TRAVERSE CITY — Jake Monette has been playing lacrosse for a long time. Chris Feaganes, not so much.
But both Traverse City West grads are headed to play collegiately at Defiance College.
The Division 3 Ohio institution has been recruiting Monette for years — even before the school had a program. And also before Feaganes even started playing.
A year ago, Feaganes hadn’t played any sports at West. But Monette convinced him to try lacrosse on the YMCA-sponsored Bayhawks team comprised entirely of TC West student-athletes.
“Jake talked me into it,” Feaganes said. “I’ve been working hard all year to get better. I guess I was good enough to play in college, so now I’m going to the next level.”
Monette had been a fixture on the team for years, playing on the varsity-level team as an eighth-grader and scoring 40 goals as a sophomore. Feaganes walked on and soon was a starting defensive midfielder. He was voted to the Northern Michigan Lacrosse Conference all-star game and even scored a goal in the contest.
Now they’ll continue to be teammates for the Yellow Jackets, who just started their varsity lacrosse program a year ago.
“I think we have very good chances,” Monette said of earning playing time early on. “I think we can get in there and make a difference right off the bat.”
Defiance was 0-17 in its first season, so the pair hope they can help drastically improve that as the school’s program evolves.
“Chris, the minute he walked on the field, you would have never known,” Bayhawks coach Ryan Schook said. “Just a natural athlete. He was good at everything he does. I’ll be honest, he was my favorite player that I’ve ever coached because of his ability to pick up things quickly and his desire to learn more. I wished there were more kids in this world like Chris, because of his quality and character.
“Jake is arguably the best player to come out of our program — and possibly Traverse City. He’s very talented, leads our program in goals. It was inevitable he was going to play at the next level. It was just a matter of where. He had his choices. Even after he committed, I still had programs calling me (about him).”
Monette scored 33 goals last season.
“Jake has always been the go-to guy from an offensive standpoint,” Schook said. “He took a step back this year and helped two other guys really step up their game and basically we became a three-headed monster on offense, because Jake was willing to help other people step up their game. He’s a team guy. Jake was an anchor, and we’re going to miss him on our offense.”
As a sophomore, Monette started a recruiting page on NCSAsports.org and posted a highlight video. Not long after, Defiance came calling.
“Jake mentioned my name to one of the coaches because he thinks I’m pretty good,” Feaganes said. “And the coaches called me and we just went from there.”
“He has the heart,” Monette said of Feaganes. “He’s the kind of guy that if he wants to be the best at something, he’s going to do it. I knew if he wanted to, he could go there and start just like me.”
Defiance not only offers a good shot at playing time early on, but also fits what both Feaganes and Monette seek academically.
“They’re one of the top-ranking criminal justice programs in the nation, and that’s what Chris and I both intend on studying,” Monette said. “That was a really big draw for us. And also the school size. It’s only about 2,500 students and has a really good student-to-faculty ratio. The president of the school has met me on every one of my visits there.”
Defiance plays in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference, the same league as Albion, which features TC Central goalie Ryan McGee and has Central’s Logan Krieger coming aboard next season.