Academics. Leadership. Lacrosse. These three pursuits are the focus of John Mills’ life. He works hard at all three. He is successful at all three. In fact, he’s been so successful, he’s ready to make those three pursuits the centerpiece of his college experience next fall at Washington & Lee University.
John has been focused on the first two of those pursuits nearly his entire life. Growing up, his parents instilled the importance of getting a good education early on.
John’s father, Greg Mills says, “The priority for me and my wife is academics, and frankly lacrosse is 2nd. John knew this growing up. He focused on being a good student. I always told both my boys, find your passion in life. John’s passion is lacrosse.”
For John, his passion for lacrosse didn’t come till relatively later in life. His first passion was basketball. He says, “I wanted to play a more physical sport. But my parents wouldn’t let me play football, for better or worse. So lacrosse was the compromise. I started playing, and still liked basketball more. But as I got older, I realized how much quicker lacrosse became. I fell in love with the speed and physicality of lacrosse.”
John joined the ADVNC San Francisco Region during his freshman year in High School. Still a novice to the sport, he immersed himself in the game quickly. He studied lacrosse games on YouTube, and focused intently on strategy and then worked out on his own to improve his skills.
Both John and his dad credit former UVA lacrosse players Matt Kugler & Chris Clements, who have coached John throughout his ADVNC career, for helping develop John’s overall game.
Says John, “Being able to have the same coaches has played a very key role. They encouraged me to try new skills. They showed me the way the game is supposed to be played. They encouraged me to have fun playing.”
Greg agrees in saying, “Kugler & Clements have been great role models on and off the field. They’ve helped John both as a lacrosse a player, and as a man. They’ve taught him a lot about lacrosse, but a lot about life as well.”
As John grew and improved as a player, he realized he had both the aspiration and talent to play in college. And he knew he wanted to combine lacrosse with his other two passions, academics and leadership. He also wants to go to medical school and become a doctor. And he wants to study abroad for a semester during college. So he set out to find a college that would fit all of his needs.
Greg says, “John identified 4 schools he wanted to seriously look at. Washington & Lee was one of them. He liked the small school size. The classes are small and you are intimately involved with the professors. Most importantly, the school is very involved in developing leadership. So that aspect of Washington & Lee was very appealing to John.”
Washington & Lee was already recruiting John when their head coach, Gene McCabe came to the Best in the West Recruiting Showcase this past July. Both John & Greg Mills credit Chris Rotelli and Greg Weigel of ADVNC for helping John’s college recruitment in general, and specifically with W&L.
“They (Rotelli & Weigel) give your child visibility when your child shows up at a prospect day. You aren’t 1 of 500 players. They’ve already called the coaches and said, ‘watch John Mills.’ That was huge,” says Greg Mills.
Now that the Mills have gone through the recruiting process, they are reflective on the past 3+ years.
Greg says, “I feel lucky as a father. John is always happy, no matter what life throws his way, he makes the best of it. John really gets joy out of lacrosse. He really looks forward to playing. He works out on his own all the time. Loves the people he plays with. That passion, plus his great friends is the reason he loves lacrosse so much.
“It’s never too late to pick up lacrosse,” says John. “I came into ADVNC my freshman year and was welcomed in.” He adds one parting one word of wisdom, “focus on your academics. The majority of schools that play lacrosse are the better academic institutions. Put in your work and stay on top of your grades!”