Boys Latin player Shack Stanwick (Gene Sweeney Jr. / The Baltimore…)
Like any high school senior star, Boys' Latin attackman Shack Stanwick has typical aspirations for his final lacrosse season.
He wants to win the coveted Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship that has eluded the Lakers during his years with them. He's excited about the talent returning from a team that fell one game short of a perfect season last year, and he's quick to mention the hard work that needs to be put in every minute of every practice.
But Stanwick's season is uniquely special because when it's over, high school lacrosse in Baltimore will never be the same.
It will mark the end not only of his stellar four-year career, but also of a family dynasty that has supplied two-plus decades of lacrosse excellence. He's the youngest of eight siblings, all of whom starred.
"Yeah, it's a little crazy," said Stanwick, an All-Metro first-team pick as a junior and the country's No. 1 recruit this season. "It's kind of ending the reign, so it's a little weird to think about. But, since it's my last year, I want to go out on top, and getting a championship would be amazing."
Sheehan Stanwick Burch, the eldest of the bunch, played at Notre Dame Prep — as did her three sisters — and graduated in 1997. She was followed by Wick (1999), Coco (2003) and Covie (2011). Tad, the eldest boy, graduated from Boys' Latin in 2005 and passed the stick on to Steele (Loyola, 2008), Wells (Boys' Latin, 2011) and finally Shack.
All eight played on attack and brought the same qualities: an exceptional lacrosse IQ, stick skills and sportsmanship. The first seven went on to enjoy fine college careers, and Shack — committed to play at Johns Hopkins, where Well is a junior — will soon follow.
"It's been a long ride," said Wells Stanwick Sr., their father. "It really hasn't sunk in yet, and I don't think we'll know until it's over."
When he was 3 years old, Shack savored his first sample of lacrosse when he tagged along as his father, Wells Sr., took the oldest girls to play on the grass field at St. Mary's Seminary off Roland Avenue. Next came countless hours of backyard play with his brothers.
Shack, being the youngest, often ended up stuck in goal as his siblings peppered him with shots. If there was no goalie, there was always the painted-on outline of a goal on the outside of the family's garage.
Closely observing his siblings and soaking in advice, Shack has developed a refined offensive game. During his freshman season, he started alongside Wells, then a senior, while Tad and Steele both spent time as assistant coaches.
The high expectations that might have come with being a Stanwick have never fazed Shack.
"Right before the first game, when we were walking out for the starting lineup, I just told him not to be nervous and that he worked as hard as anyone and would be fine," Wells said. "He ended up having a pretty good game and a really good season."
Shack took off from there, and the 216 points (91 goals, 125 assists) he takes into his senior season already rank in the top 10 in Boys' Latin's rich history.
"He's equally adept with both hands, so that just opens up such a variety of things he can do on the field," said Bob Shriver, the Lakers' coach for 35 years. "Because he's so skilled with both hands, he has the ability to attack the goal literally from 360 degrees, and not many can do that."
Devising a game plan to slow any Stanwick has proved difficult for opposing coaches.
"He understands the flow of the game, the way it progresses, better than most players do, and some of that undoubtedly comes from having grown up in a family with as many accomplished lacrosse players as they have," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said. "I think one of the most difficult things about preparing for him is understanding that he can hurt you more than one way.
"He's not just a carrier, but maybe more so a distributor. So, you have to figure out what can you do to minimize the damage because he's going to be difficult one way or the other. That's a very tall task."
Shack has learned, with some frustration, that winning an MIAA championship is also tough.
During his freshman season, the Lakers led Gilman by three goals with a little more than a minute left in the semifinals and shockingly lost in overtime, 7-6, in what is considered the league's greatest comeback.
Then, last year, the Lakers were ranked No. 1 in the country and 19-0 when Loyola pulled off league's greatest upset — a 10-9 win in the championship game.
That this high school season might be the last watching a Stanwick creates even more pressure to win.
Shriver, has either coached or gone up against a Stanwick in every year since Tad's freshman season in 2002, knows one thing.
"Honestly, it's really sad in a way because, I'm going to miss having them," he said. "They're wonderful kids, their family has been great, and their mom and dad have been very supportive. It's been great, and I'm going to miss them dearly."
Wells Sr. has told each of his children the same thing going into every season.
"The only advice I've given them is to do the right thing," he said. "It doesn't matter what the stat sheet looks like; what matters is you do the right thing. It's that simple."
The words were no different this final time, for Shack.
"I don't know if I feel it yet, but I definitely think about it. It's crazy. This is the last season, the last chance, and there's no turning back," he said. "I'm just going to do what I can. It always comes back to how we can become better and what we can do to help our team win."