By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/29/14
Several days have passed since his return from Beaverton at the Oregon home of Nike, but Christian Feliziani says the memories of competing in Nike’s The Ride will not fade quickly.
“I learned that I can compete with the best players in the country; I’ve also realized how much hard work it takes to be at that level,” said the Episcopal Academy 2016 face-off specialist.
“Overall the competition was the best I’ve ever competed against, and for me to be selected to participate on this journey was truly a blessing.”
Feliziani was one of 10 Philly players in the 2016 class chosen to be among the 100 boys and girls selected for the three-day competition, now in its second year. The event, held July 20-22, has drawn national interest due to the level of talent, the instruction and preparation by Nike Lacrosse, as well as the focus on free gear for participants.
Besides Feliziani (committed to Ohio State), Philly boys that competed included Haverford School midfielder/attackman Dox Aitken (Virginia), Avon Grove midfielder Beau Kush (North Carolina), Radnor midfielder Jack Wilson (Maryland), Salesianum School defenseman Pat Lyons (North Carolina), Lawrenceville School goalie Griffin Thompson (Virginia) and Malvern Prep attackman Kyle Anderson and Adam Goldner. Coaches included Andy Hayes (Episcopal Academy) and John Nostrant (Haverford School).
Radnor’s Katie Quinn (midfielder) was the lone Philly girl that competed.
“Every day was full of surprises from the moment we arrived until we left Portland,” said Quinn. “We got to test new gear every day and would arrive the next day with an entire new outfit laid out for us.
“Also, they had Nike sponsored athletes talk to us about their dedication to their sport and how they increase their game. At Nike headquarters, they set up an amazing lounge for the athletes with video games, smoothies, music, and TVs. It was such an honor being there and being treated like celebrities. There were even photographers everywhere we went on and off the field.”
Nike handed out MVP and position awards and held games on the last day. Aitken was the big Philly winner as he scored best in the SPARQ testing (Shuttle run, a short sprint, power medicine ball toss and vertical leap).
“Winning it was an amazing honor. My best scores were in the shuttle and the vertical leap,” said Aitken. “I know I have to work on my explosions and the power toss in order to improve.”
Aitken said the talent level was exceptional. “Everyone brought different strengths to the game and made it very competitive,” he said. “It taught me to keep working hard and to always try to perform at the highest level.”
“I liked being able to meet many new people, being honored by the invitation on behalf of Nike and having the playing experience at the beautiful Nike campus. I also liked playing for my coach, John Nostrant.”
Feliziano had the task of matching up with Smithtown East (N.Y.) FO standout Gerard Arceri (Penn State) in the game. By all accounts, the match was even.
“I thought I fared well against Arceri and it ended up being a draw,” said Feliziani. “Facing off is a team effort and my wing guys did a fantastic job with the ground balls. I know Gerard is one of the best face-off kids out there, however; when I’m trained and ready to go I know I can compete with anyone in this country.
“It was truly an honor to compete against the best kids in my grade from all over the country. I now know where I stand in that category and I need to continue to improve all aspects of my game.’
How was he treated by Nike?
“I felt as I was being treated like a professional athlete,” Feliziani said.
Quinn said she was forced to raise her level of play at the event.
“The competition was the highest level of lacrosse I have played so far in my life,” she said. “Everyone earned their way there and got an opportunity to prove it again. This event showed me that lacrosse has spread drastically and is only going to continue to grow.
“Going into next year I have learned if you set your teammates up to look good, it makes you look good. At the end of the day, it isn’t about who scores on a team, it is about which team scores.”
Quinn noted how the players quickly bonded.
“Since I was the only player from PA it was tough at first because some girls knew each other through club or future schools, but once everyone introduced each other it was great,” she said. “Everyone got along well and it paid off on the field. My roommate, Kara (Wollmers of St. John School), was from Texas and she was the only girl from her state as well, so we got along great too.
“My favorite part of the whole event was the locker room and playing in the new gear. Each athlete had their own locker with their name on it, and it was always a shock to see what new stuff we would get each day.
“I took home the goggles, stick, shorts, tops, cleats, a bag, spandex, and socks. I think my favorite piece is the Nike stick, I love it because it has the newest stringing and it is all black with neon yellow shooting strings. It looks really intense.”