Mendelson lifts Staples, heads to Manhattan
Published 1:11 am, Friday, July 2, 2010
Kyle Mendelson prides himself on being a student of lacrosse. A senior for the Staples boys lacrosse team, his fast learning game enabled him to quickly master the game and contribute to the team's undefeated regular season and reaching the Class L semifinals. This also led him to be recruited by Manhattan College, which is where he'll play at next year.
He had 13 goals and four assists for 17 points this year in earning All-FCIAC Honorable Mention and Second Team All-State.
"It was really nice to see my hard work pay off and be recognized as one of the best players in the state," Mendelson said.
As a starting midfielder, he played an integral role in Staples' offense. He had a lethal shot and was fifth on the team in goals scored.
"I spent a lot of time playing wall ball and I'm devoted to the game," Mendelson said.
Although he had only four assists, his passing was instrumental to the Wreckers' success.
"To me, passing is more important than goal scoring," Mendelson said. "You see things on the field and what a play should look like. Senior year, I found it more important to move the ball around and coordinate the offense even if it didn't bolster my individual statistics. Everything paid off senior year."
The ability to fake out his opponents contributed to his offensive game.
"When you play the game long enough, you know what works and what doesn't work," Mendelson said. "I spend a lot of time watching film and I'm frequently in the weight room. I consider myself a student of the game and my dedication helped me become the player I am today."
Coming from a family that loves lacrosse led him down this path. His paternal grandfather Roy attended Syracuse University and frequently attended its lacrosse games and his father Steven played for Ardsley High School. Steven would have played collegiately if it weren't for an ankle injury and his mother, Lisa, grew up in Maryland, which is a hotbed for lacrosse.
When the younger Mendelson was 3, Steve bought him a lacrosse stick and they played catch together, which began the process of developing the future Wrecker into a player.
Spending time in the weight room increased his strength and helped him win battles in the trenches. This contributed to his success in either picking up 19 ground balls or his battling in the trenches freed up his teammates to pick up the ground balls.
"The small things are more important than personal goals," Mendelson said. "You have to fight in the midfield for possession. Our defense was incredible and I wanted to repay them."
Although he first picked up a stick at age 3, he didn't begin playing organized lacrosse until fourth grade. Waiting to play it wasn't a problem for him.
Growing up, Mendelson played PAL football and basketball and also tried soccer and baseball. In fact, he played soccer for Fairfield Prep freshman and sophomore year before transferring to Staples as a junior. Adjusting to a new school wasn't a problem for him.
"It seemed like the right move for me," he recalled. "Prep was an awesome environment, but at the end of the day, I played with the Staples kids while growing up. They had a chance to accomplish something and I wanted to be a part of it."
Even though he was never a captain, he always acted like a leader. He received the William L. Rexford award from the team in recognition for his courage, character and desire to succeed on and off the field.
"Right away, after talking to him, I could tell he wanted to make Staples lacrosse work and achieve something," Wreckers Coach Paul McNulty said. "That was his attitude all the way throughout and it worked out for him in the end. He showed great leadership and talked in practice to get his teammates prepared."
He showed leadership in his willingness to sacrifice his well-being and take risks. He played the last two playoff games with a broken bone in his left foot, a fifth menatarsel. Currently, he's wearing a boot in his left foot while it's healing.
"It was my last game and as a leader, that's what you do," Mendelson said. "Regardless of how bad the injury is, you have to be there for your team."
One player who looked up to him is his brother, Quinn, a varsity defender who just finished his freshman year. Similar to his older brother, Quinn first held a stick at age 3.
"Kyle talked to me about the game and kept me motivated," Quinn Mendelson said. "He taught me almost everything I know and I can't say enough good things about him."
Academically, he's successful in the classroom as well. He took AP US History and English and social studies are his favorite subjects.
"Because I wanted to be recruited to play lacrosse and in order to get where I wanted to be, I knew I had to excel in the classroom as well as in lacrosse," Mendelson said.
At Manhattan College he will be majoring in business. He ultimately wants to become a businessman but for now, knows he'll have to raise his game to the next level because he'll face tougher competition in college.
"My work ethic has gotten me this far and I have to keep improving," Mendelson said. "I have to continue to work on my game to get to a higher level. I have to keep on doing what made me successful in high school."