Saturday's sixth annual Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Towson University will showcase 88 of the top boys and girls players from the country. Perhaps none are more grateful than recently graduated Boys' Latin midfielder Jeff Chase. Early in his sophomore season, Chase tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee, which sidelined him for nine months. It wasn't until midway through his junior year that he felt at full strength. After a strong senior season, Chase will represent the South team in the Under Armour Classic boys game at 8 p.m. Saturday. It's just one of this summer's highlights for Chase, who later in July will vacation with his family in Europe. After that, he'll attend Loyola University, where he plans to major in business while working on a minor in communication.
Question: How excited are you about playing in the Under Armour All-America Classic?
Answer: It's a great honor. It's one of those things where you dream about it as a kid. I'm definitely excited about it and looking forward to getting on the field with some of the best players in the country. But I'm sure 100 other guys could have made that spot, too, so I'm just grateful for the opportunity and going to try to make the most of it.
Q: What's it feel like to be a high school graduate?
A: It's a special time. I'm extremely excited to be a graduate of Boys' Latin, and to call myself an alum is a little weird, but it feels really good.
Q: What will you remember most about Boys' Latin?
A: I'd say just the warm atmosphere here. Walking into the school every day, it was always a warm place, and I cherish so many moments here, and I think a lot of kids can say the same. It's just a special place. There's a lot of pride and tradition that goes through this place, and I was very fortunate to have gone here.
Q: What do you have planned for the summer?
A: This summer we're taking a family trip to Europe. We're going to Paris, Venice, Switzerland and London for 11 days. So it'll be a chance to put the stick down for a little bit and get away. I've never been to Europe before. I'd love to take away a little history from it, and just the experience will be unbelievable. Just meeting new people and seeing new things will be a great thing. It's a graduation present. My sister is also graduating from Maryland, so it's a nice little gift.
Q: How difficult was it overcoming the injury?
A: That was a really tough injury, really heart-wrenching. I kept a strong faith and was very optimistic throughout the whole thing. After surgery, my parents and friends were constantly supporting me. People were calling me and checking in. It was one of those things where I took a lot from it. It was a learning experience — almost a "don't-take-anything-for-granted" thing.
Q: What was it like getting back to 100 percent following the injury?
A: It was nine months from the surgery. It was an exciting day. I didn't know what to expect, so it was emotional, too. You don't know what's coming next. There was times when I thought I hurt it again. There was a lot of questions and uncertainty. … I think I really started hitting my peak midway through my [junior season] where I was feeling very comfortable and able to do anything without hesitation. It was just a great feeling and nice relief.
Q: What was it about Loyola?
A: I think it's a mirror image of this place [Boys' Latin]. A lot of pride and tradition goes through the school, and they have a high expectation level for you as a student and an athlete. It has a lot to offer, like BL does.
Q: What's the best advice you've received?
A: Live life to the fullest and don't take things for granted, because you never know. With coach [Bob] Shriver, we'd all be sitting down after practice in the shade and just taking it all in. He would constantly remind us that life is very valuable and you should value it and everything that comes with it. And I'd say keep a strong faith, always keep your head up and keep moving — stay positive through everything.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times