Freshman Alex Hrisanthopoulos verbally committed to play lacrosse at Hofstra University, a Division I school, in fall 2016. But despite his initial plans in high school, Hrisanthopoulos started his run on the Emerson College Division III men’s lacrosse team last month.
Before Hrisanthopoulos started playing lacrosse, he played Pop Warner football in Carlsbad, California throughout elementary school. The coach of his football team in fourth grade recommended that his entire team should start playing lacrosse. At the time, Hrisanthopoulos did not know what lacrosse was.
“On the West Coast, lacrosse isn’t anything like how it is [on the East Coast],” Hrisanthopoulos said. “There’s an established culture [on the East Coast], and on the West Coast, that culture is still developing.”
When his football team took to the field as a lacrosse team for their first game, they lost 15-1.
“None of us knew what we were doing,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “We were just throwing our bodies around like a bunch of football players.”
After that first game, Hrisanthopoulos continued to play lacrosse throughout the football offseason. He stopped playing football in 2012 because he suffered multiple head injuries during games.
In the same year, Hrisanthopoulos developed a passion for film in his broadcasting class at Carlsbad High School.
“Ever since I was a young kid, I have always loved movies,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “When I joined the broadcasting club at my middle school, I fell in love with making short videos. I would always be the kid with a camera in his hands filming everything.”
Hrisanthopoulos said he felt pressured to get recruited as a Division I athlete when he started high school after several other students began committing to schools. Hrisanthopoulos decided to look for a Division I school that offered a degree in sports broadcasting, even though he knew he wanted to go into film production.
“You’re pressured to put in a lot of work because everybody wants to play on a Division I team,” Hrisanthopoulos said.
He talked with the head coach at Hofstra University during his junior year and verbally committed to the school as a journalism major.
Hrisanthopoulos then joined the Carlsbad High School Film Academy and realized he wanted to pursue film production instead of sports broadcasting.
“I produced many films throughout this time. Each film I made was better than the last because I fell more in love with the medium,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “Even after I graduated, I have been working on projects in my own time. These classes are where I grew my love for making narrative films.”
After deciding to pursue a degree in film, Hrisanthopoulos started looking for schools where he could play lacrosse and study film.
While Hrisanthopoulos played at a summer tournament in 2017, his father noticed that Emerson men’s lacrosse head coach Matthew Colombini attended the tournament to scout players. He chased down Colombini and discussed Hrisanthopoulos’ interest in film and playing lacrosse.
Two weeks later, Hrisanthopoulos flew to Emerson to get an in-depth tour of the campus with an alum from the lacrosse team.
“They showed me all of the film facilities and answered every question I could possibly have,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “I didn’t get anything like this at Hofstra.”
Colombini said Emerson checked off all of the boxes for Hrisanthopoulos.
“He loved it right away,” Colombini said. “Academically, it was the perfect fit.”
Hrisanthopoulos said he believes he made the right choice to attend Emerson.
“I’m really happy to be studying film,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “Since I have gotten [to Emerson], my passion for film has grown even stronger. If I was at Hofstra, I would be spending all my time playing lacrosse because it is a Division I school. I would not have nearly as much time for my studies. Doing what I love as opposed to being miserable in New York and spending all my time playing lacrosse is night and day for me.”
Hrisanthopoulos expressed his appreciation and respect for the lacrosse team at Emerson and what they have given him.
“The team [at Emerson] is closer than any team I have ever played for,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “Everybody on the team has each other’s back. It’s really beautiful to have so many people there for you.”
Hrisanthopoulos shared how this experience can be a lesson for athletes who want to play lacrosse, or any sport, at a Division I school.
“You might think right now that lacrosse is the only thing that matters,” Hrisanthopoulos said. “I’ve been there, but you will get past this point eventually. You have to realize that lacrosse isn’t your whole life, and there’s more to your career than lacrosse. Figure out what you really want to do and find a school that allows you to pursue it. Go for it—shoot your shot.”