Friday, October 23, 2020

Tyler Clancy’s lacrosse journey brings him All-American status

BYU vs. Texas. Caven Lacrosse Center. Tyler Clancy gets into his stance on one knee across from the opponent, the head of his stick parallel to that of his opponent’s. He’s locked in and his only focus is on securing the ball. The referee yells, “Set!” but Clancy is completely motionless, barely even breathing. He blocks out all the noise around him, waiting for the sharp whistle to blow. As the whistle blows, Clancy explodes out of his stance and wrestles for the ball.

He wasn’t a proven starter yet, but that day brought him one step closer to taking on a larger role with the team.

Clancy loved contact sports. He grew up wrestling and playing nose guard in football, never shy of getting in on the action.

“I’m not afraid to get hit and I’m not afraid to hit someone,” Clancy said.

He didn’t start playing lacrosse until the eigth grade. His father played in high school, but it wasn’t a big sport in Clancy’s hometown of Beaufort, S.C.

It wasn’t until he was cut from the baseball team that he considered playing lacrosse. One of his friends invited him to play for his club team, and that’s when Clancy started to fall in love with the game.

Tyler Clancy runs with the ball after winning a faceoff. (Tyler Clancy)

His childhood best friend, Brandon Alvarez, picked up lacrosse at the same time. Every night after school, the two would go to the lacrosse field for hours throwing the ball, getting reps, working out and running together.

“Having a friend to practice with was essential in my development,” Clancy remembered.

Clancy excelled as a faceoff specialist throughout high school. He embraced the warrior mentality and aggressiveness it took to win the ball. It was the dirty work he enjoyed the most. It may not always be pretty, but he loves the battle.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Colorado Springs, Colo., Clancy enrolled at BYU in January 2017 and jumped right back into lacrosse. Clancy said that adjusting after the mission was a struggle. He hadn’t touched a lacrosse stick while on his mission and was in poor physical shape.

Once BYU men’s lacrosse head coach Matt Schneck heard Clancy was on campus, he gave him a call and told him they would love to have him come play for the team. That meant practicing early at 5:30 a.m. every day.

Even though Clancy’s skills were not where they need to be, coach Schneck saw his desire and work ethic. Just as he did in high school, Clancy put in countless hours to get better. He would get to practice early to “hit the wall” — the process of throwing the ball against the wall and catching it. He also spent more time in the gym so that he could get stronger and faster.

During his freshman year, Clancy only saw the field four times — all games where the team had built up a large lead.

“I wasn’t at a place where I could even really compete for a spot,” Clancy said.

After putting in work over the next summer and fall, Clancy was ready to contribute more to the team. He practiced and watched film every day with fellow faceoff specialist Grant Malquist to hone his skills.

Tyler Clancy takes on a University of Utah defender in a match in 2018. (Tyler Clancy)

Even though he put in a lot of work to get better than offseason, Clancy wasn’t the primary faceoff specialist. He got limited reps in the first five games.

The next game, game six, the team traveled to Austin to play the University of Texas. It was a hot and humid day, conditions that some players weren’t accustomed to. Clancy, having grown up in coastal South Carolina, was well acquainted with playing in the heat. That day, he was asked to step up and won 80% of his faceoffs. From that point on, he saw the field more and more, eventually winning the starting role as the faceoff specialist.

He won 162 of 261 faceoffs that season, just over 60% of his faceoffs. Even though he wasn’t a starter to begin the year, Clancy was selected as an All-American in 2018.

“The reason I am proud about being an All-American is because it reflects that we are a team that performs at a very high level and I was able to accomplish the tasks that were given to me,” Clancy said.

When talking about his success, Clancy points to the long hours he put in back on the lacrosse fields in South Carolina with his best friend Brandon Alvarez. It was developing his strength and toughness to play defensive line in football. It was the explosiveness he developed in high school learning how to do power cleans with his strength and conditioning coach. It was the little things that added up, like battling day in and day out with fellow faceoff specialist Grant Malquist that really helped him refine his skills and eventually earn the title of All-American.

“As with all positions, there is competition, especially when you are a faceoff specialist. You are constantly proving yourself, but ultimately it comes down to your consistency and being able to succeed when it counts,” coach Schneck said. “Clancy pushed through challenges, overcame obstacles and demonstrated consistency on the field.”

Tyler Clancy leads an offensive attack against Grand Canyon University in 2018. (Tyler Clancy)

Clancy was voted captain by his peers and coaches for the upcoming 2020 season. His goal for this year’s team is to be a blue-collar team — the team that works the hardest. He expects the team to fight for every ground ball, sprint on and off the field, play tough defense and dodge hard on offense. He hopes to set the tone by making a statement at every faceoff.

“Clancy has consistently become a better player every year both on and off the field. I know he has the ability to lead with passion, humility and inspiration,” coach Schneck remarked. “As (Clancy) continues to grow as a leader, he will accomplish great things both on and off the field, this season and in the future.”

Clancy isn’t the same person he was when he stepped onto the BYU campus nearly three years ago.

“As a freshman, waking up every morning at 5 a.m. to get knocked around and outworked helped me build the character I needed to grow and mature as a man,” Clancy said. “Looking back on my time here, I am grateful to have been taught about discipline, hard work and accountability.”

That same discipline, hard work, and accountability has led Clancy to All-American status and his new role as a team captain — a lesson Clancy will keep forever.

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