In his sophomore season at Canandaigua Academy, A.J. Groot was selected to be on the varsity lacrosse team. That season he scored his first high school goal. Groot was assisted by one of his senior captains. But it wasn’t just his teammate and captain; it was his older brother Dan Groot.
Brothers Dan and A.J. Groot are a new addition to the Castleton men’s lacrosse team. Dan is a first year Graduate Assistant. He handles the Spartan offense, and monitors the team’s study hall off the field. After graduating high school, A.J. spent one semester at SUNY Cortland and then spent two years at Finger Lakes Community College, where he played lacrosse. After hearing about his brother’s enrollment at Castleton, A.J. jumped at the opportunity to be able to be on the same team as his brother once again.
Dan is a 2009 graduate of the University of Maryland. During his four years he earned many accolades including two selections to the US Lacrosse All-America team in 2007 and 2009, the Edwin Powell award, which was for the greatest service to the team, and the William P. Cole III award, which was given to the most outstanding midfielder. In 2006 he also received the Levitt Memorial, which is given to the most outstanding freshman. He was also named team captain in 2009 for the Terrapins, and was a member of the ACC All-Tournament Team and made the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
After his collegiate career, Dan played in Major League Lacrosse for the Washington Bayhawks. Now, he currently plays in the LXM Pro Lacrosse Tour. He was most recently drafted second in the MLL Supplemental Draft, by the Rochester Rattlers.
Dan and A.J. are two years apart, but despite the age difference they still remained close as ever from childhood to present day.
“I would say we’re best friends,” A.J. said.
“Growing up we did everything together, fight, cause problems,” Dan said as they both looked at each other and laughed.
“There were times we would fight to the death,” A.J. said.
A.J. said even when Dan would hang out with his friends he would usually find a way to tag along with them. But Dan insists that he would always have to come to A.J.’s defense anytime this happened.
“He would always poke fun at my friends and then I would have to save him,” Dan said.
Although they had a very close nit relationship both agreed the occasional sibling rivalry would kick in.
“Yeah I never really got to win at anything,” A.J. laughed. “It made me better though. It gave me the mentality I have today.
Both Dan and A.J. could not talk about lacrosse without mentioning their father Randy Groot.
“He was the main factor in both of our lacrosse careers,” AJ said.
They said he was one of the main reasons for them choosing lacrosse out of all the other sports. He was even responsible for creating the youth league in their home town of Canandaigua, N.Y.
They said growing up, Randy could get a little “intense” sometimes. For instance on one occasion he ran up to A.J. during a game and grabbed him by the mask and yelled at him. A.J. laughed and said that his father even got approached by the referee to stop, but even that didn’t phaze him. They both said it’s just a mix of his passion for the game and his love for both of them.
When Dan played at the University of Maryland, his father would make the six-hour drive for almost all of his games and he still makes the four-hour trip to Castleton to watch A.J. and Dan today.
AJ was able to play one season in high school with his brother and now Dan is one of his coaches.
“I like him as both. He’s always been a coach anyway. I learned everything I know from him and my dad. I mean he’s my brother I love him,” A.J. said.
Dan added that he doesn’t try to be harder on A.J. or give him special treatment, but comparing himself to his father, he insists the apple doesn’t really fall far from the tree.
“I mean I’m pretty hard on everyone but I would say I expect more from him. That comes down from a totem pole from my father,” Dan said.
Senior midfielder Craig MacDerment had kind words to say about both Dan and A.J. and thinks they both will be key assets to the team’s success this season.
“He [A.J.] is a great person for younger players to look up to because of his great lacrosse skills.
He definitely helped replace some of the offensive talent we graduated from this previous season,” MacDerment said.
“[Dan] is a very enthusiastic coach that demands perfection from every player on our team. He introduced a new style of offense this year that will definitely help the offensive production this season,” he said.
After graduating from Maryland, Dan heard about the Graduate Assistant position at Castleton from a friend and realized the opportunity was too good for him to let pass by. Although A.J. had never heard of Castleton before, he learned about it from his brother and realized the small school environment might just be the perfect fit for him.
“I had never been here, I never heard of it up until I heard about him coming here. But I love it up here,” A.J. said.
Dan insists he always knew that coaching was in his future whereas A.J. doesn’t quite sing the same tune.
“I always knew I wanted to coach. I just love coaching,” Dan said.
“I’m kind of the type where tell me to do it and I do it. I would love to try it though maybe like an assistant,” A.J. said.
In the future Dan hopes to become a history teacher or a head coach, and A.J., who majors in physical education, hopes to find a job in the teaching department as well.
“I plan on being a head coach somewhere,” Dan said.
“Maybe I’ll be the assistant for (Dan),” AJ added.