The two most recent captains of the No. 20 Yale men’s lacrosse team share more similarities than just being defensive players who tore ACLs while in college. Both defender Michael Quinn ’16 and long-stick midfielder Brian Pratt ’17 graduated from Chaminade High School on Long Island.
But the connection between Yale and Chaminade runs even deeper than Quinn and Pratt. Four of the Bulldogs’ last eight captains played at the Long Island powerhouse before coming to New Haven. These players have been team leaders long before becoming Yale captains, thanks in large part to Chaminade’s demanding atmosphere and rich history.
“Chaminade is a hypercompetitive environment in the classroom and on the field,” Quinn said. “If you want to stick out you have to be a leader of men. It’s a good incubator for leadership … [and] there’s an incredibly strong tradition. You feel you’re standing on the shoulders of giants there, and it’s humbling knowing the people who wore the jersey before you.”
Chaminade High School fielded its first lacrosse team in 1977, and head coach Jack Moran assumed his post in 1979. Now in his 38th year at the helm of the Flyers, Moran and Chaminade have won over half of the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association championships in that span, and currently boast a No. 7 national high school ranking from USA Today. In the 2015 season alone, 62 Chaminade graduates competed in Division I, according to Moran.
When it comes to playing at Yale, the Flyers’ coach believes that the challenging academics at Chaminade, which requires a competitive placement exam for admission, allow its graduates to transition well to the rigors of the Ivy League. Moran has also formed a strong relationship with Yale head coach Andy Shay, whom he knew when Shay was an assistant at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the early 2000s.
“I consider [Shay] more of a friend than someone I just talk to about recruiting,” said Moran, who routinely travels up to New Haven to watch early-season games.
Moran’s players have done more than compete at Yale, captaining four of the last eight Bulldog teams. He said there is an emphasis on leadership in his high school program over personal on-field achievements: Moran does not record individual statistics and prefers parents not to ask their kids after games how many goals they scored.
According to Quinn, the Motto of the Chaminade Man — “[someone who] does the right thing at the right time because it is the right thing to do, regardless of who is watching” — is a good introduction to Yale lacrosse and helps explain why Chaminade graduates have been so successful in the Yale uniform.
“It’s that way of living that manifests itself on the lacrosse field [at Chaminade],” Quinn said. “Yale lacrosse is exactly the same. We pride ourselves in doing things differently and being unselfish. It’s similar philosophies that both coaches emphasize.”
Brendan Gibson ’10 was the first of the four Chaminade alumni to captain Yale’s team since his senior season. Six years after finishing his Eli career with what is now the sixth-best goal tally in program history, the Point Lookout, New York, native returned to his high school this season as an offensive coach on the freshman team.
“[Moran and Shay] did a good job of coaching not only the sport but the individual,” Gibson said, adding that he hopes to have the same impact on young Flyers that Moran had on him.
Though Yale failed to make the NCAA tournament from 1993 to 2011, the Elis switched gears in 2012. The captain of the team that broke the program’s 20-year postseason drought was Michael Pratt ’12, the current captain’s older brother.
Yale has dominated the conference since that breakthrough, capturing Ivy League tournament titles in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Last year, under Quinn, Yale held the No. 1 national ranking for three straight weeks, the first time in program history the Elis topped a national poll.
Although Quinn’s journey from Chaminade to Yale included a postgraduate year at the Hotchkiss School, the defender brought many of the qualities that allowed him to succeed in high school to Yale. Moran praised Quinn’s work ethic, saying he always challenged himself and always wanted to guard the opponent’s best player, qualities the 38-year veteran said cannot be coached.
Quinn did the same while wearing the Yale uniform, often shutting down the opponent’s top attacker. By the end of his 59-game career, Quinn had picked up 129 ground balls and caused 65 turnovers.
However, none of those games were as big as his last, in which the senior played 50 minutes in an NCAA tournament clash with Navy on an ACL he tore three weeks prior. Besides providing an emotional lift for his teammates, Quinn picked up two ground balls and forced a turnover in the 13–10 loss.
Although Brian Pratt missed his entire junior year to an ACL injury, the senior returned to lead a Yale squad in 2017 that bounced back from a three-game losing streak to win its first two Ivy League games. Quinn, having watched the vocal leadership of Brian Pratt during his first three years, was not surprised when he was voted captain.
“Since he stepped on campus as a freshman, he was unafraid to speak his mind,” Quinn said. “He has strong communication skills and was always a big presence in the locker room and the weight room. He plays incredibly hard and he’s fearless on the field. It takes a ton of commitment to come back from an injury like his.”
The current captain is not the only former Flyer on Yale’s 2017 roster. Midfielders Jack Tigh ’19, who has eight goals in seven games this season, and William Renz ’20 also graduated from Chaminade. Tigh solidified his place in Chaminade history during his junior year, when he scored four goals in the CHSAA title game that clinched both a state title and Moran’s 500th career victory.
Chaminade High School was founded in 1930.