Coached By: Ralph Pepe
Mike LaRocco started playing lacrosse as a seventh grader and played goalie right away primarily because his brother Rich played the position and because he was familiar with the position from playing hockey.
It worked, because by the end of his four year varsity career in the pipes for Smithtown West, LaRocco was one of the best netminders in Suffolk County and was honored with the Enners Award his senior year in 1992.
LaRocco said that his selection to the Empire State team as a sophomore solidified him being noticed by other coaches and teams.
"I was fully capable of playing any team," he says. "We weren't always successful, but we played hard."
Under the guile of Ralph Pepe - now the coach at Westhampton Beach - and a handful of other well-respected coaches, LaRocco and his teammates learned to battle and grew into young men.
LaRocco, who was an All-American in 1992, said a 9-8 loss to rival Smithtown East his senior year was a memorable contest, holding true to the cliche statement that athletes and coaches always remember the losses and not the wins.
When he won the Enners Award, he was truly honored.
"After seeing who [Ray Enners] was and getting the award in his honor, it was touching," he says. "I feel blessed just to be considered in his namesake. It's a tremendous honor. I don't think I truly appreciated it as a high school senior as much as I do now."
LaRocco is one of many Enners winners to have attended Cornell. He was a two-time First Team All-Ivy selection, and an All-American. He started all four years and still holds the record for single-season saves with 278 in 1996 and is second in career saves with 699.
He recalls beating nationally ranked Princeton at home, and losing to No. 1 Maryland as two of the biggest moments of his collegiate career. After college, he played two seasons for the New York Saints of the National Lacrosse League, as well as a number of years for the Tobay Lacrosse club.
Lacrosse served as major stepping stone for LaRocco's professional career. Thanks to Cornell alum Eamon McEneaney, - a legend in his own right - LaRocco got hooked up with Cantor Fitzgerald in 1997. During the interview process some noticed he won the Enners Award, which was featured on his resume. For him, it clearly helped, explaining that he won a prestigious award that stood for character and leadership.
What happened four years later could have never been predicted. He left to work elsewhere, and McEneaney and many others died in the attack of the World Trade Center. Cantor's offices were on the top floor.
Today, LaRocco is in sales for Broadpoint Capital in New York City.
McEneaney won the Enners Award as the nation's top college lacrosse player in the 1970s, making LaRocco even more proud to have an honor "that's associated with that name."