Give Nike credit. It’s seemingly always ahead of the game.
That’s why the company came up with “The Ride”, a showcase featuring some of the best underclassmen high school players in the country. Delco was well-represented in the event as six county boys and one coach made their way to Beaverton, Ore..
The Haverford School’s 2015 class was well-represented in the form of attackman Grant Ament, midfielder Drew Supinski, defenseman Noah Lejman and head coach John Nostrant. The Fords’ chief rival, Episcopal Academy, also had a strong presence with 2015 All-Delco attackman Curtis Zappala and goalie Colin Reder. Ament claimed the tournament’s Top Attack honors
Those selected not only firmly entrenched their names among the list of elite players nationally, but also received the royal treatment from Nike. The company footed the bill to have players from around the country come in and participate in what ended up being a top-notch event. According to Zappala, news of the event drew significant local attention.
“It was incredible,” the Maryland verbal said. “There were these little kids from all the local towns that came to watch us play. On the first day, (former Syracuse standout and Hamilton Nationals midfielder) Jeremy Thompson, (2009 Tewaaraton Award winner) Max Seibald (of Cornell) and a couple of the big-time girls players talked to us. Thompson gave us a 25-minute long Indian blessing, which was pretty cool.”
Athletes went through SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) training and got to spend time in the Tiger Woods Center where each player had a locker to himself with a nameplate. Nike made sure to continually refill each player’s locker with new gear, something that always goes over well.
“I got in the 91st percentile of the kids there for the SPARQ training,” Zappala said, “so I was kind of surprised but really happy. And when we played in the game (a 13-11 win for Zappala and Reder’s Team Huarache), playing with different kids was unreal. I’m usually the main feeder for EA, but because I played with (Smithtown West, N.Y.’s) Ryan Keenan, I played crease a lot, which was pretty cool.”
Ament said that the amount of sheer talent assembled made it important to gel quickly with teammates. One-on-one heroics probably weren’t going to work against the nation’s elite defensemen, so developing instant chemistry was a must.
“It was tough, but it was what I was looking for. I knew that I wasn’t going to beat my defender clean. They were too good for that,” the Penn State verbal said. “So I liked being behind the net, feeding and drawing slides that’s kind of what made me successful out there. But the whole experience was everything I expected and beyond. Through the gear, coaching and training, they just treated us like professionals.”
For Reder, the opportunity to play with and against some of the nation’s best was one he’ll treasure for a long, long time. All-star settings aren’t exactly conducive to defense and goaltending, but Reder held his own and was good enough to make Insidelacrosse’s top 10 from the event along with Zappala and Ament.
“It was amazing,” said Reder, a North Carolina verbal. “I can’t even explain it. It was crazy how much energy they put into one event. There were kids from all over the country and pretty much everyone is committed to a top-10 Division I school. The first half of the game was pretty competitive, but the second half was a lot more fun. You had people trying trick shots and goalies trying to run up and score. Stuff like that.”
“But it was all so unreal. They showed us all of the history items, like the first Nike shoes and things like that. The Ride was just amazing.”
For a full listing of awards won at The Ride, click here.