Courtesy of Yale Athletics

Like many other previous members of the class of 2021, Yale men’s lacrosse goalkeeper Jack Starr ’22 is currently on a leave of absence, deciding to spend time coaching, writing, filming and working as a sales consultant instead of enrolling this year.

Even before the Council of Presidents announced the cancellation of Ivy League spring-sport competition on Feb.18, Starr had solidified his plans to unenroll — after also taking a leave during the fall semester. Although he ultimately settled on taking the full year off, his decision to unenroll for both the fall and spring semesters was tentative for Starr, who considered taking an LOA “one semester at a time.”

“Our season was up in the air because of the pandemic, [and] many of us have been training since we were six or eight with dreams of playing four years of college lacrosse,” Starr said. “It slowly became clear that a full season with an NCAA tournament was not going to happen [so] for seniors who didn’t want their lacrosse careers to end just yet, unenrolling was the safer option.”

He does not stand alone in taking a LOA on the men’s lacrosse team: of the seniors in the program, six are currently taking a leave, while three are enrolled and one has transferred to the University of Denver but plans to graduate from Yale.

Seniors are not the only ones taking time off to preserve their eligibility. Before the Ivy League’s spring decision had been announced, Yale Athletics Associate Athletic Director Mike Gambardella told the News that “Yale does not comment publicly on student enrollment decisions” when news broke that the men’s lacrosse team would forgo its season on Feb. 1. However, a Yale Athletics spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that 40 of the team’s 48 players are either taking a gap year or transferring.

Starr did not want to end his collegiate career in 2021. He came back from an injury to start in the Bulldogs’ last game of 2020 against Michigan — a 17-11 win — stopping ten shots prior to the season’s cancellation.

“Taking a leave was a really difficult decision,” Starr said. “I unenrolled in the fall knowing that if we had a season this spring, I’d be able to play this year, take a leave next fall, and play again next spring.”

Although he will not be practicing in Yale facilities this spring under the Ancient Eight’s phased athletic guidelines, Starr has been keeping busy. He has been coaching for Apex 350, a showcase for high school goalies run by the Premier Lacrosse League’s Kyle Bernlohr, a two-time nominee for Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year, and Blaze Riorden, who leads the PLL with a 61 save percentage and 119 saves in the championship series.

Apex 350 is a component of Apex Lacrosse Events, a group of lacrosse industry leaders, professionals and coaches that run recruiting summits and showcases for younger players. The showcase is specific to goalies and hosted their most recent event from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21 in Warwick, New York. 

Team captain and midfielder Brian Tevlin ’22, who is also taking a leave this academic year, commented on Starr’s natural leadership on the team — a trait that has served him well coaching high school goalies.

“Jack is a natural leader on and off the field,” Tevlin said. “He has been an outstanding playmaker for his entire career here at Yale, and his level of commitment to the team is second to none. Our team is lucky to have his senior leadership, and presence in the locker room, coming back for another year.”

Starr has seen massive success between the pipes for Yale lacrosse, helping the Bulldogs capture their 2018 NCAA Division I National Championship with nine crucial saves against Duke in the 13–11 victory as a rookie.

Brady McDermott ’23, who played attack in two games last year and is now also taking a leave, commented on Starr’s significant role on the team. 

“I would say he’s a great teammate because he is also always willing to take shots from guys after practice even if he … got a lot of reps during practice,” McDermott said. “[He’s also great] because of his ability to reset and focus on the next play and isn’t concerned if the previous play was good or bad.”

Since earning NCAA all-tourney honors in 2018, Starr has maintained his status as a force to be reckoned with on Yale’s defensive end. He started every game for the Elis in 2019 and continued his dominance as the Bulldogs headed to their second consecutive title game on the heels of his 16-save win over Georgetown in the first round of the tournament.

Men’s lacrosse defensive coordinator Ed Williams told the News that Jack “always brings a stable voice to the team and the defense.”

“He never lets himself get too high or too low and is always consistent with his messaging on the field,” Williams continued. “It has been a pleasure watching Jack develop into a leader over the past couple years, and I’m excited to see that put into action next year.”

While he is still keeping up with his lacrosse and goalkeeping in preparation for next season, Starr has also spent time writing and is planning on shooting a short film.

The psychology and film studies major is also currently working as a sales consultant for a medical supply company, Spartan Medical, that has helped distribute COVID-19 testing solutions to the U.S. Military, hospitals and various universities.

With the vast range of experiences Starr has accrued during his leave, he is eager to return to the turf at Reese Stadium and get back in the crease next year.

“I’m looking forward to next year and hoping everyone can return to the on-campus life we knew before COVID,” Starr said. “With luck, we’ll be able to get back onto the field and into the classroom.”

Starr has stopped 328 shots on net during his tenure.

Akshar Agarwal | akshar.agarwal@yale.edu

Amelia Lower | amelia.lower@yale.edu

AKSHAR AGARWAL
AMELIA LOWER
Amelia Lower covers women's soccer, men's lacrosse and men's ice hockey. She is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College and is from Rye, New York.