Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ryan Izzo bears significant responsibility as UMass lacrosse captain

By Nicholas Casale

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

In 10, 20 or even 30 years, Ryan Izzo wants to be remembered.

Sports fans often remember past legacies, the major upsets that left them believing in the supernatural, the championship wins and heartbreaking losses, the mesmerizing talent shown off from their favorite players, and if fans regularly fail to dress warmly, then they’ll remember the numbing chill of late night games.

The memories of the athlete are similar to an extent, but unlike most fans, players will remember their teammates, their coaches, and the hours and hours of work put into perfecting their craft.

As consumers of sport, these kinds of values and interpersonal relationships athletes create and rely on for success rarely come into discussion because they aren’t shiny, glamorous or even visible things to the public. But the fact is, these kinds of characteristics are very often the driving forces behind success, or failure.

For athletes like Ryan Izzo, the senior co-captain for the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team, these kinds of values epitomize what he wants to be remembered for when he graduates.

“Since my freshmen year I have wanted to leave a legacy behind and to make mark on this program in a positive way, and I think that the best way to do that is to be a leader to every guy on this team,” Izzo said.

“While my goal for the season is to obviously do well and be successful, I want to leave here and have all of my teammates know that everything I did, I did for them.”

While Izzo wants to be remembered as a leader, he also wants to be remembered as a winner. Ever since the Minutemen failed to qualify for the postseason last fall, Izzo has had one goal in mind – to make a run at the postseason in 2015. He said that the only way to make the playoffs this year is if the team can manage to improve on a week-to-week basis.

“Well it’s been tough because we have struggled that way for the last two seasons,” he said.

“Last year we peaked early and ended up not qualifying for the playoffs because of it, so we need to be able to improve on something each week and grow on a consistent basis. The only way to do that is to stay healthy and you do that by staying on top of your exercises and eating and rest habits because once the season really gets going its impossible to get better if the team isn’t in shape and well rested.”

UMass opened the season 0-2, falling to both Army and North Carolina. Izzo has one goal on two shots through two games.

Izzo’s excelled on a personal level, but it’s another thing for the collective unit to follow in its leaders footsteps, which is why Izzo has shared some words of advice for the younger players on the team.

“Last year we had a lot of production from our young guys and we need them to pitch in again, so it’s crucial that we help everyone adjust to the college game,” he said.

“The key for these young guys is to know that you have to put in the work, because you just can’t get away with the things you could in high school, so to have a good attitude and to be able to take constructive criticism will only make these players better.”

In addition to being a leader on and off the field, Izzo has been focusing on his own game and will be the glue in the Minutemen midfield. The Walpole native was named USILA All-America as a redshirt-junior in 2014, and has also collected NEILA All-Region, All-CAA and CAA All-Tournament honors in his career.

His decorated resume and talent was enough to catch the eye of pro scouts, as the Ohio Machine recently selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 Major League Lacrosse draft with the No. 27 pick.

Even with a professional career to think about, the midfielder has sworn to not forget his duties as a captain and as a teammate to his fellow Minutemen, and will be entirely focused on the season until it’s over.

Only time will tell how Izzo will be remembered after he graduates, but even if the Minutemen fail to make the postseason his presence will surely continue to resonate with his teammates long after he is gone.

Nicholas Casale can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @NicholasLCasale.

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