Junior Ned Crotty is helping lead the Blue Devils to another successful season on the field. The midfielder ranks in the top 10 in the conference in goals, assists, and points per game. Crotty is not only accomplished in the sport of lacrosse, but was the New Jersey Player of the Year in ice hockey during his senior year of high school. Crotty took a few minutes to chat with theACC.com about his lacrosse career and expectations for the ACC Lacrosse Championship.
When did you start playing lacrosse?
I started playing when I was in fifth grade. I was in to playing new sports. It's a real big sport at Delbarton High School and my brother's friends played, so it seemed natural to try it out. Hockey was also one of my big sports - I have skated since I was three years old. I saw a lot of hockey players who also played lacrosse.
What other teams have you competed on leading up to your college career?
I played for my town team in Madison (N.J.), for Delbarton and then Duke. (For hockey), I played on a bunch of different club teams in New Jersey. I was born in Albany, N.Y., so that's where I started skating, then (we) moved to Minnesota for two years and hockey really picked up there. Then I moved to New Jersey and have lived there for 14 years now and skated up until my senior year of high school.
Why did you choose to continue lacrosse rather than hockey?
I knew I could play either hockey or lacrosse in college, but the timelines are very different for them. I committed to Duke for lacrosse the summer before senior year of high school. Usually with hockey, you have to wait until a year or two out of high school to start talking to colleges. I had a bunch of (lacrosse) offers heading into my senior year of high school, so it seemed like the right idea to play lacrosse.
Can you talk about what it was like growing up in such an athletic family, including being related to former Duke basketball player Mike Dunleavy?
Almost related! Mike and my sister Sarah are getting married this summer. All three of my older sisters were real big into ballet, and my brother played hockey competitively. My sister Martha, who is in between me and my brother, played field hockey and lacrosse, and my little sister (Virginia) plays lacrosse here (at Duke). It's in our blood. It's a big family and everybody was always doing something, being active, playing sports. I guess you could say it can get a little competitive. It was also fun because everyone encouraged each other.
What is the best advice you have received from a coach?
Forget the past. If you make a mistake, move on. Have a short memory because if you dwell too much on mistakes, you'll destroy the rest of the game.
Who is your most influential role model?
My dad and my brother. My dad was also really athletic and did a lot of sports growing up, and he was from a family of seven like us. He always has a lot of advice and tips - I never told him that I took it! - but I was always listening. My brother was such a competitive hockey player, and he was highly recruited. He helped me through the whole (recruitment) process, and even now he calls me after games to talk about what happened, what I thought, or what he saw when he watched the game.
What is your most memorable moment in sports, either as an athlete or as a fan?
I have to say the national championship game last year. Although it didn't turn out the way we wanted, running out and playing Johns Hopkins in front of 50,000 people all going nuts was exciting. It was emotional too, thinking about where we were a year before that (and everything we went through), and then to look at us a year later and (see) where we got. It was the highlight of my athletic career. Growing up playing lacrosse, my dream was always to play for a national championship.
What is your personal greatest accomplishment as an athlete?
Making the NCAA Tournament Team last year was great. As a senior in high school, I was also the Player of the Year in both hockey and lacrosse.
What do you still hope to accomplish?
Obviously I'd love to get back to the national championship game and win it this time. We did a lot of great things last year, except take home the trophy at the end. I think this year we have a great chance to get it. We've had a few big wins, but after every win we go back and critique ourselves. I'd love to get to Gillette Stadium and win a national championship this year.
What will it take to accomplish that this year?
Exactly what we've been doing so far. After this year's Hopkins game - which was a good win for us - sure enough on Monday morning, the coaches were telling us what we did wrong. Hopkins had six goals, but that was six mistakes that we made. The coaches aren't saying, "Great job, don't worry about it." They critique us and tell us how we can do better. We're also really hard on ourselves. After we beat Army, even though we won we were not happy with the way that we played. I think that mentality will help us this year down the stretch.
What is it like playing in the ACC, where all four teams are national contenders?
It's unbelievable. It's another thing that I dreamt of while growing up and watching (these teams). It's unbelievable to play in a conference where we can go and play two of the best teams in the country in one weekend. If we win (tonight against North Carolina), we'll play either Virginia or Maryland on Sunday, which are two of the better teams in the country. Every time we play a conference game, we can't take anything for granted.
What is your favorite aspect of the ACC Championship?
Probably the fact that it's a great preparation for the NCAA Tournament. Chances are there won't be any blow-out games, they'll all be close and intense and just overall great competition - that's why we play. There are no byes or teams that really don't belong, there are four really good teams. That's why you want to play; you want to play in big games.
Are there any games this year that stand out for as being a great game for the team or for you personally?
The Hopkins game was a lot of fun, especially after what happened last year (in the national championship game). We like to say that wasn't in our minds, but of course it was a little bit. That was also one of our better games this year offensively, defensively, facing off - every aspect of the game. It made us feel really good. We had a lot of alumni in the crowd that day, so that was an awesome win for us.
Why did you choose Duke?
I am actually the fourth person in my family to come here, and my little sister is the fifth. When I was getting recruited, I tried to keep that out of my mind. It almost made me want to go somewhere else because I had so many family members here. In the end, I thought that the players were the warmest here. They really welcomed me and made me feel right at home. The coaches did a great job recruiting me and making me feel wanted. That's the most important part of recruiting, to go where you feel wanted.
Do you have any ideas yet about what you want to do after graduation?
I'm very seriously thinking about taking my fifth year. I'm probably going to take the opportunity to play an extra year. Hopefully I'll attend graduate school, and after that I'm not really sure!
What is your favorite movie?
That's a tough one... maybe I should have prepared for this! (laughs) I recently saw "No Country for Old Men." I wouldn't say it's my favorite, but I recently saw it and really liked it.
Ned Crotty and the Blue Devils take on North Carolina in an ACC Championship semifinal match-up at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25. ACC Select will provide coverage of the championship.