John Roulston used to be the one trying to score goals, not stop them.
"I played attack for four years," Roulston said. "Then my team needed a goalie to play and I figured, 'I guess I'll play. I'll get on the field more.'"
Maybe, but Roulston's first foray into the goalkeeping process wasn't exactly the most memorable of experiences.
"The first time I got hit with a shot, I started bawling my eyes out," Roulston said with a chuckle. "I told my dad (David), 'I'm not playing anymore. I quit,' and he basically just said, 'You signed up for it. You're not quitting.'"
Turns out Pops might know a thing or two. Since that delightful first trip into the cage, Roulston has blossomed year after year, splitting NXT 2015 duties with Zach Longacre and positioning himself for a shot to take over Conestoga's starting job this spring. He's still got some time to go in high school, but Roulston locked up his collegiate future this weekend when he issued a verbal commitment to join Drexel's class of 2019. Roulston becomes the second NXT 2015 and Conestoga player to commit in the past week after Robbie Sedlak committed toVirginia Military Institute.
"I was really surprised that Drexel didn't have a goalie for my class," Roulston admitted. "But it's really hard to recruit for goalies. I really liked Drexel because of the players and the coaches and (assistant coach Chris) Collins seems like a really cool guy and (Dragons head coach Brian) Voelkerwas really excited about me committing. The academics at Drexel are awesome. The co-op program is incredible and it lets you get some work experience before you get out of college."
Roulston, who will likely study one of sports management, engineering and business, has seen his stock rise significantly as he's blossomed as a goalie. It's a relief, too, for him to see his hard work come to fruition.
"It's really an honor," Roulston said. "It's something that I've been working hard for since sixth grade. All the hard work is finally paying off and it's an awesome feeling."
Coming over to play club ball for NXT didn't hurt, either.
"The coaches have been really great," Roulston added, "especially coach (Matt) Lerman. He helped me a lot and gave me a ton of tips."
With last year's Conestoga starting goalie RobbieZonino likely assuming the starting role immediately at the University of MIchigan, Roulston is ready for a chance to backstop the Pioneers to another state title. There's plenty of optimism in the Conestoga camp that the Pioneers can contend for their fourth PIAA title in five years.
"We only lost seven seniors, so we're expecting a big season," Roulston said. "We have a lot of returning guys and the goalie job is between me and Jack Green, another junior. I'm excited for it."
And Drexel is excited to have Roulston be its potential gamechanger in the cage.
It was far from the route he envisioned taking to choosing a school, but when Robbie Sedlak's recruitment finally came to an end and the NXT 2015 defenseman elected to spend his college career at the Virginia Military Institute, everything magically fit right in to his family's rich and storied tradition with the United States Armed Forces.
"My grandfather, Andy Daniel, was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and so was my great-grandfather, Darrell Minard," Sedlak said. "My other grandfather, Bob Sedlak, was in the Army Reserve, so there's a lot of history with the military in my family, which definitely helped the process along. (The military) has always been in the back of my mind and as I investigated and thought more about it, it became clear that it was something I wanted to do. The potential opportunity to serve your country is awesome."
That's not just lip service, either. Sedlak, a Conestoga junior, started Pioneers for Patriots, a club with the goal to raise money for wounded veterans.
"I started it this year," Sedlak said. "I've always wanted to give back to men and women who have given us so much to civilians and we figured a good way to do that would be to create a club to raise money. We got a bunch of donations last week like underwear and deoderant, so we're going to send that out. We're trying to spread the word for soldiers who need our help."
Sedlak admitted that his recruitment didn't initially go the way he envisioned, but things worked out well for him down the road.
"I definitely had a few doors shut in my face because of my height, so that played a lot into it," said Sedlak, who also strongly considered Siena, Monmouth and Salisbury. "The process was real long - longer than I wanted it to be - but both NXT and Conestoga helped me in reaching out to schools. My mom (Wendy) helped so much, too, taking me everywhere for lacrosse. But as one door closes, another one opens, and for that reason I feel like I'm supposed to be here and I'm excited for what I have in front of me."
With college recruiting accelerating at an incredible rate, Sedlak anticipated making a decision sooner than he did, but VMI's recruiting philosophy meshed perfectly with him.
"They recruit later," Sedlak said of VMI. "They say that they want to recruit men instead of young kids, so that intrigued me. I went on an overnight and loved the visit. All the guys seem to be on a straight and narrow path, so I'm excited to get there."
That includes one more summer with NXT and two seasons with the Pioneers, a team that expects to be back in the hunt for another PIAA title. Conestoga has three state titles in the past four years and played in the state title game last year in what many deemed a "rebuilding" year. Not bad, right? But expectations are always high at Conestoga, so Sedlak thinks his Pioneers can do big things.
"We made it back (to the state title game) last year after losing so many key guys," Sedlak said. "Expectations are high and we want to fulfill them. We want to bring a state championship back to Conestoga."
The NXT Lacrosse Club will hold tryouts for the 2018 team in September 2014 at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA.
Tryouts will be two days, and all interested players are highly encouraged to attend both sessions.
NXT Lacrosse Club is NXTsports’ high school lacrosse club and in only three years has emerged as a national force on the elite club circuit.
NXT L.C. is different from other lacrosse clubs because of a commitment to year-round training and skill development, a commitment to ongoing advice and communication regarding the college recruiting process, and an ability to place players in the most elite recruiting events in the country, many of which are hosted and run by NXTsports.
NXT will select 24 players to make up its 2018 team. NXT does not field B teams. The team selection shall be made solely through the tryout process, no outside information about players shall be considered.
Players entering the NXT Lacrosse program can expect the following:
• NXT will train year-round at the professional-grade facilities at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square. NXT will practice outdoors on turf in the Fall and Summer, and indoors in EA’s fieldhouse during the winter. Players are expected to commit to the practice schedule. Practice plans will be distributed in advance of every practice, and players are expected to attend practice prepared to improve.
• NXT will participate in a full schedule of fall and summer tournaments during the November and June/July club circuit windows. NXT will also incorporate box lacrosse concept training during the winter and will participate in at least one box tournament.
• NXT players are guaranteed access to participate in the Philly Showcase, the nation’s leading and best-attended Fall recruiting event. The 2013 Philly Showcase was attended by 186 college coaches.
• Under the terms of NXT’s relationship with Nike, NXT players will be outfitted exclusively in Nike uniforms and apparel.
• Under NXT’s arrangement with Next Level Video, starting this fall every game played by every NXT team will be professionally filmed in Broadcast Quality HD from an elevated angle. All NXT players will have access to video and to seasonally updated highlight reels.
• All players and their families are expected to participate in regular meetings at the NXTsports offices at the end of each season to recap player development goals and college plans.
• NXT selects players at the beginning of their ninth grade year and commits to working with them throughout high school. NXT players are not ever asked to “re-tryout.” Once accepted, the only players who ever are asked to leave are those who cannot commit to NXT’s program.
All players interested in becoming part of NXT are encouraged to attend tryouts. Registration for tryouts is available at NXTLacrosse.com. There is a $30 tryout fee designed to cover facility and staff costs. All players attending tryouts will receive a NXT Lacrosse Club custom numbered reversible that is theirs to keep.
Finally, please be aware that NXT’s system is not for everyone. There are many excellent club lacrosse programs in the area, and if you wish to play for one of them NXT fully understands. However NXT commits fully to its players and expects a similar commitment in return.