After St. Ed’s senior Danny Walsh officially signed in November to play Division 1 lacrosse at Mercer University, he was looking forward to helping his team win a district championship in what would have been an ideal conclusion to his high school sports career.
But it didn’t quite work out that way. The lacrosse team is favored to win the district title this week, but Walsh won’t be playing. Unfortunately, it’s been a harsh, injury-plagued senior year for one of the better Pirate athletes in recent times.
“I can’t take back what happened to me,” Walsh said. “I was out four weeks with a separated shoulder in football and was happy just to come back and play the rest of the season. Lacrosse was a little different. I’m out for a very long time with a torn ACL.
“I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, it’s just that everything happens for a reason. Instead of playing I’ve basically taken on the role of working on my leadership abilities, helping to coach the team, and encouraging other players to push themselves harder to become the best they can be.”
The ACL injury occurred in lacrosse practice and the rehab/recovery process will extend deep into this year. Walsh praised the doctor who performed the surgery and designed the rehab package.
“My doctor taught me step-by-step what to do until I’m cleared (to play). I should be back to 100 percent in about six months, but I’m probably going to make the smart decision and wait a little while longer. My school was completely supportive. They were apologetic that it happened and are not worried about anything. I should be perfectly fine by the season.
“I will practice in the fall but I’m not going to play in scrimmages or do anything like that. Practice for the season starts in January.”
At 6-feet-4 and 215 pounds, Walsh has the physical attributes of speed and size that enabled him to excel as a running back and secondary swingman on the football field. However, his sports future is in lacrosse and, despite the devastating injuries, the mentality that has taken him this far will not change.
“I can’t be hesitant or cautious. Whatever happens, happens for a reason. I believe that. If you play cautiously you are more likely to get hurt. I’m going to go 100 percent, full force every time I step on the field. I’ve just got to get over this injury and then I’m going 100 percent every time.”
Walsh entered St. Ed’s in fourth grade and started playing lacrosse for the middle-school team in sixth grade. He played a “little bit of basketball” before narrowing it down.
“When I got here I took advantage of the opportunity to play different sports and in high school I began to focus more on football and lacrosse. Those became my main sports and I strived to be the best athlete that I could possibly be.
“I always knew that I wanted to play a sport in college. My mom always reminded me that I had to keep my grades up. Baltimore is a hotbed for college recruiting so I went there for up to eight weeks every summer since my freshman year.
“I realized that sports would be a great way to get into a good school. If some other things weren’t there sports could help boost me into my dream school. I now have a great opportunity to play lacrosse at a great school that I really like. That’s what I have, that’s what lacrosse has done for me.”
The injuries Walsh fought through will be a factor in determining the all-important academic track that his mother always advised him to keep in mind.
“I’m really interested in science and math and I’m considering studying physical therapy in college. I’ve actually learned a lot about the injuries I’ve had this past year. Now I want to study and learn more about how the human body works.”
Mercer University is not that far away in Macon, Georgia, and we get the impression that Walsh will take some of Vero with him and bring back home some of Macon as often as he can.
“I’ve lived in Vero my entire life and I’m going to hate leaving this town. I love the people, the place, the weather, the beach, the river, but I’m ready for something new, ready for a change. I will be able to embrace the change and find new things that I like – things that I just don’t know about yet.”
Whatever happens, he will be there on time because football coach Bill Motta will forever be a voice in his ear.
“One of his big rules is never be late – if you are not early you are late. It was drilled into my head and I live by that now. I was never late for football practice and I will probably never be late for anything for the rest of my life.”