Former players at Avon Old Farms can be seen on elite rosters throughout Division 1 college lacrosse, including those of such perennial, surefire NCAA Tournament selections as North Carolina, Syracuse, and Johns Hopkins.
But not in 2022.
However inconceivable—not to mention statistically impossible—it might seem, none of those teams even qualified for the 2022 Tournament.
Even taking that into account, you’ll still find Avon alums on the rosters of 8 teams that did qualify: Maryland, Yale, Georgetown, Princeton, Brown, Boston University, Richmond, and Ohio State.
Altogether Avon could claim a total of 28 former players on 2022 D1 college lacrosse rosters.
And that kind of representation at the D1 level isn’t a new thing for the Connecticut school.
For instance, when one of two former Avon players on North Carolina’s ’22 roster, was considering the school, he didn’t have to look far for guidance.
About 30 years before Colin Reilly entered North Carolina his father, Tom, had taken a post-graduate year at Avon en route to a college career at Maryland and Adelphi.
Reilly would actually spend two years at Avon.
Reilly also came to Avon from one of the premier programs in one of sport’s entrenched hotbeds: West Islip High School on Long Island.
So if the primary focus of this site is non-hotbed talent at the D1 level, so how is a New England school like Avon relevant here?
Avon Lacrosse and the Development of Non-Hotbed Talent
For years, boarding schools like Deerfield, Salisbury, and Avon, many times in the form of a single, PG year, have provided a large number of D1 recruits with a crucial dose of both academic and on-field seasoning.
And among the many players making use of this option are those from non-hotbed areas.
The 2022 crop of Avon alums includes Michigan’s Ryan Cohen (from Boca Raton, Florida), Brown’s George Pike (from California), Bucknell’s Harry Wellford (from St. Louis and regional powerhouse MICDS), and Owen Weathersby of Albany (Colorado).
(It’s a measure of Avon’s stature that yet another player, Colorado’s Luc Anderson, now at Princeton, arrived at Avon from a program famed for producing D1 talent, especially at academically rigorous colleges: Culver Military Academy. Anderson did not actually play at Avon his PG year due to injury).
Whether they’re from non-hotbed areas or a traditional lacrosse epicenter like Long Island, Avon players can count on being tested —and refining skills against— players some of the nation’s top high school players. Avon’s schedule offers up a gauntlet of nationally recognized programs and D1 feeders, such as Deerfield, Salisbury, Taft, and Brunswick (which, alone, had 5 players just on Princeton’s 2022 roster).
Yet another aspect of the development provided by Avon involves coaching.
Skip Flanagan and the Making of a Lacrosse Powerhouse
The standard for coaching and development at Avon was set by the program’s architect and longtime leader Henry “Skip” Flanagan.
Flanagan is one of those rare coaches who’ve made their mark in multiple regions. Between two extended stints at Avon, he also served as headmaster and lacrosse coach at Case Western Western Academy in Ohio.
As documented by Lee Roggenburg in Florida Lacrosse News, since his retirement from Avon in 2018, Flanagan has more recently joined a parade of accomplished veteran coaches who have brought their experience and experience on the Florida high school scene. (That group also includes Joe Cuozzo, Richard Speckman, and Tony Seaman).
Flanagan essentially built the Avon program from scratch beginning in 1972. The program is now being coached by Eric Fekete, who previously served as head coach at D1 Quinnipiac.
Avon Old Farms Graduates on 2022 Division 1 Lacrosse Rosters
As mentioned above, there were 28 Avon graduates playing D1 lacrosse lacrosse in 2022; they were represented on 10 of the 11 conferences that comprised Division 1.
It should also be noted that Avon has also been a conduit for Canadian talent. Three of the 176 Canadians on D1 lacrosse rosters—all playing for Richmond—are former Avon players: Lukas Olsson, Jake Saunders, and Ryan Lanchbury, a Tewaaraton Award nominee who graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer. A fourth Canadian, Bo Columbus, is at Robert Morris.
Canada obviously can’t be offered up as non-hotbed area; but their choice of Avon is still worth noting, if only as yet another measure of the program’s reputation and reach.
Owen Weathersby, Albany, SR., Louisville, Colorado
Declan Palandjian, Albany, SR., Belmont, Massachusetts
Zac Tucci, North Carolina, SR., Bedford, New Hampshire
Colin Reilly, North Carolina, SO., West Islip, New York
Jack Fine, Syracuse, FR., Roslyn, New York
Robbie Lionetti, Air Force, SO., Branford, Connecticut
Bo Columbus, Robert Morris, SO., Fergus, Ontario, Canada
Owen McElroy, Georgetown, G, Ridgewood, New Jersey
Will Collins, Providence, SO., Marblehead, Massachusetts
Beaudan Szuluk, Johns Hopkins, JR., Avon, Connecticut
Owen Murphy, Maryland, SO., Medfield, Massachusetts
Ryan Cohen, Michigan, FR., Boca Raton, Florida
T.J. Hendricks, Ohio State, SR., Fairport, New York
Tyler Pumper, Fairfield, JR., Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Darian Cook, Brown, SR., Redding, Connecticut
George Pike, Brown, SR., Woodside, California
Luc Anderson, Princeton, JR., Littleton, Colorado
Leo Johnson, Yale, FR., Greenwich, Connecticut
Peter Callahan, Sacred Heart, SR., Lighthouse Point, Florida
Jack Collins, Boston University, SR., Marblehead, Massachusetts
Harry Wellford, Bucknell, SR., St. Louis, Missouri
Will Rosenblatt, Colgate, SO., Boulder, Colorado
Chase Maitland, Holy Cross, SR., Glastonbury, Connecticut
Macklin Fitzpatrick, Lafayette, JR., Dover, Massachusetts
Michael Callahan, Loyola, FR., Darien, Connecticut
Ryan Lanchbury, Richmond, GR, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Lukas Olsson, FR, A, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Jake Saunders, SR., Oakville, Ontario, Canada
David Parry is the founder and editor of LaxAcrossAmerica. A New York-based digital marketer and copywriter, he played Division 1 lacrosse as a walk-on at Brown.