River Hill lacrosse coach Keith Gonsouland knew senior Daniel Hostetler was special after playing a one-on-one basketball game against him when Hostetler was an eighth-grader.
"Even though I was bigger and stronger than him, he played so hard," Gonsouland recalled. "As I remember, he fouled me every time I posted up. That impressed me, because he kept coming at me and didn't quit. That desire to compete is what makes him exceptional and sets him apart in all of the sports that he plays."
Indeed. Whether it's lacrosse, basketball or football, Hostetler has been a standout performer and leader for the Hawks.
Last fall, he earned All-Metro honors as a quarterback-defensive back who led the Hawks to a school-record 13-1 mark, a Class 3A runner-up finish and a No. 1 ranking in The Sun.
Hostetler, 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, just concluded a basketball season in which he averaged nearly 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in helping River Hill (23-5) win the program's first state title over Montgomery County's Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the Class 3A final.
And now the attackman-midfielder returns to the lacrosse field, where he earned second-team All-Howard County honors last spring after he was a catalyst in the Hawks recording a program-best 15-2 record and reaching their first 3A-2A South Regional final.
"Daniel is one of the few kids who are throwbacks," Gonsouland said of Hostetler, whose 146 career points (68 goals, 78 assists) rank third all-time at River Hill. "During football season, he's all about football. During the winter, he's all about basketball. And in the spring, it's all about lacrosse."
Hostetler, who had 41 goals, 43 assists and 84 ground balls last season, is getting rave reviews from opposing lacrosse coaches as well.
He is a "very dynamic, very athletic player," Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker said. "Don't think I haven't been thinking the past nine months about the best way to stop him in order to take away a big portion of their offense."
Hostetler, who clocked a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, is "tough, fast, quick, big and strong - like a college athlete playing with high school kids," first-year Mount Hebron coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's so dangerous, he can single-handedly beat any team in this county. Stopping Dan Hostetler is easier said than done."
Hostetler, the youngest of four athletic siblings, is so intense when it comes to sports that he and his brother Ben, a sophomore quarterback at Georgetown University, "can't play against each other in any sport or they will start fighting," their mother, Nancy Hostetler, said.
"I love playing defense and I've always been aggressive," said Daniel Hostetler, whose lacrosse scholarship to Georgetown will allow him to join his brother at the school. "In basketball, I love rebounding and rough and tough play. My top two sports favorites are football and lacrosse, but really, it's whichever season I'm in.
"I want to be remembered as a leader who was intense, never shied away from a challenge, wasn't afraid to do the little things. I want people to say that I gave it my all and did whatever was best for the team."
This season, what's best for the team might require Hostetler to take on multiple roles.
River Hill, competing in a tough Howard County league with defending county champion Glenelg, defending 3A-2A state champion Mount Hebron and upstart Centennial, lost several key players to graduation, including Hostetler's cousin, All-County attackman Josh Hostetler, and All-Metro second-team faceoff midfielder Peter Ridge.
"I expect that I'll play attack and middie again, maybe even more positions," Hostetler said. "We'll need some new guys to step up, but we feel like we can be back in the running with hard work."
That work ethic is part of the pedigree of Hostetler, who is expected to be the 16th of Norman Hostetler's 28 grandchildren to play collegiate athletics. Daniel's uncle, Jeff Hostetler, played 12 years in the NFL.
Daniel's oldest brother, Matt, graduated from Brown University, where he played football. His sister, Laura, is a senior lacrosse player at George Washington University, where she has twice earned All-America honors.
Ben Hostetler recently returned to his family's Ellicott City home, where he and Daniel bounced lacrosse balls off a plywood wall that was constructed by the duo for just that reason.
"Ben and I built it, but we recently had to re-do it because over time our shots were so hard, they would just break through the wood," Daniel Hostetler said. "I'm always working to get better and improve my game because I know that the level of play in college is a lot more intense than in high school, and I want to make sure that I'm ready for it."