Stevenson men’s lacrosse junior midfielder Jacob Tatum recently spoke to PressBox about how he got involved in lacrosse, his long-term goals for after lacrosse and more. Tatum, a native of Kingwood, Texas, posted 57 points (38 goals, 19 assists) for the Mustangs in 2019.
PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Jacob Tatum: That was fourth grade. I’m from Houston, actually. It wasn’t very big down there to start. But what happened was one of my friends, his dad asked me to come out to lacrosse practice. I played football, played soccer. When I came out and started watching, I was like, ‘First of all, what is this, man? This is wild.’ As I started to put a stick in my hand, the instinct that I just got — obviously it wasn’t great to start, but it just felt like something different that I could do. I was never the fastest, the biggest or the strongest, but I knew if I could keep stick skills and I could improve in that area, there would always be a spot for me no matter what. That’s kind of how I fell in love with the game, which is about fourth grade just kind of going out there having fun with buddies and doing it, honestly.
PB: What are some of your favorite memories at Stevenson so far?
JT: My freshman year, I think we were 0-4, 0-5 at time, playing a gauntlet of teams as we should if you know our schedule. We had No. 2 Cabrini, and that first kind of big big-time win — 14-10 at our home place — was definitely a big rush as the first memory. And then my first MAC [Commonwealth] championship — high school, my team was not good so we didn’t win anything. I say that first one and then getting that second one again, and just riding on the bus with the guys. Those are probably my four highlights.
PB: What are your long-term goals for after lacrosse?
JT: I want to stay in sports. I want to be in marketing. Business communications is my major. I want to coach … coaching at whatever level but also being in marketing and staying in sports and just kind giving back to the community in one way or another.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about Owings Mills and Stevenson?
JT: For me, there’s three Chick-fil-As in a matter of 10 minutes, so that’s always a plus. And I would also say the people on campus, honestly. Everyone I talk to that I meet at the registrars or anything like that, they’re always so helpful. I just think that’s a big part of the Owings Mills community is just having people at the school that with me being from out of state … having everyone be friendly and open is very key for me.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores the friendship you have off the field?
JT: Damian Randall. He’s a goalie. He’s a junior as well. He and I haven’t lived together until this year, junior year, but in the same dorm freshman year, so I just kind of got to know him. We’re both very straight-forward guys. On the field, I’m an attackman, he’s a goalie, so we’re always messing around with each other doing one-on-ones. I need to shoot on him before practice. I think that time before practice really allows us to get closer, just kind of talk as I shoot the shot about whatever is going on that day. It just kind of helped us. Off the field, we just started hanging out a bunch, playing video games and all that. So I think I can go to the guy for anything. Anytime I need him, he’s always there no matter what he’s doing. That’s my best friend, and he’s always there when I need him, which is what I need in a best friend.
PB: Who are some of the lacrosse players at Stevenson that you looked up to early in your career?
JT: JT Thelen. He broke our points record last year. He’s been a big mentor. Coming in playing freshman year, I think he’s the most influential. He guided me a bunch. Ethan Christensen’s also a guy who’s kind of taken me under his wing. Dom DeFazio, our captain. He now coaches for us. He was a big-time defender. You could count on him if you were coming in as a freshman. He was the first guy to come up to me and be like, ‘Hey man, what’s going on? If you ever need anything, I’m here to help. I play defense, but I can help you out.’ Those are probably the three who came to mind.
PB: Who was the biggest influence on your game growing up?
JT: My dad, [Jeff], honestly. He never played the sport, and so he kind of learned it with me, which was really cool. He’d always take me out shooting and practicing. He’d obviously drive me places, too. From about fifth grade to ninth grade or 10th grade, whenever I could drive, he was always the guy who would go out and shoot me balls. Late at night, turn the car on and [use] the headlights to play wall ball. Whatever I needed, he would do for me. If there was something I wanted to get better at, he wasn’t going to hinder that in any possible way.
PB: What advice would you give to young players?
JT: Stick-skill-wise, just wall ball, man. It never hurts. Find a mentor. Find a couple guys who you could go [to] and keep you honest, especially the winter months, you’ve been playing for a long time, it’s hard. But if you’ve got a couple guys who’ll keep you honest and go out there with you and grind with you, I think that’s the biggest thing. That way you don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to try to push yourself. You have other people to push you.
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/Stevenson Athletics