TRAVERSE CITY — Brett Spanski can make a little history and be a trailblazer at the same time Wednesday.
He’s slated to sign his national letter-of-intent Wednesday with the University of Detroit Mercy at Traverse City Central High School, which Traverse City YMCA Thunder coach Liberty Provost said will make Spanski the first Michigan player north of Grand Rapids to sign with a Division 1 school.
Petoskey forward Greg Tonge signed with Division 2 Walsh University in Ohio during the winter, and Cadillac and the Thunder have produced several players in recent years that have gone on to play at the Division 3 and NAIA levels.
About a year ago, Spanski didn’t even know Detroit had a varsity lacrosse program.
“I had no idea,” Spanski said. “I saw University of Detroit was playing Notre Dame. I was really shocked they were in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Titan lacrosse team started in the 2008-09 school year,. The program did not win its first game until March of 2010. Things progressed, however, and a pair of one-goal wins in the 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament qualified Detroit for the 16-team NCAA Tournament.
It was there that Spanski saw the Titans nearly shock No. 2-ranked Notre Dame. Detroit led the Fighting Irish 7-3 going into the final quarter before Notre Dame reeled off six unanswered goals to win 9-7.
That fall, he attended the Titans’ prospect day on campus.
“After the whole thing was over, coach (Matt) Holtz pulled me aside and offered me a spot on the team,” Spanski said.
Spanski’s size and athletic ability was what impressed Holtz the most, Provost said.
“The D-1 coaches, when they look at non-traditional lacrosse areas — like ours is — they know they’re not going to be getting guys who have played since the first grade,” Provost said. “The stick skills probably aren’t going to be quite there. What their coach is looking for is an athlete. And that’s what Brett is. He’s going to have a big adjustment period, going from high school to Division 1 lacrosse. ... If he puts the time in, he’ll be a player for them for years to come. The coach didn’t ask him to come there for nothing.”