Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of several stories on the Nike Ride held Monday and Tuesday in Beaverton, Ore.
By Nolan Weidner
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 7/27/13
IF you dream of someday being lacrosse royalty, it’s always a good thing when you can spend time with players at the top of the sport.
That’s what Syracuse-area players Taylor Gebhardt and Emily Ehle got to do Monday and Tuesday when they flew to Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., for the inaugural Nike Ride event.
The two-day affair – part of a Nike push to become more of a player in the sport – brought elite high school players from across the country to the Portland suburb to train, engage in skills competition, check out new equipment, play in an all-star game, and take home armfuls of free gear.
Nike rosters for the event included 42 girls and 35 boys. Ehle and Gebhardt were the only Syracuse-area players invited.
Gebhardt, a rising junior at C.W. Baker High in Baldwinsville, called the experience “awesome.”
The attacker, an All-Central New York selection last spring after helping her school to a runner-up finish in New York’s Class A tournament, said the contact with coaches Kara Cannizzaro and Michelle Tumolo was the highlight of her experience.
Cannizzaro, recently graduated from North Carolina, won the Honda Sports Award as the best woman lacrosse player in the country after leading the Tar Heels to a national championship.
Tumolo, an All-American at Syracuse University as a junior, was a captain and dynamic attacker for the Orange women’s team – the eventual national runner-up – until a knee injury cut her season short.
“It’s really cool being coached by these people,” she said. “It’s fun, because all of the girls got to talk to them. It wasn’t like impersonal or anything. They wanted to learn all about us.”
Ehle, who will be a sophomore midfielder for state Class B champion Christian Brothers Academy, was equally awed by the two college stars. And she got to spend some quality time with Cannizzaro, who also hails from the Syracuse area (Cazenovia) because the two sat together on the flight out.
“They’re so used to being in such high-up games,” Ehle said of Cannizzaro and Tumolo. “They kind of taught us how to go about it. They told us about the high school and college experience – how they did it.”
Ehle, who had 33 goals and 25 assists as a freshman for the Brothers, said she was impressed by Cannizzaro’s admonition to look for the right college fit, rather than just going for the best deal in lacrosse.
“She wanted us to go to a college and have a good experience, not just in lacrosse,” Ehle said. “She talked about how North Carolina was the best experience in her life.”
Gebhardt, who recently committed to play at Georgetown after graduating from high school in 2015, said she got some special pointers from Tumolo about being a crease attacker. The lessons were even more valuable, Gebhardt said, since both players are left-handed.
But the real value for Gebhardt, who scored 47 goals and dished out 10 assists for the Bees last season, was the leadership styles she saw in the coaches and other players.
“I picked up on Michelle and Kara – how they’re always high-energy,” said Gebhardt, who anticipates being more of a leader in her junior season.
In Tuesday’s all-star game, one of the final events of the Ride, Gebhardt scored three goals to help her squad – Team Arise – to an 18-11 victory over Team Lunar. Ehle scored one goal for Team Lunar.
“It’s always good to play well in those situations, because you know you’re going to play those girls in college,” Gebhardt said.
Click here for Thomas Boyd’s photo gallery from The Ride