The Great Santini

Phillip Brents

Thu April 28, 2016 9:00pm

The Olympian High School boys lacrosse program is only four years old but the Eagles have already found the player by which to measure further standards. He is senior Tyler Santini and he has become a magician with his stick, producing 27 goals in the team’s first 11 games of the 2016 season.
But scoring goals is not what makes him so invaluable to the team. It’s his leadership on the pitch that matters most.
“In the last four years of our program, nobody has worked harder in practice or in a game than he has,” Olympian head coach Keith Quigley explained. “He has been on the varsity since day one as a freshman. What I noticed right away was his athlete’s mentality — he hates to lose.
“He has a very strong work ethic, pushes himself; he’s one of the toughest guys — toughest mentally and physically. When he plays a game, he gets after it for 48 minutes. He doesn’t take a second off.
“He never misses practice. He pushes the other kids to become stronger. His drive, so much of it is mental. He has the mark of a true athlete.”
Santini’s position is fluid on the team; he can play defender but also plays a key role as a long stick midfielder.
Surprisingly, Santini has become a master of the game only since starting to play in high school.
“I had a back injury playing youth football,” Santini explained. “I had been playing football all my life. I had a full recovery but I wasn’t able to participate in full-contact sports any more. I decided to try out for lacrosse my freshman year in high school and I fell in love with it. Now lacrosse dominates my life.
“During the lacrosse season I practice Monday through Saturday. The days we don’t have practice, I go running and go to school to shoot.”
Quigley said Santini’s playing attributes are his grit, scrappiness, determination, hard work and desire.
“The motivation is the want to get better and the want to improve and help your team out,” Santini noted. “You want to be the best.”
Santini has since played for some of the county’s top tier club programs. He received a season MVP award with the Coronado-based Lax Dawgs. He has also received the defensive MVP award with Olympian as well as the Eagles’ “hustle award” his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.
He is headed to play NAIA lacrosse at Benedictine College, a small liberal arts college in Atchison, Kansas. “I want to have a positive impact on the team and grow as a lacrosse student-athlete,” he said.
Santini said the team’s goal is to qualify for the CIF playoffs. “We lost a lot of seniors last year,” he said. “I’d like to make a trip to the playoffs my senior year. We’ve been in the playoffs two years in a row.
“It’s huge to come as far as we have in the short amount of time the program has been going.”
As one of three captains on this year’s Olympian team, all his physical training and mental preparation have come together.
“Being selected as a captain, I enjoy helping other players out, making sure everyone understands what’s going on and keeping everyone on the same page,” he said.
“I give it 110 percent — 24/7,” Santini said in regard to his personal playing philosophy. “I’m constantly giving it my all. If you’re giving anything less, you’re cheating yourself and your team.”