MLL’s Florida Connections: LHP Alum Griff Caligiuri Drafted, Fleming Island Alum Hayden La Vangie Signed as FA!

Two stories from Florida bred players that occurred during our hiatus.  One started well and one ended well.

High Point graduate Griff Caligiuri joined a select few Florida products by being drafted by the Boston Cannons in the recent MLL College Draft.  Unfortunately, Griff does not appear on the final roster for the 8-day tournament (he is the only defender on the 5-person reserve list, so there is a possibility he gets the call), which worked against him, since experience seemed to be in bigger demand among MLL rosters for this format.  My past history of covering the league would have indicated that Griff would have likely gotten more consideration and a likely roster spot at some point in a normal calendar season, as most college draftees do.  I hope he circles back to the league next year!

Jacksonville graduate Hayden La Vangie took a different route to his MLL position, as an undrafted free agent who sigend with the new Connecticut franchise, and he has been named to their 25-man roster.  What was interesting is that Hayden has transitioned from a high scoring attackman/middie in high school to an LSM at JU and the pro league; that’s an extraordinary change in roles over time and good for you Hayden!

Those who look at the rosters of the 6 teams will also notice quite a number of former Florida Launch players and former Head Coach Tom Mariano, who now takes over the Chesapeake Bayhawks.  The link to the rosters is HERE

Here are the two press releases from their respective colleges:

Griff Caligiuri: From Panther to the Pros

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Griff Caligiuri was a defender for High Point men’s lacrosse from 2016-2019. Caligiuri graduated from HPU in 2019 with a degree in Business and started a full-time job with Accenture. In March 2020, Griff heard that his name was called in the 2020 Major League Lacrosse Entry Draft by the Boston Cannons.

HPU: What were you thinking when you heard you were drafted by the Cannons?
Griff: It kind of took me by surprise, man I was not expecting that at all. I am working for Accenture in a consulting position and that is my main thing right now. Coach Torpey did reach out to me a week before the draft and asked me if I would have any interest in playing for the Boston Cannons. I told him sure, why not but did not think much of it then. Then I heard through social media that I got drafted then their coach reached out to me later, which is pretty cool.

HPU: Do you plan on pursuing this with the Cannons?
Griff: If things get back to normal and my schedule permits from work then I am definitely going to give it a shot you know why not!?

HPU: When did you start playing lacrosse and was playing in the MLL ever something you thought about?
Griff: Honestly, not really. I watched professional but I was more into college. Professional lacrosse wasn’t the end goal for me I wanted to play college lacrosse. It was never on my radar but when I was in college I started to think about it – like yeah that would be cool for a weekend thing to go up to Boston and play for the weekend with the guys. Short answer, no, I never expected to get to that level.

HPU: To follow up to that, was there a moment at HPU that made you think you know I am getting pretty good at this maybe I could play at the next level?
Griff: (Laughs) Not really. I was a good player at High Point. I played all four years and got a lot of playing time but I was never an All-American player. I was fine with that. I knew I was pretty good, I was a team player, but never received a ton of accolades or whatever which is fine. I honestly thought the last game of my senior year was going to be the last game of lacrosse of my life. It still might be but, I never thought this would happen. I do think my game translates better professionally than in college with the ability for poles to play looser and have more freedom, which fits my game better. So, for that reason, I do think it would be pretty cool if I get the opportunity to play.

HPU: Just to be a pest, can you elaborate a little more on the looseness of play and why you think your game will translate better in the pros?
Griff: The game is faster and there is more going on in the middle of the field which is where I thrive: groundballs, defense, and pushing transition, turning defense into offense. Also, in college you practice pretty much every day and in professional you might practice only one or two days. There is more structure in college compared to professional which is more free and loose, but still with the best players in the world. With that structure in college I learned to play more disciplined, which is the right thing to do and take fewer risks. In the pros you have the freedom to take more risks which I think plays to the strengths of my game.

HPU: What was your first impression of Coach Torpey when he recruited you?
Griff: Intense. He’s a big guy. He is always looking stoic I would say. When I talked to him more I could tell his passion for the game and not just that but for the kids he coaches and the families. I saw right away when he brought my parents and me into his office and talked us through the whole process before he asked me if I wanted a spot on the team. You can just tell he is a genuine guy. He is intense but very caring for people that care for him and about the program. If you show him respect, he will respect you and I owe that man a lot.

HPU: What made High Point lacrosse the right option for you?
Griff: I did not have too many Division I offers, just a couple maybe three or four. I had a bunch of DII and DIII offers but I wanted to play at the highest level if I did choose to play lacrosse. Out of all the schools, High Point was the best choice. I put into consideration if I didn’t play lacrosse would I still want to go to school there and HPU fit that mold. The school is beautiful, the kids are great, the teachers are amazing, and my teammates were the best teammates you could ask for. The coaches not only develop you as a player but as a person as well and they get you ready for the real world. All those things made it easy for me to choose High Point.

HPU: That leads me to my next question: Torpey and the coaches celebrate a guy getting a good job or an internship the same way they celebrate a guy getting drafted to the pros. What can you say about that part of the program?
Griff: Exactly like you just said, we celebrate things not only on the lacrosse field but off the field as well. If someone did a good thing in the community – I know when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas all the guys from Texas did community service. Then we celebrated them helping out people in the community and that is just awesome. Then when someone gets a job or an internship – I remember I announced it to the team and Torpey made me get up in front of everyone and tell the guys. When I told them I received an offer from Accenture we celebrated that as a team. That stuff is very important as well.

HPU: Tell us a little bit more about what you are doing now with your job.
Griff: Right now I am a consulting analyst with Accenture, a global consulting firm in the financial services sector. I would love to shout out my coaches and professors from High Point, specifically Professor Quinn – he helped me out a lot – and Professor Moser. They were incredible. I want to thank all the people in food services at High Point and our janitor, Steve, those people always kept me grounded. Always seeing them with a smile on their face at any time of the day uplifted not only me but the rest of the team.

HPU: Last question and it’s a tough one, how much fun was it for you to watch your friend Jake Schleppy play one more year of lacrosse this season?
Griff: Oh, it was awesome! I love that kid. He is a brother to me. We were roommates my freshman year so I loved seeing him play. The situation is unfortunate but one door closes and another opens for this guy. Seeing Schleppy tear it up was great.

Caligiuri appeared in 54 games for High Point over his career. He scored six goals and recorded six assists for 12 career points, with one game-winning goal. He also scooped up 64 ground balls and caused 34 turnovers.

*****

HAYDEN LA VANGIE LANDS ON 2020 CONNECTICUT HAMMERHEADS ROSTER

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BOSTON, Mass. – Former Jacksonville LSM Hayden La Vangie inked a professional deal to join the 40-man roster of the Connecticut Hammerheads of the MLL back in May and on Monday he was officially announced as a member of the 25-man active roster.

The 20th anniversary MLL season, beginning July 18th, will be played entirely in the city of Annapolis, Maryland. The season will be one-week long and will host all six MLL teams. The week will conclude with a final-four playoff, crowning the 2020 MLL champion the weekend of July 25-26. The Major League Lacrosse season will air on the ESPN Networks and ESPN+.

La Vangie appeared in all five games for the Dolphins this season, collecting 10 ground balls and causing five turnovers. La Vangie joined a growing list of Dolphins to secure an opportunity at the professional level. At the time he was the 11th player in program history to ink with a professional team, the second to sign as an undrafted free agent.

As a senior, La Vangie saw action in all 15 games, totaling 17 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers, in addition to five points (3 goals, 2 assists). He Scored in three-straight games with goals against Drexel (March 2) and No. 1 Towson (March 8), and a season-high two points (1g, 1a) against Michigan in the Moe’s Lacrosse Classic (Feb. 23). He Picked up a season-high four ground balls at Air Force (March 30), caused a season-high three turnovers twice – against No. 2 Duke (Feb. 9) and No. 10 High Point (March 23).

As a junior he appeared in all 15 games, with one start, totaling six ground balls, three caused turnovers, and two points (1 goal, 1 assist). He came to JU as a four-year starter at Fleming Island. He was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American (2014, 2015), four-time offensive MVP and led the Golden Eagles in scoring and assists all four year. La Vangie played club lacrosse for Team Florida and Team Talon.

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