BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — John Carroll University lacrosse player Tanner Gill-Snow came across the game at a very young age.
“My mom (Deb) is a physical education teacher and she was going to teach it in her class, and she brought a stick home one day and I picked it up and I haven’t put it down since. I just got hooked,” Gill-Snow said.
Last year’s Northern Lakes League Player of the Year has come a long way since then.
The 2019 Anthony Wayne graduate joined three of his friends, St. John’s graduates Sam Rodgers, Chandler Bankey and Nathan Aloi, as freshmen on the JCU team this year, but the team only got four games in before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The three grew up playing travel lacrosse together.
Gill-Snow, a 6-foot-1 midfielder from Waterville, managed to get one shot on goal, while Rodgers, a 6-2 defender from Monclova, started all four games and recovered eight ground balls. In an 18-8 victory over Wittenberg, Rodgers led the team with four ground balls.
Bankey attended AW schools until high school and he and Gill-Snow are rooming together at JCU. It was Bankey who got Gill-Snow interested in JCU.
“I played with Chandler all the way until then, so we’re pretty familiar with each other and it will be fun at the next level,” Gill-Snow said.
“I found out from Chandler when he committed, so it sparked my interest in the school and I visited and really liked it as well.”
AW coach Ross Mellgren is familiar with the three former St. John’s players. Bankey is a 5-foot-10 attacker and Aloi a 6-3 attacker. Mellgren also knows the reputation of the JCU program.
“I know a little bit about them (JCU) – they are a good quality program,” he said. “I’m going to get as many games in as I can to see those guys because I do know the other guys from St. John’s who are playing over there, too.
“Nathan Aloi and Chandler are both attack men. I think Aloi played a little of both for St. John’s. I think all three of them are going to help that JCU program a bunch. They’ll mold together really well.”
“It’s definitely and up-and-coming program,” Gill-Snow added. “They have been on the rise the past few years and they’re just getting better, so all this talent they are bringing in is going to be really fun.
“The coaches want to win, they have that competitive attitude and so do I, so I can’t wait to win.”
Joe Rautenstrauch was entering his fourth season as head coach at JCU and looked to continue building on the success of the past few years.
In his first three years there, he coached the Blue Streaks to two Ohio Athletic Conference regular season titles, three tournament titles and a 27-4 record in OAC contests. The addition of Gill-Snow and the three St. John’s grads only adds to the program’s strength, he says.
“Our standard here is to win OAC Championships,” he said, “which accomplishes the goal of advancing to the NCAA tournament. We graduated a total of four players from last year’s OAC championship team and feel a sense that we reloaded.
“Although we only have five seniors this year, we have a ton of returning experience including 85.5 percent of our points from last season. The biggest strength is knowing we don’t have to look far for a returning starter who can get the job done.”
Gill-Snow admits the speed of the college game is his biggest challenge.
“It’s a whole different speed, 15-minute quarters instead of 12, so it’s longer and faster,” he said. “So it’s something I have to get used to but I’m excited.”
After the four graduated from AW and St. John’s, JCU had them begin training and lifting weights last summer.
They moved on campus last August, but first Gill-Snow played in the Ohio North-South Senior All-Star Game at Olentangy Orange High School last July.