ST. GEORGE — Two years ago, Joey Szabo and Tyler Ewen were key offensive contributors for the Blue Ridge lacrosse team.
The former high school teammates will be reunited again next season after Szabo signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Queens University in Charlotte on Friday morning.
“Seeing Queens in person was an amazing site with a beautiful campus and city,” he said. “To have one of my close friends go there and say nothing but good things was an eye-opener and really inspired me to go.”
During his visit, Szabo worked out with the Royals’ team and formed a strong bond with the Coach Chris Panos and his staff. The Blue Ridge product felt comfortable with the surrounding and the coaching style.
“I felt like that was the place for me,” Szabo said. “I like how the program is very welcoming, especially with all the guys I met being very open with me. It felt like a home right away and felt like a place I could fit into. The choice was a no-brainer seeing how much interest Coach Panos showed in me and how much I loved the atmosphere of the school.”
Szabo has turned in a strong campaign for the Barons this spring, registering approximately 10 goals and 12 assists this season.
That production didn’t go unnoticed during the recruiting process.
“The coaches say I play with a chip on my shoulder and I never give up,” Szabo said. “I always work hard and come to every practice with a positive attitude and support everyone around me.”
The senior understands there’s still plenty of work to do to have success at the next level.
“The staff at Queens believes I have what it takes to play the first year,” Szabo said. “It all just [depends] how hard I work to get a starting spot, which is my plan.”
Off the field, Szabo plans to major in sports management.
“It was a relief to get [this signing] off my shoulders, but that doesn’t mean I can take it easy,” Szabo said. “I still need to work hard in maintaining my academics and playing style to the point where I am happy.”
That hard work was justified earlier this year when he was the lone senior to be named team captain by a vote from coaches and players.
Szabo still has plenty left to play for this spring as he hopes to lead Blue Ridge to a long postseason run.
“It means a lot being able to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, knowing all the time spent practicing paid off,” Szabo said. “Heading into the next level, I hope to get better every day. Being the youngest guy out there, I also hope to compete and do my very best to benefit the team.”