Loyola men’s lacrosse junior midfielder Evan James talked with PressBox recently about how last year’s tough ending is motivating the Greyhounds in 2022, a player he looked up to early in his career and more. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound James earned second-team All-Patriot League honors in 2021 by posting 32 goals and 12 assists for a Loyola team that advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.
PressBox: Your father, Mike, played college lacrosse at Ohio Wesleyan. How did he influence you as a lacrosse player and competitor?
Evan James: He never really was a pushy dad that pushed me into being a lacrosse player. Whatever made me happy made him happy, so I’m very grateful for that. It was nice to have a role model like that. But then I ended up falling in love with lacrosse and coming to play here at Loyola. He’s supported me all the way through. He coached me in middle school and hasn’t missed a game, so he’s definitely my biggest fan and biggest supporter. I’m extremely grateful that he introduced me to the game but also kind of gave me the freedom to do other things that I love — play basketball in high school. He’s just been a great role model.
PB: Why did you choose to come to Loyola?
EJ: I wanted a smaller school. The main reason is the coaching staff. They’re the best in the business and they’re great coaches but even better people, and I think that’s what attracted me most on my visit with [head coach Charley Toomey and assistants Marc Van Arsdale and Matt Dwan] was just how good of people they are. That’s kind of contagious. Getting to know my teammates and everything as a freshman, you see the type of people they recruit. That’s what was most attractive about Loyola for me.
PB: What’s your favorite memory so far at Loyola?
EJ: I’d say beating Denver in Denver was pretty cool last year — tight game and [Sam Shafer] making that big save, that was awesome. … It was crazy. Being on the attack side, you’re kind of just sitting there putting the trust in your defense and your goaltender. I knew Shaf was going to make that save. He’s been making them all year in practice and everything. I had complete trust in him, but it was definitely a little nerve-racking.
PB: How is the tough ending against Duke in the quarterfinals motivating the team in 2022?
EJ: I think it’s the same mentality, chip on our shoulder. We had the Patriot League finals taken away from us last year [due to COVID protocols], so that’s definitely fresh on our minds. But that feeling of losing in overtime I don’t think has left anyone on our team and we’re going to carry that into each weekend.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about Loyola and Baltimore?
EJ: My favorite thing about Loyola is probably my teammates and friends, just getting to meet a bunch of different guys from all over. … I grew up in Ohio, so I wasn’t used to [a city]. The Inner Harbor’s pretty cool.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
EJ: I’d just say my whole class in general. We all lived in the same dorm rooms freshman year — it was a group of six and a group of six, so we had a lot of fun even on school nights staying up playing video games and hanging out. That’s a cool part about Loyola … you’re living with six guys, it’s a lot of fun. I’m grateful that they have the six-person dorms.
PB: Who was a player you looked up to when you got to Loyola?
EJ: Obviously Pat [Spencer], but I’d say Peter Swindell was a great leader and a great guy. Me and him still keep in touch. Peter always led by example. As a young freshman, you come in on your first day and there are three grades above you that know what they’re doing. Peter was doing the right thing, so instead of having to ask a question, you could always just look at Peter.
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
EJ: I think the biggest benefit for me in high school was not specializing in lacrosse. It was having the ability to play multiple sports. I think, one, it helps you not get burned out, but I think basketball can help your lacrosse game a lot and other sports as well. So just not specializing and not getting too caught up in the recruiting stuff. Just remember why you play and continue to chase that.
PB: What are your goals for after lacrosse?
EJ: I hope to work in the business world. I’m a finance major right now, so something to do with that — hopefully start my own business one day.
Photo Credit: Marcus Snowden