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Nick Mariano focused on his opponent across the backyard in Yorktown Heights, New York. He’s disadvantaged — Nick’s brother Tom is 23 years older. Tom advanced toward the cage, and moments later a lacrosse ball whizzed past Nick’s head and into the net behind him.
Several years later, Nick is the one scoring the goals in Major League Lacrosse and Tom, his childhood opponent, is on the sideline coaching him and the Chesapeake Bayhawks.
“That was like the one time where everyone would get together,” Nick said of playing backyard lacrosse with his siblings. “Everyone would just enjoy lacrosse together and we would have fun.”
Before becoming an MLL champion with the Chesapeake Bayhawks, Nick spent two seasons playing for Syracuse. He helped lead the Orange to an Atlantic Coast Conference title and two NCAA quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2017. Nick was then drafted fourth overall by his brother, Tom, and the MLL’s Florida Launch. Two years later, Nick was traded to the Chesapeake Bayhawks where his brother was the assistant coach and eventually, at the conclusion of their 2019 championship season, Tom became the Bayhawks’ head coach.
“I kinda pinch myself because I grew up wanting to be a professional lacrosse player.” Nick said. “To live out those dreams and share it with my brother as being a coach it was really special for me”
Although the Marianos’ father never played lacrosse, he’s watched the sport for over 30 years and instilled the game into his three sons and daughter from a young age. Tom picked up the game in high school and his siblings followed.
Tom played for Nazareth College and won a Division-III NCAA title before beginning his coaching career at Sacred Heart and Pace University. In 2013, Tom landed a position with the Ohio Machine of the MLL.
That same year, Nick graduated from Yorktown High School and landed a spot at University of Massachusetts. But UMass was simply a pitstop for Nick. Syracuse, Nick’s of dream school, didn’t extend an offer to him out of high school and remained silent even after he entered the transfer portal following his sophomore season.
Nick traveled West to the Vail Lacrosse Tournament, a premier youth showcase tournament held in Vail, Colorado, in an attempt to get Syracuse to offer him a spot with the Orange. At the tournament, Nick was awarded Offensive MVP honors and caught the eye of Syracuse recruiters, who offered him a spot on their roster. Nick Mariano was heading to SU.
“A lot of it has to do with the mentality of the Syracuse lacrosse program.” Nick said, “You know you’re expected to win there. You’re expected to have higher expectations than any other program.”
During his time at Syracuse, Nick scored a team-high 35 goals, held a scoring streak in 13 consecutive games that ranked 10th in the nation and became a Tewaaraton Award Semifinalist. After college, Nick joined the Launch, coached by Tom. Initially, Nick was nervous about how his teammates would view him with Tom on the coaching staff. Yet, Nick’s success at Syracuse and talent overpowered any sense of nepotism on the team. In his first season with the Launch, while only playing in eight games, Nick recorded 16 goals, four assists and one caused turnover.
“I don’t treat him any different than anybody else,” Tom said. “I’ve always been very careful that there is no preferential treatment, if anything I’m probably harder on him.”
There are only a handful of family duos in professional lacrosse, Nick said, and the unique experience has benefitted them both. For Tom, it’s been rewarding to coach and improve Nick’s game while also witnessing his accomplishments first-hand. Tom’s presence has also helped Nick mature into more of a leader on the field by controlling the “ups and downs in a game” than he was in college, Nick said.
Nick and Tom are playing their backyard game on the professional stage, together.
“A lot has to do with surrounding yourself with people who want to be great at what they do,” Nick said. “That was what my family was like, especially what it came to not only being a lacrosse player but a person. They always pushed me to be great at everything I did.”
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