Steamboat Springs Jasper Gantick knew his senior season playing lacrosse at the University of Tampa would bring challenges, but even he didn’t know how difficult being a leader on the team would be through his final hurrah.
Gantick is riding high with the Spartans, who have been ranked as high as No. 4 in the country and have been a staple in the top 10 for much of the season. There’s been more to the story for the 2009 Steamboat Springs High School grad, however.
After being one of just three players to start every game a year ago, Gantick was elected captain. He’s only started three times this season, however, his role shifting as younger players and several high-profile transfers have muscled in for playing time.
Learning to accept that and learning how to continue to serve as one of the team’s leaders have proven as challenging as anything Gantick has found on the field.
“I started last year, but the kid who backed me up the last few years, he has a chance to be an all-American this year,” Gantick said. “I don’t have as many stats as I’ve had in years past, but at the same time, I can’t complain when the team is playing this well.”
The team certainly is playing well. Led by a trio of Division 1 transfers, the Spartans opened their season with wins in their first eight games.
They lost their first game late last month to Limestone, then the No. 3 team in the country, but rattled off three more wins, including a comeback victory against Colorado Mesa that proved extra sweet to Gantick.
The Spartans trailed, 7-2, at halftime of that game.
“At halftime, we went into the locker room and everyone was getting on each other and I really went off on them,” he said. “I said, ‘We’re not losing this game. Do what you have to do.’ It settled everyone back down.’”
And it helped pave the way to a 10-9 win.
Tampa has lost once since, on Saturday against then-No. 9 Mercyhurst, a slip-up that dropped the Spartans in the rankings to No. 6. One regular-season game remains after a Wednesday night roadtrip to play against Rollins. Then the Spartans will charge into the conference and NCAA tournaments.
Gantick got his start playing at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., redshirted his sophomore year and took up with the University of Tampa in Florida as a sophomore.
He’s been a fixture on the field for the team since, even as his role has changed.
“How much the other guys respect you shows how effective you are as a leader, and everyone still respects me,” he said. “I love playing and I love being in that leadership role.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9