Ever since he picked up a stick in sixth grade, Tyler Prasnicki has had one goal: play lacrosse at the collegiate level. One of the biggest influences in his decision came not from the sports “hotbeds” such as Maryland, upstate New York or Long Island, but right here in Lexington.
A 2011 graduate of Rockbridge County High School, Prasnicki attended his first Lee-Jackson Classic, an annual lacrosse game that pits Virginia Military Institute against next door neighbor Washington & Lee University, as a sixth grader, the influence to want to play college lacrosse was undeniable.
The influence to pick up a stick for the first time came from his older sister, Lauren, who is currently in her junior season on the women’s team at Longwood University.
“I put all of my focus into lacrosse ever since I was a freshman (in high school),” said Prasnicki of what lead him down this path. “I knew I wanted to play lacrosse in college and then my brother (Chase) went to West Point and he influenced me to always think about the military and my dad (David) works at VMI and I’ve always been around VMI. It just happened that everything came together; how I wanted to play lacrosse in college, how I was thinking about the military.”
But once he had the stick in his hand, the once little league football and baseball player, it was lacrosse all the way and the Lee-Jackson Classic helped shape Prasnicki’s eventual decision to become a college lacrosse player.
“I’ve been going to the Lee-Jackson Classic ever since middle school, pretty much since I started playing,” said Prasnicki. “I watched it every year. I remember going to the games and always hoping to one day being able to play in it.”
Prasnicki got his chance last season at Washington & Lee’s Wilson Field. Under the lights on Oct. 21, the kid who had dreamed of one day playing in the Lee-Jackson Classic got his chance. And while he did not register any stats, Prasnicki helped his team mount a fourth quarter come back, which fell just short as the Generals claimed a 9-8 victory.
“I was scared and nervous,” laughed Prasnicki about playing in his first Lee-Jackson Classic. “Once the game got going and I settled down, it just felt right. One of the first things I thought of when I decided to come to VMI is ‘I can’t wait to play in the Lee-Jackson game.”
Prasnicki’s decision to come to VMI and play lacrosse at the Division I level has paid dividends. In 2012, the long stick midfielder, Prasnicki played in 13 of the Keydets’ 14 games, collecting 11 groundballs and forced 10 opponent turnovers, second most caused turnovers on the team. He even tallied an assist, dishing a pass to fellow freshman Mike DeBlasio in the pair’s first-ever game for the Keydets at the US Naval Academy last season.
And his head coach, Brian Anken, who is in his third year on Post, has taken notice.
“He has more than exceeded our expectations of coachablility,” said Anken of his local standout. “You can call last year a ‘breakout’ season for him, but I think that’s almost an insulting statement. I think his best lacrosse is still well in front of him.”
The 26th edition of the Lee-Jackson Classic is set for Oct. 26 at Washington & Lee’s Wilson Field, with the first whistle slated for 7:30 p.m.
“I love playing in town, and kids from the high school come out to watch. It is really gratifying to be able to play in front of everyone I have that I have been playing in front of my whole life at this level,”
When asked what he’s looking forward to the most at this year’s Lee-Jackson Classic, Prasnicki’s answer was simple: A win.