Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse junior midfielder Garrett Degnon recently spoke with PressBox about the player he looked up to when he got to Hopkins, how he stayed sharp after the 2020 season was cut short and more. The Harwood, Md., native played just three games in 2019, but he was in the midst of a breakout (11 goals) when the 2020 season was shut down. Degnon graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School.
PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Garrett Degnon: I became interested in lacrosse because my older brother, [George], was playing at the time. I was probably about 7 years old, and also my father, [also George], had played in college. I always just kind of wanted to fill their shoes.
PB: What was it like growing up playing lacrosse with them?
GD: It was awesome. My dad played defense, but he was always catching and throwing with me in the yard, feeding me balls to shoot. With my older brother, he played attack so we got to do some offensive stuff together. He’s four years older than me, but we got to get better in the yard. It was really fun. They both have a big influence on me today.
PB: Why did you choose to come to Johns Hopkins?
GD: I’m from Southern Maryland. I liked that it was pretty local. I also like the very strong academics at Hopkins, and then also obviously their historic lacrosse program. Just the combination of the three — I got to stay close to home and the prestigious academics and the lacrosse here, so it was a pretty easy choice.
PB: You started to break out last year, so how frustrating was it when the season got shut down before you could see that through?
GD: It was pretty frustrating for the first week or so after being shut down. Obviously we all wanted to keep playing. I wanted to keep playing. But I accepted the fact that there were bigger problems at hand and just accepted it in a way and just looked at it as time to work more.
PB: What’s your favorite memory at Hopkins so far?
GD: I’d say my freshman year [in 2019]. I think it was the third game of the season. We played North Carolina down at North Carolina. It was the last game that UNC was going to hold on their soccer field because their new lacrosse facility was opening up pretty soon, but it was pouring down rain and it was just absolutely muddy everywhere so it was pretty fun to watch. And we got a close win, which was awesome — the first win of the season. So that’s probably my favorite memory.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about Hopkins and Baltimore?
GD: The city’s always nice to just be around sightseeing. The Inner Harbor’s awesome. Another cool thing, just to involve Hopkins, is kind of everywhere you go in Baltimore, you see some type of Hopkins, whether it’s part of the school or part of some of the grad schools or the hospitals all around town. I think it’s cool that Hopkins’ name is kind of everywhere around town.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
GD: My best friend on the team is probably Jake Calnan. We met the summer before meeting freshman year at some lacrosse clinic. We didn’t know each other at all before that, so we talked for a little bit then, and then when we showed up on campus we were not roommates but we were just always hanging out and seemed to get along pretty good and had some common interests.
PB: Who was a player you looked up to early in your career at Hopkins?
GD: Definitely Kyle Marr. He set a good example on the field, off the field. I liked that he was a left-handed shooter, which is what I always wanted to be, and everybody really respected him. When he talked, people listened, and I just thought that was really cool.
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
GD: Just keep working. Don’t give up. For me, I didn’t get any college interest until my senior year of high school, so I kind of had a rough go at recruiting, and then my freshman year was kind of a rough go as well. But just be patient and learn what’s around you, learn how the system works around you. Like for example, high school lacrosse — learn what your coaches want and just work hard at that and just totally buy into their systems. With that and patience and determination, you’ll get wherever you want to go.
PB: What are your goals for after lacrosse?
GD: After lacrosse, I’m still kind of open-ended. I’ve done some work in marketing over these last couple months, so I kind of like that, or I might look into some type of consulting business. I’m still very, very open-ended.
PB: What did you do last spring as far as lacrosse after the season was canceled?
GD: Just because I knew we weren’t going to have competition for a long time — like eight or nine months — I took a break, a couple weeks away from my stick and just tried to get my body in the best shape possible. So I lifted weights heavy every day and gave my hands and my wrists a break from the stick, which is always nice. But then a couple weeks after that, just getting into a routine as lifting and hitting the wall for wall ball and then going in the backyard and shooting or going to a local field with some friends to get some shots. All we had time, so just filling it with things to get better at the game.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics