For midfielder Colin Heacock, practice isn’t limited to the Terrapins men’s lacrosse team’s required field sessions.
Oftentimes, Heacock will come early or stay late. He’ll work on his shooting accuracy, footwork and the spins and dodges he puts on opponents.
Through the first two games of his junior season, Heacock’s attention to his craft has shown. He leads the No. 8 Terps with five goals, including two in Saturday’s 8-5 loss at No. 6 Yale, and has earned a starting role after serving as a reserve for most of his first two campaigns.
“He’s one of those guys who’s always trying to make himself better, so his development is great for us,” coach John Tillman said. “His success, a big part of that is because he’s invested so much.”
Against the Bulldogs on Saturday, Heacock’s seven shots were second most on the team. His scores bookended the Terps’ 42- minute scoring drought, but Heacock said the Terps tried to stay positive while the shots weren’t falling.
At halftime, the veterans spoke to the team about having been in the situation before — tied with the Bulldogs at the break in each of their last two contests. During second-half huddles, Tillman harped on the importance of the next play, not the previous one.
The patient mindset is something Heacock is used to.
The Catonsville native arrived in College Park in 2013 as Inside Lacrosse‘s 11th overall recruit, but he missed the first two games with an injury in his rookie year and finished the season with just nine points.
Heacock saw more time in the Terps’ run to the national championship last year, playing in all 19 games, including two starts, and racking up 21 points, but both seasons paled in comparison to his prolific scoring days at Boys’ Latin.
With the Lakers, Heacock notched 74 points on 48 goals and 26 assists as a senior and was a 2013 Under Armour and U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American. Bob Shriver, who coached for Boys’ Latin during Heacock’s time there, said the accolades were a product of his superior work ethic.
The scrambles for ground balls and Heacock’s relentlessness while riding opponents’ clears impressed Shriver as much as his ability to create goals.
“He played with a great deal of energy all the time,” Shriver said. “He’s a freak athlete.”
And much like his attention to detail off the field with the Terps, Heacock was a regular in the Lakers’ weight room. Plus, he was also a force on the varsity basketball team.
“Colin needs to be moving all the time,” Shriver said.
When the final whistle blows, though, Heacock’s intensity disappears. Shriver calls Heacock “the little elf” but wouldn’t divulge the nickname and alter ego Heacock has dubbed for himself.
“‘Lovable’ probably isn’t the right word to describe a 6-foot-3, [195-pound] guy,” Shriver said, “but he’s just got a really engaging personality.”
Shriver, now retired from coaching but still a full-time teacher at Boys’ Latin, watched that personality grow throughout Heacock’s three years under his tutelage. Shriver said sophomores, as Heacock was in Shriver’s first year coaching him, are still feeling their way around and looking to seniors for cues.
“His leadership and his ability to kind of take the game on, as opposed to taking the game on while deferring to other people, got better and better,” Shriver said.
And that mindset has continued to evolve with the Terps.
Heacock was quick to deflect praise to his teammates for their efforts Saturday. He looked to midfielder Bryan Cole as the Terps’ vocal presence and commended his younger teammates for their poise.
“Everyone on offense has had experience at some point in their life,” Heacock said. “We know that anybody is capable of doing anything that they need to do for the team at any given moment.”
But Heacock’s two goals, one assist and ground ball powered the Terps’ efforts on a day when nothing came easy against the Bulldogs’ fourth-ranked scoring defense.
“He’d be the first guy to tell you that his teammates are the reason why,” Tillman said. “But I think it’s a combination of his teammates and him and putting in that work.”