June 21, 2008

June 21, 2008

The fifth-annual US Lacrosse National Senior Showcase, an all-star exhibition featuring 96 of the top high school boys' lacrosse seniors in the country and sponsored by Warrior, is Saturday at Benedictine University in Chicago.

Click here for a PDF of the all-star rosters representing the North, South, East and West regions, or here for an event schedule.

by Steven Russolillo, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Yes, Eddie Bambino's heard them all.

The recent graduate from William Penn Charter (Yardley, Pa.) said his last name commonly draws references to the Great Bambino or the Sultan of Swat. People even ask if he knows what it means in Italian. (It means "baby.")

With a last name like Bambino, the possibilities are endless. But ironically, the 5-foot-10 midfielder says everybody just calls him Eddie, and throughout his whole life, he's never had a nickname.

"I guess my friends just aren't that creative," Bambino says.

Nevertheless, Bambino, mild and easygoing otherwise, is a beast on the lacrosse field. The Ohio State-bound midfielder overcame torn ligaments in his left foot to help lead his high school team to the final four of the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA) tournament. On Saturday, Bambino will be among 96 players selected to participate in the US Lacrosse National Senior Showcase, an all-star event for high school seniors at Benedictine University in Chicago, as a member of the East team.

"It's a great opportunity to play with some of the best kids in the country," Bambino says. "I'm honored and excited about the opportunity that lies ahead."

Bambino - also a football player for Penn Charter - first picked up a lacrosse stick when he was in fifth grade and started training seriously for lacrosse when he became a freshman. He played five years on the high school team, which culminated with a tumultuous season this year that had several highs and lows.

The Quakers won 10 of their first 12 games, but hit a midseason lull after Bambino suffered torn ligaments in his left foot. An opposing player stepped on his foot during the middle of a game, causing the injury. "He must have hit it in the right spot, because I was in excruciating pain and couldn't walk afterwards," Bambino says.

During the rehabilitation process, Bambino had to wear a protective boot that immobilized his foot. There was even some thought that Bambino should have surgery to correct the injury. But the foot ultimately healed without surgery, and he returned to action toward the end of the season.

"I wanted him to play even when he had the boot on. That's how much we missed him," says Penn Charter head coach Pat McDonough. "We went through some highs and lows, but when he did come back, he just gave us that kick - that spark. Getting him back really put the pieces of the puzzle in place."

McDonough - who just finished his seventh season as Penn Charter's head coach - says Bambino is a quiet kid, but on the rare occasions that he does raise his voice and get fired up, his teammates certainly took notice.

Bambino's blazing speed helped initiate the offense and spread the field, which gave his teammates more room to maneuver, McDonough says.

"He's just so fast, and he commands a double-team every time he dodges," McDonough says. "So if you don't slide to him, he's going to get a shot off."

Bambino led the No. 12-ranked Quakers to a 7-5 upset victory over No. 4 Ridley in late May that propelled his squad to the state semifinals. However, Penn Charter fell short against top-seeded Malvern Prep.

After being recruited by eight Division I schools, Bambino said he's planning to attend Ohio State in the fall. Unfortunately, Joe Breschi - the coach who recruited him - resigned this week to return to his alma mater and take the head coaching position at the University of North Carolina.

"I wish [Breschi] the best, but it doesn't change my feelings about Ohio State," Bambino says. "It's hard to say if my decision would have been different. But I know I chose Ohio State first and foremost for the school itself."

As for Penn Charter, McDonough says the squad will miss the consistent presence Bambino provided at the midfield position.

"He initiated 80 percent of our offense. It's certainly going to be hard to replace that," McDonough says. "When you talk about that well-rounded student athlete, Eddie really fits the bill.

"He's just a solid, level-headed kid that doesn't do a lot out of character, which makes it hard to come up with those funny nicknames that stick with you."
Are you a graduating high school senior with a great story to tell? E-mail it essay@laxmagazine.com for an opportunity to be the "Parting Shot" guest columnist in the August issue of Lacrosse Magazine.
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