ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - When competing against established sports like football, hockey and baseball, most schools have trouble building interest in lacrosse, even RFA. The Black Knights were first in the Mohawk Valley to field a team, thanks to the late, great Mike Warwick, who formed the team back in the late 1960s.
Warwick coached the team for thirty years and one of his players, a 1990 graduate, was Guy Calandra, now the head coach of the team. In Calandra's tenth year at the helm, RFA is 7-1 and has already clinched a playoff berth.
The secret to their success this season is a core of upperclassmen who started playing the sport at a young age and are driven to return the team to its glory days.
"It's about leadership," says senior midfielder Drew Hinman. "A lot of us are out there, we're always here working hard, off time, off season we're all together. After awhile it just starts to click when you're on the field with each other."
"Mike Warwick, my uncle tells me stories about him," adds junior midfielder Devin Trifeletti, one of the team's captains. "He made this program. Coach Calandra still uses some basic core principles he used. Lacrosse has come a long way around here."
Warwick passes away last August, so Calandra and his players would love to win their first postseason game since the Warwick Era this year, in his memory. The Black Knights may very well have the pieces to do just that.
"They've done everything and they're leaving nothing on the field," says Calandra. "They're pushing each other every day and they're excited about being here. It's pouring rain, they're in shorts, they can't wait to get out here. They're shaving their heads for camaraderie as a team and we couldn't be happier."
RFA's scheduled road game Tuesday was cancelled due to a flood in Auburn. The Black Knights next game is Friday night at home against Liverpool.