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MOUNT HEBRON TRIO REFLECTS ON UMBC LACROSSE, FRIENDSHIP
Getting Out What You Put In
3 seniors who have been friends since the start
by Scott Backman
Franklin Berry, Brad Preisinger, and Tommy Tittsworth have known each other since elementary school. Now years have passed and the friendship remains strong for these UMBC senior student-athletes from Ellicott City, MD (Mt. Hebron HS).
Tommy and Brad lived across the street from each other, while Franklin lived only a few minutes away. "I remember Tommy running to my house one day," said Franklin.
In their senior year at Mt. Hebron HS, they all played on the lacrosse and football team while staying disciplined in their academics. "Lacrosse has shaped us academically, and taught us how to manage our time effectively," said Tommy. "You know that you really get out what you put in."
It's no wonder how these three young men, who have had sports run in the family, eventually ended up at UMBC. It didn't seem to be too much of a decision-making process. They all had friends who were attending UMBC, and knew it would be a good opportunity. "I knew Franklin was looking here," said Tommy, who would like to pursue a career in coaching football or lacrosse and teaching history. "UMBC was also close to home with good academics and coaching. The community also helped make a decision towards choosing UMBC."
It was baseball, football, and basketball that Franklin was often playing. He played junior varsity lacrosse his freshman and sophomore years at Mt. Hebron high school. He then moved on to the varsity team his junior and senior years. "My heart and intentions were to play basketball in college," said Franklin. "But then I realized lacrosse was really the sport I would come to love. It was time to move on to something else more exciting."
Tommy also wanted to play Division I athletics. His passions were playing football and lacrosse, as well as running track and field. "There was never that one sport that stuck out," said Tommy. "I wanted to play Division I."
Brad had a more interesting path to UMBC. He put aside his aspirations to play college hockey to join his friends on the lacrosse field for his senior year at Mount Hebron. Although he didn't even know all the rules of the game as he stepped onto the varsity field, he was an instant hit, and seized the opportunity to join Franklin and Tommy as they were recruited by UMBC. The three have all been roommates since sophomore year.
"We are all best friends," said Franklin, who would like to work in the Information Technology field and pursue a Masters degree. "We know everything about one another; it's like the band of brothers."
Now seniors in college, they understand how it all comes together and pays off, on and off the field. "If there are ever any problems, whether with lacrosse or academics, we can talk about it," said Tommy, who got the love of sports from his older brother. "We can also hold each other accountable for certain things."
"It has been awesome," said Brad, a sociology major who may pursue a career in law enforcement. "You have your ups and downs, but there is always someone there that you can talk to."
Being a student athlete is a demanding job, and you're able to learn valuable lessons along the way. "Staying consistent with my commitment [to academics and lacrosse] has helped out a lot," said Franklin, when asked about his college experience. "It's hard to deal with a lot of the work since we go on the road for lacrosse, and have practice along with games. But we stay disciplined in our work."
All three student-athletes have made a major impact on the lacrosse program. Franklin Berry was named one of the team's tri-captains in his senior season. The speedy midfielder has not missed a game in four seasons (46 straight) and is approaching the 50-point plateau for his career. Brad Preisinger has been a starter on defense in 21 of the last 22 games in his junior and senior seasons. He earned a Retriever Club Scholarship Award last spring, given to one of four outstanding juniors for their senior academic year.
Tommy Tittsworth has competed in 35 games over 4 years, and the defensive midfielder has made contributions on and off of the lacrosse field. Recently, he was selected as UMBC's Coca-Cola Community All American for his excellence in community service. Tommy has volunteered over 250 hours to mentoring middle school students, working with mentally and physically challenged children in the "Ride With Pride" horseback riding program, coaching in the Howard County Heroes Lacrosse League, and assisting firefighters at the Elkridge Fire House.
As their collegiate playing days wind down, it is apparent that it will be difficult when it finally comes to an end. "It has been one of the most important parts of my life for four seemingly quick years," said Franklin earlier this season. "I don't want to consider how it will be when the journey is finally over."
"I know that last home game will be a very emotional experience," said Brad.
Rightfully, these three friends have earned their successes, and deserve it. "If I had to do it again, I'd do the same thing," Franklin concluded.
Steve Levy contributed to this article.