Gleason’s Journey to the Pros

Essex H.S. grad made PLL debut this Summer
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Essex High School grad Brendan Gleason had a very early introduction to the sport of lacrosse.

“My dad was always big into lacrosse,” Gleason said. “He kind of helped start the youth program here in Essex and kind of more widely the Northern Vermont area. I had a stick my hand from pretty much the time I could walk so I’ve just always kind of loved the game.”

But even though lacrosse was his first love, Gleason also starred for the Hornets’ football and hockey teams, winning a state title on the ice in 2015. He says his versatility probably made him more attractive to college lacrosse coaches, especially coming out of such a small state like Vermont.

“Coaches definitely like to see that,” Gleason said. You kind of cross-train your body a little bit which I think helps prevent injury and you’re not always overworking the same muscles. They also just like to see kids having fun and not just playing club lacrosse year round and kind of working themselves to the dirt.”

When the time came to pick where he’d play in college, the quality of program, school, and familial ties made it an easy choice for Gleason...he was headed to Notre Dame.

“It helped out that my Dad, he went out to grad school at ND after playing at Cornell and coached with (Notre Dame Head Coach) Corrigan as a grad assistant,” Gleason said. “My cousin Andrew played for Coach Corrigan for four years as well. So pretty much right when I got the opportunity, it was a no-brainer.”

The Irish are consistently one of the best teams in the country, but by his sophomore year, Gleason was one of the best players on the team, eventually earning a pair of All-ACC and honorable mention All-American nods.

“When you get there as a freshman, you’re basically drinking from a firehose trying to take in all the knowledge and all the experience from some of the older guys,” Gleason said. “Summer after my freshman year, I kind of just worked on strength, speed, and stickwork in the offseason. I think the coaches noticed that and that’s for me when the game started to slow down.”

Gleason was so good that before graduating in 2019, he was drafted by the Redwoods in the newly formed Premier Lacrosse League.

“I didn’t even really like think I was gonna be playing, you know I already had a job lined up in New York City,” Gleason said. “I was just going to be like, ‘Finish your year, graduate, move know, maybe play some pickup here and there.’”

He didn’t crack the roster last Summer, but had high hopes for this year...until....

“Was looking forward to this Summer, getting a chance to go to training camp, kinda earn my spot on the roster, and then obviously COVID hits,” Gleason said.

He was left off the initial 22 man roster for the PLL Championship Series out in Utah, but right before the tournament began, Gleason got a call from Redwoods coach Nat St. Laurent.

“The Monday of training camp start, he calls me up and says, ‘Hey, we had a situation, somebody on our team has to be sent home, can you make it out to Utah?’” Gleason said.

And he thrived in the bubble, scoring three goals as the ’Woods made a run to the semifinals.

“It was relatively easy getting acclimated and getting into the team and the thick of things,” Gleason said. “They were also like, ’Hey you weren’t supposed to be here but you’re here now, part of the team, you’re one of us, like let’s go win this thing.”

He’s back in Vermont now working remotely while staying with his parents, and he’s hoping his experience and a few other factors can help the sport continue to grow in his home state.

“UVM’s doing great things, they got a new coaching staff a few years back and you know, they’ve made a little bit of noise in the America East,” Gleason pointed out. “And then also you know the 802 Lacrosse program, that helps a ton as well to just kind of get more kids involved in the sport and get a little more exposure for some of those kids that really do have D1 talent but sometimes its just a matter of getting noticed by the right people at the right times.”

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