Yale prides itself on drawing students from diverse geographic backgrounds, and the men’s lacrosse team is no different. This year’s roster features players from 13 different states, an especially high number for a sport that is still dominated by East Coast players and teams.
Nonetheless, not everyone on the Bulldog roster comes from an unusual environment. Ten different players have at least one high school peer on the team. In fact, two high schools, Brunswick and Chaminade, boast three current Elis apiece.
Brunswick, a private day school in Greenwich, Connecticut, can call All-American attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15, sibling defensemen David Better ’15 and Charlie Better ’17 its alumni. Midfielder Shane Thornton ’15, All-American defenseman Michael Quinn ’16 and midfielder Brian Pratt ’17 all attended Chaminade, a large private school in Mineola, New York.
“There is definitely a huge pipeline from Chaminade [to Yale],” said Pratt, whose older brother, Michael Pratt ’12, captained the Bulldogs in his senior year.
Chaminade, however, is a highly unusual program for both its intensity and talent. According to Thornton and Quinn, their graduating class sent roughly a dozen players to Division I teams, more than almost any school in the country.
For the graduates of Brunswick, the path to Yale took a bit more good fortune. When Oberbeck and the older of the two Better brothers came to Yale in 2012, they were welcomed by former high school teammates Robby Berner ’12 and Jimmy Craft ’14. But unlike Chaminade, Brunswick was by no means a longtime national powerhouse.
“Lacrosse-wise, Conrad and I were there for an era that saw the program transition from a competitive local program to one that is nationally recognized,” David Better said.
And unlike the three Chaminade Flyers, neither Better was formally recruited to play at Yale. David applied to Yale as a non-athlete, knowing that he would be able to walk on when he began attending the University.
For Charlie, who attempted to follow the same path two years later, David’s experience was a big motivator in pushing Yale to the top of his list.
“The fact that David had successfully taken this chance was huge for me, as it convinced me to the do same,” Charlie Better said. “Having an older brother to guide me through the admissions process definitely helped as well.”
In addition to the trios from Chaminade and Brunswick, Yale boasts a pair of players — Conor Resch ’17 and Jeff Cimbalista ’17 — who attended Pennsylvania’s La Salle together, and two more from Manhasset High School in New York.
In fact, the Bulldog roster is filled not only with high school pipelines but also family dynasties. In addition to the Betters and Pratts, midfielder Jon Reese ’16 follows in both his father’s and uncle’s footsteps as an Eli lacrosse star, while goalie Dylan Meyer ’18 plays the same position as his older brother did four years earlier.
“I think the fact there are so many family ties in our program speak to how special it is,” David Better said. “There are few, if any, other programs that have had as many sets of brothers, sons, fathers, etc. come through, which I think says a lot about the unique culture players and coaches have built here.”