It’s not too difficult to pick up on the impact of Culver Academy grads on Division 1 college lacrosse.
Last weekend was just one example.
In the course of a single day, Mike Robinson, a junior attackman from Ontario, had 7 goals and two assists for Delaware against Monmouth; another former Eagle, Princeton’s Sam English, had 4 goals against top-ranked Maryland—and that was in the first half.
That same afternoon as well, in a game played in Naples, Florida, Austin Madronic had 3 goals and 2 assists for Harvard against Ohio State; that same game also saw his former Culver teammate Jackson Reid score 4 goals for the Buckeyes—and that was just in the third quarter.
And all this happened with Syracuse’s Owen Hiltz, yet another former Eagle, and the crown jewel of his recruiting class, sidelined with a season-ending injury.
And that’s just a sampling of what was achieved on a single day of the season by the some of the 36 Culver Academy graduates on Division 1 lacrosse rosters in 2022.
The Culver Academy Lacrosse Program
It would be tempting to pigeonhole Culver as just another military academy claiming a long and distinguished history and tradition—though it is just that.
But CMA clearly is not just another springboard for the service academies.
Since its founding in northern Indiana in 1894, the school has in fact produced a disparate though accomplished group of graduates that might make for some parallel-universe season of Survivor.
They include theatrical impresario Josh Logan, author and screenwriter Ernest K. Gann, former race car driver and billionaire entrepreneur Roger Penske, actor Hal Holbrook, writer and producer Kath Lingenfelter (“Westworld”, “House”, “The Leftovers”), Weather Channel founder Frank Batten, jazz singer Kurt Elling, New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner, and his father and predecessor in that role, George Steinbrenner.
(One measure of the school’s alumni/ae success and loyalty is Culver’s financial solidity; its $540,000,000 endowment puts it roughly on par with institutions like Creighton University and Haverford College).
And yes, Culver does send graduates to the service academies, including lacrosse players. There are two former Eagles currently playing for West Point: Ethan Barangan and Alec Vaccaro.
But there are also 5 currently on the Princeton’s roster, and at other programs offering elite academic and lacrosse programs such as Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Duke, Notre Dame, and North Carolina.
The school’s lacrosse program began in the 1980’s and really began to flourish under longtime coach Jon Posner. Now coaching at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, Posner compiled a record at Culver of 280-55. At the time of his Posner’s departure in May of 2020, Culver had finished inside the Top 10 in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse National High School Power Rankings six of the previous seven years.
The Eagles are now coached by Jon Birsner. An Honorable-Mention All-American at Navy in 2005, Birsner was also the recipient of the Lt. Robert T. Bianchi Award as Navy’s most valuable player (an honor he shared with Matt Russell). Beyond his playing experience in Annapolis, Birsner also has coaching experience at two other military institutions, as an assistant, and later head coach at Naval Prep, and as a Division 1 head coach at VMI. He also served as an assistant at the now defunct Furman program under former Navy coach Richie Meade.
Culver and The Division 1 Lacrosse Pipeline
Among the many Culver graduates who’ve gone on to excel at the D1 level are Zach Currier (Princeton), Joel Tinney (Johns Hopkins), and Ethan Walker (Denver).
All three also went on to play professionally with the Premier Lacrosse League.
Significantly, all three are from Ontario.
Culver has had a reputation for attracting and further developing Canadian talent. That still holds true, as evidenced by not only Ohio State’s Jackson Reid, but also players like Mike Robinson of Delaware, Syracuse’s Owen Hiltz, Austin Madronic of Harvard, and Sam English of Princeton.
As with another school we recently profiled, Ontario’s Hill Academy, Culver has also has played an important role in nurturing U.S. based talent from areas outside lacrosse’s traditional hotbeds.
Those players, as shown in the list below, include Alec Stathakis of Denver (Northville, Michigan), and Wheaton Jackoboice (Kansas City, Missouri), Ryan Hallenbeck (Indianapolis), both of Notre Dame.
Revealingly, the list includes players from both Huntsville, Ontario and Huntsville, Alabama.
Culver Academy Graduates on 2022 D1 Lacrosse Rosters
Jack Gray, Duke, FR, M, San Rafael, California
Ty English, North Carolina, FR, M, Burlington, Ontario
Wheaton Jackoboice, GR, M, Kansas City, Missouri
Ryan Hallenbeck, GR, M, Indianapolis, Indiana
Owen Hiltz, Syracuse, SO, A, Peterborough, Ontario
John Cohen, Syracuse, RS-FR, Carmel, Indiana
Jayden Smith, Bellarmine, FR, D/LSM, Brantford, Ontario
Alex Simmons, Denver, SR, M, Smithville, Ontario
Alec Stathakis, Denver, JR, FO, Northville, Michigan
Gabe Bowen-Slott, FR, D, Portland, Oregon
Cameron Chauvette, Johns Hopkins, SO, A, Shaker Heights, Ohio
Brett Handsor, Johns Hopkins, JR, SSM, Huntsville, Ontario
Jackson Reid, Ohio State, SR, A, Guelph, Ontario
Mike Robinson, Delaware, JR, A, Peterborough, Ontario
Jake DeMare, Delaware, JR, M, Naperville, Illinois
Grayson Feick, Hofstra, SO, D/LSM, Dallas, Texas
Cam Roth, UMass, JR, D, Naperville, Illinois
Jack Kelly, Brown, SO, M, Zionsville, Indiana
Jack Parker, Cornell, JR, D, Ada, Michigan
Cam Hitchcock, Dartmouth, FR, D, Carmel, Indiana
Austin Madronic, Harvard, SR, A, Victoria, British Columbia
Batts Parker, Penn, SO, D, Huntsville, Alabama
Jake Stevens, Princeton, JR, M, Puslinch, Ontario
Sam English, Princeton, JR, M, Burlington, Ontario
Luc Anderson, Princeton, JR, M, Littleton, Colorado
Michael Gianforcaro, Princeton, SO, G, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Braedon Saris, Princeton, FR, A, Burlington, Ontario
Matt Edell, Siena, SO, M, West Chicago, Illinois
Kyle Driscoll, Hobart, SR, M, Guelph, Ontario
Joel Stevens, Hobart, SO, M, Puslinch, Ontario
Skyler Wilde, Sacred Heart, JR, A, Bayport, New York
Ethan Barangan, Army, SR, FO, Plainfield, Illinois
Alec Vaccaro, Army, FR, FO, Wheaton, Illinois
Ryan Essensa, Colgate, SO, M, Etobicoke, Ontario
Ben Trumble, Colgate, FR, M, Orillia, Ontario
Gavin Bailey, G, Holy Cross, FR, D, Hinsdale, Illinois
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.