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Jack Oppenheimer: Scoring in bunches
The date was April 26, 2008 and the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team was hosting Bellarmine in desperate need of a win in order to qualify for the upcoming Great Western Lacrosse League playoffs in Detroit. With the game tied at five in the waning minutes of the contest, the Bobcats were granted a critical man-up opportunity. Coach Eric Fekete decided to throw his seldom-used freshman attacker Jack Oppenheimer into the fire and the kid responded with the game-winning goal, a moment he still regards as the highlight of his Bobcat career.
While growing up in Pennsylvania, Oppenheimer fell in love with the game of hockey at the tender age of two and played on a regular basis. A few years later, however, hockey had to make room for another passion in his life.
“When I was in the first grade, someone gave me a lacrosse stick for the first time,” Oppenheimer recalled. “I immediately fell in love with the game.”
He continued to play both hockey and lacrosse throughout middle school and high school. His lacrosse game began to evolve at a rapid pace and for the first time he began to have visions of playing after high school.
“I began getting looks from Division I schools as a junior and I figured if I kept working on my game I definitely would have a chance to play at the Division I level,” Oppenheimer said.
After a relatively quiet freshman year with the Bobcats in which he only appeared in five games, Oppenheimer responded in a big way in 2009. As a sophomore he led his team in points (26), goals (20), extra-man goals (4) as well as shots (65). Midfielder Zach Pall, a freshman at the time, was very impressed with what he saw.
“Jack is an extremely physical player who uses his big body to get in close to the net and finish,” Pall said. “At the same time, he has a great shot from the wing and is not afraid to let it fly.”
After such an impressive breakout sophomore season, Oppenheimer entered the off-season fully understanding that he had to continue to improve because his teammates would count on him to be their leader on and off the field. This new role of added leadership remains a work in progress but one that he has not shied away from.
“I’ve definitely taken on more of a leadership role this year,” Oppenheimer said. “It’s kind of tough because I have to balance being a team player and also having to contribute in a big way every game. I can’t let it get to my head though because it still is a team game.”
Playing a Division I sport, especially one as physically demanding as lacrosse, will generally present various challenges and obstacles for every athlete. Having to wake up at 6:30 every morning for practice tops the list for Oppenheimer. However, he will also tell you that the benefits of playing here at QU greatly outweigh the few sacrifices.
Competing each week against a top flight national schedule including the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame and Denver, is without a doubt a big-time perk. Oppenheimer revels at the opportunity to play against the top talent in the country on a game-to-game basis. Yet one aspect of playing on this team stands out as the most important to the highly talented junior attacker.
“Our coach always says he recruits the best people and I’m surrounded by a great group of guys every day,” Oppenheimer said. “And to have 40 guys who have my back no matter what and are my best friends, it’s just a great time.”