Tommy Barnds is a standout Senior midfielder for Sacred Heart Prep and ADVNC, committed to follow in his father’s footsteps to play lacrosse at Princeton next August. Tommy’s father, Tom Barnds, was an All-American defenseman for Princeton, graduating in 1990.
“Deb and I are really proud of Tommy,” says the elder Barnds. “He put in the work to get better -- in the classroom, on the field and in the weight room. That work has allowed him to have good opportunities. Princeton was always his 1st choice, but wherever he chose, we would have been happy. Every child needs to follow his or her own path. I’m proud and pleased Princeton was at the top of his list, but we didn’t try to push him in that direction.”
That’s where the story sits right now. But of course, the story did not start there. When Tommy was a young boy, his dad had no aspirations this would all happen. In fact, he didn’t think his son would have options to play lacrosse in the Bay Area at all.
Tom says, “One day someone I barely knew called me up and said, ‘I hear you used to play lacrosse.’ I said I did and they wanted to see if Tommy was interested in playing on a team. So I signed Tommy up for the Firehawks, and the guy signed me up to coach the team without ever asking me!”
Tom has been coaching and Tommy has been playing on teams all over the Bay Area ever since.
Shortly after the Barnds started with the Firehawks, Tom heard that Chris Rotelli, a fellow former All-American lacrosse player, was moving ADVNC to the Peninsula, where the Barnds family had settled. He and some other lacrosse-loving parents reached out to Chris and asked if their sons could try-out for ADVNC, and they have been playing for Rotelli and ADVNC ever since.
Tom says, “We wanted to help Chris build a world-class youth travel club to help spread the game, and he has. It has been a great thing for our boys to be a part of”
The younger Barnds reminisces on the start of his lacrosse career. “I had played a ton of sports as a little kid, and I wasn’t super serious about any of them. But after I started playing lacrosse, I started to improve, and the game became more fun. I enjoyed it more than other sports.”
What is it like playing under the watchful eye of a father who was an outstanding player? “I always knew he played but I didn’t know how good he was until I got older,” says Tommy. “Over time, he told me stories about his playing days, including a play near the end of a close game in the NCAA tournament versus Johns Hopkins where he hid the ball in his glove and ran the clock out. Of course, that’s not legal.”
Tom, along with his wife Deb, now have three boys playing for ADVNC. They have seen the organization built from the ground up. Says Tom, “ADVNC has really helped Tommy play against great competition and see where he needed to get from a physical standpoint, an aggressiveness standpoint, and a skill standpoint. He plays against the best players in the country and is coached by the best coaches in the country.”
After a junior season at Sacred Heart Prep where he scored 65 goals and had 34 assists, won WCAL Player of the Year, and was named a US Lacrosse All-American, Tommy parlayed his combination of talent and hard work into a spot at one of the top lacrosse programs in the country.
Tommy says, “ I always wanted to go to Princeton or Stanford, because that’s where my parents went. They are both awesome schools. But Stanford doesn’t have a Division I lacrosse program. So we sent letters to Princeton and they came and watched me play and they invited me to prospect camps.”
When Princeton offered Tommy a spot on their team, his recruitment was over.
“It was an incredible feeling. A lot of hard work had gone into it. It was really exciting and good to hear. My Mom and Dad were really proud of me when I told them the news.”
Next fall, Tom will go back to his alma mater and see his oldest son wear the same uniform that he wore. He’s already thought about what it will feel like the first time he sees his son take the field. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a tear comes to my eye when I see him wearing that uniform. It was such a tremendous experience for me and I hope it will be for him as well.”