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    Friday, July 19, 2024

    EL’s Drew Sager humbly awaits Notre Dame, Navy

    East Lyme — Three of his teammates were there last week, signing their names, absorbing the cool vibes of college “signing day” at East Lyme High. Drew Sager — make that state lacrosse co-record holder Drew Sager — was happy to cheer on his pals, fully aware that he, too, could have been up there, pen in hand, save his laser beam focus on The Bigger Picture.

    And so now when we teach there are rewards for patience, when we teach the best is yet to be, there is no need for pithy prose. Just go ahead and point at whatever Drew Sager happens to be doing at the time.

    Drew Sager, a senior at East Lyme, an all-state lacrosse candidate, has plans. And really, he should be the first to tell you about them.

    “I’m doing a Navy scholarship through an ROTC program,” Sager was saying Saturday, “and then I’m getting commissioned in the Navy after my four years at Notre Dame. It started a long time ago. My dad's in the Navy. My sister’s at the Naval Academy right now. My whole family. Both my grandfathers served in Vietnam. So it's embedded in our family. Serving my country is what I want to do with my life and that's what I'm hoping to do.”

    If you want to pause here to weep tears of joy, you won’t be alone. We’d heard there are kids like this left. Maybe only in the movies now. But then, here we were Saturday on East Lyme’s turfed lawn, trying to get Sager to discuss the recent day when his eight goals, seven assists and 15 total points gave him a spot in the state record book for most points in a game, per LaxNumbers.com.

    “We got some great face off (wins) from Jake (Correia) that day,” Sager said, deflecting praise like a goalie under fire. “I think he went like 80 percent and I also think broke a state record for best percentage in one game. Just a great team game. I didn’t know I broke a record until one of my old coaches told me about it.”

    The record lasted eight days. Fitch’s Boden Frost finished a game with three goals and 12 assists.

    “(Frost) is having a great season,” Sager said. “I played travel with him for a while. He's a great player. Great kid. Congrats to him. Twelve assists in the game is crazy.”

    And lest you think Sager might be shoveling the barn droppings here in an insincere attempt to appear humble, may we introduce East Lyme coach Gary Wight.

    “Drew is a phenomenal leader,” Wight said. “He understands the sense of team and really brings the kids together. He's about team. He’s that unselfish. He sees the big picture — the big picture of what needs to happen for the team and still stays humble.”

    Sager, who also plays hockey for Eastern Connecticut Eagles (his dad, Eric, is the coach) knew long ago that if sports are in his collegiate future, they’d be at the club level. Sager may be accused of being a dinosaur here for still daring to believe higher education still exists in our transfer portal/NIL/I-want-what’s-mine habitat.

    “I decided coming into high school when the whole recruiting process started. I wanted to go to school for academics,” Sager said. “Notre Dame was my number one from the beginning. Great campus, great people. The alumni connection is awesome. And obviously their academic reputation is great. So that's really what I was looking for. I'm super excited for it.”

    And yet he’s still a kid, finding his way through the daily swamps of self-indulgence all kids encounter. It’s not easy watching your friends soak in the accolades sometimes. And yet Sager stumbled upon this novel concept when watching his friends sign on the dotted line the other day: be happy for them.

    “I’ve thought about what playing in college would be like. Sure. Definitely this last week when we had a signing day at school,” Sager said. “Spencer Kennedy (Plymouth State), Jack Campbell (Nichols), Juan (Morales, Jr. also headed to Nichols) they’re playing in college. All phenomenal players, great kids. Congrats to them. It would be cool to play in college, but I’m going to play club and stay on the path.”

    The path to serving his country.

    Meanwhile, there is the matter of the season for the Vikings, who got their first encounter Saturday with Stonington, the program that defeated East Lyme in last season’s ECC finals. The Vikings threw the Bears down the stairs with two touchdowns and a field goal in a 17-1 win.

    “The bigger revenge would be going back to the championship game and taking what we want,” Sager said. “But we definitely had a little chip on our shoulder coming in. Everybody was talking about it. We definitely needed this win. It was kind of a revenge game, but we would have loved to have the same matchup as last year with those same kids.”

    The 2024 ECC playoffs await. So does Notre Dame and Navy. Cheer, cheer for old Drew Sager.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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