Travis to continue stellar lacrosse career at Brewster Academy
Lacrosse wasn’t always Rome Free Academy graduate Paxton Travis’s passion.
In fact, there was a time where hockey was his go-to sport. But after constant texts and pleas from RFA lacrosse coach Guy Calandra, Travis reluctantly signed up and the rest is history.
Travis will be heading to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, on Friday, Sept. 8 to complete a year of prep school and to play on the lacrosse team before joining the Division I Jacksonville University lacrosse squad in 2018. Travis verbally committed to the Dolphins in January.
While developing his love for lacrosse later in life, Travis noted that prep school was something he always strongly considered, but never envisioned it as a reality until he visited the campus and immediately felt a connection.
“It’s more so for that extra year in the classroom,” said Travis about his decision to go to the private preparatory school. “I had decent grades in school, but it will help me learn how to study for college.”
His road to Brewster hasn’t been an easy one, noting that he has suffered his fair share of injuries and illnesses. His senior year, he had surgery that sidelined him for most of the hockey season to remove a bunion on his foot. Another time, he was shelved for pneumonia.
“He’s had a tough go with injuries and stuff,” said Calandra. “But when we’ve had him and he’s been healthy, he’s been great.”
His commitment to the Dolphins was a surreal experience for Travis, admitting he thought he was going to be in rough shape when he went down for a tournament in January. While recovering from his surgery, he had gained about 30 pounds and his first time playing post-surgery was at the tournament. He admitted he felt a “little rusty.”
The rust wore off and by the end of the tournament, Travis was offered a position on the team. “It was absolutely crazy,” added Travis. “We all shook hands and it just felt right. It felt like a brotherhood.”
During his time as a Black Knight, he amassed 86 goals, 56 assists and 107 ground balls. “He’s an unselfish kid and he’s always concerned about his teammates,” added Calandra.
Travis noted that he tried out for the modified lacrosse team in seventh grade after Calandra asked him and brother Preston to join the team. He stopped playing after eighth grade to focus his skills on hockey, which he was peaking in at the time.
“He kept texting me everyday and asked me to try out for the team,” recalled Travis. “My freshman year, which was my brother’s senior year, I decided ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ I had decent stick skills and good hands, but I was assigned to the junior varsity team.”
Travis accepted the assignment, but wanted to prove himself to Calandra and asked for another chance to join the varsity squad. He proved to Calandra his drive to play on the varsity team and since then, Travis has been one of Calandra’s secret offensive weapons.
Calandra noted that Travis’s talent has no ceiling and he can only imagine the attack getting better. With linemates like Justin Hoke and Sam Serrano, he noted that it’s tough to hide skill sets when kids have them.
“Colleges look at that,” explained Calandra, noting that Travis is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. “They look at individual talent, sure, but they look more if a kid can set up his teammate to score from three-feet out instead of ripping a shot from six-feet out.”
Travis’s lacrosse career has given him opportunity to play at the international level, joining Team Philippines the summer after his sophomore year. He’s competed in several tournaments along the east coast and will play with the international team at the World Championship in Israel in 2018, which he predicts will be a “crazy experience.”
But for Travis, it’s not about the opportunities to jet set around the world or load up a stat sheet. His love for the game is contagious and he wants to promote it to as many kids as he can.
In fact, he’s already got a few fans in the Hammon boys, who actually wrote letters of recommendations to Jacksonville to illustrate how much of an impact Travis has had for their love of the game.
“Luke’s my youngest and he absolutely adores Paxton,” said mother Erica Riolo, admitting that Luke has even named his sticks after Travis.
“He’s like a big teddy bear. He really has formed such a bond with them.”
Riolo noted that all Luke wanted for his birthday was for Travis to come to his birthday party. Not only did Travis attend, he also brought a fidget spinner from California, where he was vacationing with his mother.
“He’s just a great kid,” said Riolo. “He’s always texting the boys and telling them good job and asking how their games went or whatever. Being a teacher, you don’t normally see that kind of compassion with teenage boys.”
For Travis, he can never imagine lacrosse out of his life. The ultimate goal is to go pro someday, but if that doesn’t happen, he’d love to coach or open and manage a lacrosse equipment shop.
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