Parkland Press

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB James Cipolla led the Parkland boys lacrosse team to new heights over his four-year career. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB James Cipolla led the Parkland boys lacrosse team to new heights over his four-year career. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Cipolla helped elevate Trojan boys lacrosse

Saturday, August 3, 2019 by CJ HEMERLY Special to the Press in Sports

Before 2019 Parkland High School graduate James Cipolla enrolled at the school, the boys lacrosse program hadn’t won a championship of any kind. After his four years in red and white, the Trojans have earned two district championships and two league titles. To say Cipolla made his mark on the program is an understatement.

And after another successful season on the field, Cipolla has been named the Parkland Press Male Athlete of the Year.

“It means a lot,” said Cipolla. “I think the success was a big thing to me at Parkland. I know before we came in we never won a district championship, so that was a big thing to me and everyone else. I know me and my teammates wanted to bring at least one home before leaving the school because we have been playing together for so many years now. I think it was a big change for sure because now the expectation as a Parkland lacrosse player is to be contending for a district championship every year.”

As a senior, Cipolla led his team with 54 goals and 32 assists on his way to being honored as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Most Valuable Player for the second straight year.

“It was a very humbling thing to win back-to-back MVP’s,” said Cipolla. “However, none of that would have been possible without my teammates. Every single one of them made me a better player every single day. They were all like my brothers so that really helped because I always wanted to do anything I could for them on and off the field to make them better as well and have a successful team as a whole. For the working to get there part it was just hours upon hours of practice from a young age until now. Hitting the wall, shooting and lifting. You just have to be willing to put in the work.”

After winning two consecutive District 11 championships in 2017 and 2018, the Trojans stormed through their 2019 campaign and were destined to three-peat. They won their first 20 games, including another EPC title, but in the district final, rival Emmaus was up to the challenge of taking down undefeated Parkland. In a back-and-forth game, it was the Green Hornets who found the back of the net last in a sudden death overtime victory.

Despite the disappointment, Cipolla helped put Parkland lacrosse on the map. As a four-year starter, he finished his career with 192 goals and 110 assists. Growing up in a lacrosse family surely helped him become successful at the game. His mother Dawn is the Parkland girls head coach, and older sister Brooke won a couple of district titles with the Trojans in her playing days.

“My family helped a lot,” Cipolla said. “My mom used to practice all the time in the backyard with me when I was younger. She never took it easy either. One time when I was super young we were having a catch and she was throwing the ball pretty hard to work on my stick skills and it nailed me in the face and I remember her feeling so bad about it, but in the long run it helped me.

“My siblings always were in the backyard with me helping me practice and get better. Not only that, but it was their constant support that helped go a long way. My dad did later pick up lacrosse and play in the men’s summer league around here for a little so he was always out practicing with us when we were younger as well.”

The next step for Cipolla as a student-athlete will be at Ohio State University, where he will continue his lacrosse career.

“I visited 13 different schools my freshman year and had it narrowed to two,” said Cipolla. “I went on a second visit to both and on my ride home from Ohio State I just had a feeling in my gut that I knew I wanted to go there. About halfway through the ride home I turned to my mom and I said I was going to commit to Ohio State.

“It was really all just a feeling that I knew I wanted to go. But it also had great facilities, a great coaching stuff, great campus, and a great blueprint for success. I am going to be studying health and rehabilitation sciences there to hopefully get into med school after.”