You’ve seen the movies. It’s never easy changing high schools in the middle of your four-year stint.
The change becomes a little bit easier when you only move 10 minutes down the street, become an All-American lacrosse player, become recognized as the county’s best lacrosse player and lead your new school to their fifth lacrosse state championship.
Insert Danny Kesselring. In his first year at Lambert High School, Kesselring was able to accomplish all of that.
“They accepted me so easily,” Kesselring said. “I played with a lot of the kids on the team when I was younger, so there weren't any problems gelling with the team.”
Kesselring scored 47 goals and assisted 25 more on the Longhorns' way to a state championship win over Centennial, the team Kesselring’s father coaches.
“We were chirping, but he was happy that I was in it,” Kesselring said. “He thought his team was good enough to make it, but they didn’t think they were going to. It was so sick that we got to play against each other.”
Lacrosse has always been a Kesselring tradition. After initially playing hockey, Kesselring switched to lacrosse at a young age and never looked back.
At 6 years old, he was playing on a team with 11 year olds. By age 8, he was scoring goals consistently.
After spending his first two years of high school at North Gwinnett, Kesselring’s family made the move into the Forsyth County side of Suwanee.
Once Kesselring joined the team, it was nothing like he expected.
“Holy crap, it was hard compared to anywhere else I’ve played at,” Kesselring said. “Practices were way harder and the team was more bought into the system. The difference with Lambert than any other school is they always want to win and know how to. The coaches dominate each side of the ball. It’s great having so many smart minds around.”
Even though it was his first year as a Longhorn, Kesselring said he had no problems taking a vocal leadership role on the field.
“I don’t like to lose, so if it’s ever a close game, I like to take charge and make it happen,” Kesselring said. “If I’m wearing Lambert on the field, I know I’ve got to ball out. The big games had me pretty nervous, I’m not gonna lie. The semifinals and the championship had me shaking. It was pretty awesome.”
In their second game of the season, Lambert lost to Blessed Trinity, the eventual Class 1A-4A state champions. Kesselring said that the coaches were not hard on the team and reminded them that they just needed to be playing better in May. However, Kesselring took the message as a wakeup call.
Lambert went on to win the next 21 games of the season on their way to a state title.
“That’s the best feeling ever,” Kesselring said. “Being on the field was amazing. There were so many emotions. I was just running around on the field, going crazy, hugging all my boys.”
Kesselring said there were not one or two superstars to credit for their success, but having a whole team full of fast, competent lacrosse players made the difference.
Kesselring was nominated as an All-American but still thinks his team deserves way more of the credit than publications are giving them.
“Getting All-American is amazing, but I really feel tough for the guys on my team that didn’t get the recognition I thought they deserved,” Kesselring said. “Our defense allowed only four goals a game and not one deep hole guy got any all-state recognition.”
Along with the accolades, this summer is the first time college coaches can contact him. Both of his parents grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and Kesselring said attending Syracuse on a lacrosse scholarship would be “a dream come true.”
“I’ve worked my butt off for it, so I guess I deserved it a little bit,” Kesselring said. “Hopefully I can keep it up next year and get another All-American recognition and hopefully bring it into college. Definitely a fast-paced team. I want to push the ball in transition. Hopefully somewhere up north, in the cold.”
Once the next school year rolls around, Kesselring said he does not think his team will skip a beat on their way to a potential sixth state championship win, which would tie the state’s all-time lacrosse record.
“Cody Martin, Evan Suh, Chris Harper and Josh Huntington will all be back with me too,” he said. “We only had five senior starters. I feel like we’ll hop right back in it and be just as good as we were last year. Hopefully Centennial will too so I can go 2-0 against my dad.”