Coached By: Pete Mitchell
Had it not been for his uncle Lou Russo, who played lacrosse at Bethpage High School and SUNY Oneonta, Nick Russo may have never played the game.
Starting out with old wooden sticks, Russo tossed the ball around from an early age. By the time he reached the varsity squad at Comsewogue High School as a sophomore, he was ready to make some noise in the lacrosse world.
The teams he played on became progressively better through his high school career. They were already stacked as one of the top Class B lacrosse schools on Long Island, but playing together and building chemistry helped Comsewogue win seven consecutive county titles from 1996-2002.
During Russo’s sophomore year Comsewogue lost to Bethpage, 10-2, in the Long Island championship, then lost again in the big game his junior year to Garden City, 11-9. By his senior year, Comsewogue rallied back to beat Garden City, 9-6, and eventually won the New York State title, beating Section X’s Canton, 12-8.
Russo had a dominant senior season and his leadership qualities were noticed. He won the Enners Award in 1998.
"I tried to transfer that over into the community and bring it past lacrosse a little bit," says Russo, who also helped Long Island win gold at the Empire State Games. "It was a real big honor for me to win that award. Someone like that, just his fortitude and leadership qualities, it’s a real honor to win an award like that. It’s more special than an MVP."
Russo played college lacrosse at the University of Virginia. For him, it was a big adjustment being around the who’s who of college lacrosse. Luckily, the program was well established and Russo was fortunate to win a National Championship his freshman season in 1999.
"It was a big experience, especially coming off winning a state championship in high school," he says.
The Cavaliers did not win another title during his tenure, but he did play in the Final Four his sophomore and senior seasons.
An offensive threat in high school, Russo took on the role as short stick d-middie during college. The one game he did get to shine offensively was during his senior year against Duke. He was named ACC Player of the Week after scoring two goals and recording an assist. Both of his goals came in the fourth quarter of a 15-10 win, and helped Virginia maintain a lead on its way to winning the regular-season ACC title.
After college Russo was drafted by the Bridgeport Barrage of the MLL. In 2004, Russo and the Barrage – who had moved to Philadelphia by then – won an MLL title.
"That was one of my best experiences in lacrosse," he says.
He played in the MLL from 2002-2008 and stopped because of his full-time responsibilities as a carpenter on Long Island.