Junior reflects on committing to college when freshman for lacrosse

Michael Lia


Photo Credit: Bella Ranieri

Justin Douenias poses in Media Center on Feb. 14.

by Bella Ranieri, Staff Writer

When we’re younger, sports and extra activities our parents signed us up for were all fun and games. Sometime we’d fall in love with the activity, and other times it might just lead us to try something new. But when the activity sticks, it gives us a passion and drive like nothing else can.

Throughout Glen Rock High School there are many athletes who make the decision to commit to a college for athletics when they’re a junior or senior. But imagine making that life altering decision as a freshman.

“We have a lot of great players on the team, but Justin certainly puts the time in and it shows on the field that’s for sure, so it’s no accident that he is very talented at what he does,” Mike Escalante said.

Justin Douenias, junior at Glen Rock High school has fully committed the next four years of his life to Saint Joe’s University to play lacrosse and take the next step in getting an education.

Douenias has been playing lacrosse since the fourth grade. He’s played on several teams including the New Jersey Thunder, Tri State, Leading Edge, Riot, and both middle and high school teams. Douenias position has always been midfield. He enjoys the position because it focuses on offense which is what he’s best at.

“Eighth grade, when I first started getting emails that colleges were interested in me, it started to being realistic to me,” Douenias said. Schools interested in Douenias included Penn State, Lehigh, Rutgers, Holy Cross and Saint Joe’s.

When it came down to making the decision it was a close call between Lehigh and St. Joe’s. He felt as though St. Joe’s had a better tradition and environment for him, so the decision became clear. The August before his sophomore year, Douenias was fully committed to St. Joe’s.

As Douenias has gotten older his time and effort put into the game has increased. When he’s not in football season as the kicker for Glen Rock, he trains everyday for lacrosse.

Douenias said he’s always“trying to upgrade” his physical ability.

Douenias’s sometimes spends two and a half hours at the field to train, although during the winter, as it gets darker earlier, he trains for an hour and a half. Some of the key things he’ll do while training is adding weight to the top of his stick to focus on getting more speed with his throws while giving resistance. Setting up cones to act as opponents to practice getting around is also another part of his training.

All the work Douenias put into the sport is seen and valued by many including his head coach at Glen Rock, Mike Escalante.

Escalante explained, “Every year he isn’t satisfied with how his game is. He always adds to him game, different moves he has and different skill sets.”

Escalante said from the beginning when he first saw Douenias play in eighth grade he could tell he was obviously skilled. But what surprised him most was how mature Douenias was on and off the field.

Escalante sees Douenias as the type of player who influences how other players around him play. As Douenias is an upperclassmen now, Escalante expects him to make strides to be a leader for everyone around him and challenge his teammates to work just as hard as he does.

Douenias has visited St. Joe’s several time and has a good relationship with his soon to be coachers at the Division one school. Douenias has already started to connect with his upcoming teammates. There is a full class committed to Saint Joe’s (12 students) to play lacrosse and Douenias said that he’s in a group chat with all of them.

Douenias has devoted eight years into this sport.

“In the big world it’s gonna help me compete really and kind of work my way into the big world too,” Douenias said. “Lacrosse will help me there and definitely be worth it.”

Once Douenias leaves college he’s ready to focus on his future, but he hopes to stay with lacrosse throughout his life

“I think I would definitely wanna end up coaching really, and then if I have kids coaching them,” he said.