimous — their teammates.
“I’ve built some memories with these boys since fourth grade, I love these guys,” Carolan said.
“I’m going to miss the coaches and the players because I grew up with them from sixth grade through high school,” Cook said.
The team hopes this won’t be the last that they see of each other. Hillier hopes he has given them a lifetime worth of memories and friendships.
“I hope they learned some values that you can take into your life and they carry the friendship and successes they had here forever,” Hillier said.