Former Hood River Valley High School lacrosse standouts Jon Munk and Todd Shypertt have been teammates for a long time — four years to be exact.
HRV’s two all-conference first-team selections know what makes each other tick, and they aren’t afraid to point out their strengths and weaknesses to help each other improve.
Which is one of the main reasons Munk and Shypertt plan to remain teammates for the next four years at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif.
“Having someone from my hometown on the team will definitely help with the transition,” said Munk, a two-sport star who led the Eagles with 44 goals in 2003.
“It will be nice to have someone to lean on down there, and I’m really looking forward to a fresh start.”
Shypertt is looking at his situation in much the same way, and says he feels honored to be recruited by such a quality school like NDNU.
“Most of the players on the roster are the best of the best,” said the second-team all-state defenseman.
“They have all won a bunch of awards, and Jon and I are going to have to work extra hard to earn playing time. But I think the internal competition will also make us better.”
Both players were awarded partial scholarships to play for NDNU, which will begin NCAA-sanctioned competition this year.
However, despite their scholarships, neither Munk nor Shypertt expects to receive any special treatment from coach Joe Romano or his staff.
“None of the freshmen will have it easy this year,” Munk said. “We’re all going to have to prove ourselves on the field and off, which can be kind of intimidating.”
But, if this Hood River duo can remain true to their high-school form, they won’t be backing down from anyone.
Anyone who has watched or played against Munk and Shypertt knows of their toughness. And anyone who has tried to get in their way has usually been thrust back to earth with a resounding thud.
Both players stand at more than 6 feet tall, and they have each made a commitment to strength and conditioning so they can maintain their dominance of the past four years.
“My motivation came last summer when I was named to Team Oregon,” Shypertt said. “I was named to the B team, which was cool. But I saw how some of the outgoing seniors on the A team played, and I wanted to be like them.”
So Shypertt committed himself to a strict training regimen that helped build his speed, agility and physical strength.
“It all paid off because I made the A team this summer,” he said. “It just shows that if you keep practicing and pushing yourself, you can reach any level you want.”
Munk subscribes to the same school of thought, but as an attacker, he has realized that the mental approach is even more critical to on-field success than physical strength.
“I was so confident last year that it was almost enough to carry me every game,” he said. “There were times when I felt like I was equal or better than everyone on the field, and you have to believe that if you are going to rise to the top.”
In fact, Munk rose so high that he was awarded with an all-state honorable mention to go with his first-team all-conference selection and team co-MVP award.
And, after the HRV program’s most successful season, it was no coincidence that the other co-MVP of the team was Shypertt.
“The recognition we got showed us how much we meant to the team,” Munk said. “Being the first two scholarship players to come out of the program shows how far lacrosse has come here in Hood River, and I’m glad we can continue on together.”
Munk and Shypertt both say that the scholarship money from NDNU helped persuade them to go to California. But they also find the Belmont area and the university much to their liking.
“People actually know you by name there,” Shypertt said in reference to the average class size of 12 students. “You’re not just a number, which should make it easier for us to get comfortable.”
Another bonus is the proximity to the beach, which means plenty of surfing opportunities.
“We’ll probably spend a lot of time at the beach,” Munk said. “It’s such a beautiful area and there is so much to do there. I doubt if we will be bored.”
And coach Romano will likely see to it that Munk and Shypertt have plenty to keep them busy when they’re not at the beach.
The former player and coach from Whittier College has been entrusted with building the NDNU program, which is the first varsity program at the scholarship level in the West.
“It’s going to be pretty intense,” Shypertt said. “But I’m sure it will all be worth it.”