Returning to his roots

These days Tony McDe­vitt works as a bond trader in New York City, but the Far North­east nat­ive still comes home every year to teach his loc­al lacrosse camp.

photo cour­tesy of Jim Koniecki

Tony McDe­vitt has al­ways been a North­east guy at heart. 

Sure, nowadays he lives in New York City, where he works as a bond trader, and for the past three years, he’s played pro­fes­sion­al lacrosse for the Long Is­land Liz­ards. 

But the Far North­east Phil­adelphia nat­ive reg­u­larly re­turns to his roots. 

He re­cently wrapped up the fourth an­nu­al Philly’s Finest lacrosse camp, held earli­er this month at Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School. The camp, which is open to all loc­al ath­letes in­ter­ested in learn­ing the sport of lacrosse, has grown sub­stan­tially since it’s in­cep­tion. The first year, about 30 young­sters par­ti­cip­ated. This time around, there were more than 80.

“It’s go­ing really well. It’s only get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter every year,” said McDe­vitt. “The main reas­on why it’s get­ting bet­ter — not only am I get­ting more kids and gain­ing pop­ular­ity — but the skills are get­ting so much bet­ter. Kids can catch and throw with ease, un­der­stand spa­cing, get de­fens­ive prin­ciples.”

Al­though McDe­vitt is now at the top of his game, hav­ing played pro­fes­sion­ally with­in Ma­jor League Lacrosse, he was in­tro­duced to the sport much later than most com­pet­it­ors. 

It wasn’t un­til his fresh­man year at Penn Charter High School when McDe­vitt picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time, and he hasn’t been able to put it down since. 

“I was a typ­ic­al ath­lete grow­ing up — played foot­ball, bas­ket­ball, base­ball,” ex­plained McDe­vitt, who played for Cal­vary Ath­let­ic As­so­ci­ation be­fore earn­ing a foot­ball schol­ar­ship to Penn Charter. “At Penn Charter, they played lacrosse. Tony Resch was the coach at the time. He con­vinced me that lacrosse would be a good op­tion for me. I in­stantly fell in love with it.”

McDe­vitt was a four-year varsity play­er at Penn Charter, where he earned All-League hon­ors three times and dur­ing his seni­or cam­paign, was named All-State. 

His high school hero­ics earned McDe­vitt a lacrosse schol­ar­ship to Duke Uni­versity, where he was named All-Amer­ic­an three times and was lis­ted as the sixth-top de­fense­man in the coun­try by In­side Lacrosse magazine. 

In 2007, he gradu­ated with a bach­el­or’s de­gree in his­tory and a minor in eco­nom­ics. He went on to earn a mas­ter’s de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from Duke Uni­versity’s Fuqua School of Busi­ness in ’09.

In 2008, he was se­lec­ted in the second round of the Ma­jor League Lacrosse col­legi­ate draft by the New Jer­sey Pride. His pro­fes­sion­al ca­reer was short-lived, however. He tore his men­is­cus that rook­ie sea­son. 

“It all pretty much crumbled from there,” said McDe­vitt, who also played for the Long Is­land Liz­ards. “I’m now tak­ing a year off. I had knee sur­gery, so I’m re­cov­er­ing.”

Al­though his play­ing ca­reer is cur­rently on hi­atus, McDe­vitt is cer­tainly stay­ing in­volved in the game. 

“The camp is so ex­cit­ing be­cause the game is grow­ing rap­idly, not just in the Phil­adelphia area, but throughout the en­tire coun­try,” he con­tin­ued. “As the sport grows — we have a lot of tal­ent in North­east Phil­adelphia es­pe­cially — we want to give them an­oth­er op­tion to try a sport that they might turn out to love.”

The Philly’s Finest camp has no skill level or age re­quire­ments, al­though McDe­vitt ex­plained that most par­ti­cipants are in ele­ment­ary school. This year, the cost was $50 per fam­ily for the two-day camp. All pro­ceeds be­nefited the Tony McDe­vitt Found­a­tion, which provides youth ath­letes with schol­ar­ship money. 

“The found­a­tion star­ted this year,” he ex­plained. “I grew up in North­east Phil­adelphia, but I was un­able to play lacrosse be­cause it wasn’t an op­tion. I don’t want any­one else to wait un­til high school or nev­er have a chance to play the sport. That’s why I star­ted the camp. 

“The found­a­tion co­in­cides,” he con­tin­ued. “I know what it’s like when every ex­pense mat­ters, es­pe­cially if you are from a big fam­ily. If I can help one or two kids every year who demon­strate they want to re­ceive an edu­ca­tion and have that need for help as well as the level of lacrosse abil­ity, that is what this is all about.” 

Be­cause he now lives in New York City full time, McDe­vitt uses va­ca­tion time to run the North­east camp every year. It’s a great op­por­tun­ity to give back to the sport that has helped ac­com­plish so much in life, he ex­plained.

“I fo­cus my at­ten­tion on do­ing it every year. It’s not a big sac­ri­fice for me. It’s a lot of fun,” McDe­vitt said. “Foot­ball deep down is my love when it comes to ath­let­ics, but lacrosse is something that played a big part in my life. 

“Lacrosse mixes a ton of sports,” he ad­ded. “You need con­di­tion­ing like a soc­cer play­er. It has the in­tens­ity of foot­ball, and is tac­tic­al like bas­ket­ball. There are so many com­par­is­ons. For me, I love be­ing act­ive and I’m com­pet­it­ive, so lacrosse is a per­fect mix.” •• 

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