Darien lacrosse alum Gleason stepping up at Dickinson
As a four-time lacrosse State Champion at Darien High School, Brian Gleason is used to tasting success. As a freshman at D-III Dickinson College, the attacker has seemingly picked up right where he left off, contributing valuable minutes off the bench while helping the Red Devils to a 6-1 record to begin the season.
Although he's started only one game, Dickinson has already tallied three goals and five assists. His eight points are good for seventh on the team. His biggest game came against Kenyon College on March 9 when he scored a pair of goals and dished out an assist to help his team to a 15-6 win.
"The speed is obviously very different, and so is the pace up and down the field," Gleason said. "Everyone is faster and stronger so there aren't mismatches like in high school."
And while lighting up the stat sheet is nothing new for Gleason, his college coach is seemingly most impressed with his ability to fit the Dickinson system with a solid work ethic.
"Our first impression of Brian was that he was a purposeful and committed young man," Gleason coach Dave Webster said. "We hope to recruit young men of character who also happen to be talented student-athletes. Brian has been a great fit."
Dickinson has had a long-standing relationship with Darien High School, as the team currently boasts a total of five (John Haire, Kevin Joy, Michael Gasparino, Connor Sullivan and Gleason) former Blue Wave lacrosse players.
Gleason went out of his way to compliment his fellow DHS alumni for helping to convince him that Dickinson was the place to go, as well as helping him get adjusted to college lacrosse.
"One of our senior captains at Darien, John Haire, is a senior captain here at Dickinson, so during my process of looking at colleges I emailed him and asked him some questions," Gleason said. "Kevin Joy and Mike Gasparino told me what it's all about and that we're getting more on the serious side, and they got me pumped up to come be part of this."
Dickinson is only about halfway through its 15-game regular season, but for Gleason and company, there's only one goal: Win the Centennial Conference.
"We obviously want to take one game at time, but we want to win the Centennial Conference. We've never beaten Gettysburg for it, so that's a goal," Gleason said. "We've got to beat some top programs, but this could be the year we could do it."
Although his days as a Blue Wave lacrosse player are behind him, Gleason still enjoys reminiscing about the incredible success of the DHS lacrosse program. Gleason's run at Darien included a quartet of State and FCIAC titles.
"It was definitely special. I don't think I realized it until I came here and talked to some people who haven't won a State Championship," Gleason said. "I was lucky enough to win four years. I'm proud to tell people I'm from Darien and how successful we were in high school."
The Darien lacrosse team, which is ranked No. 3 in the nation, will have the challenge of moving on without Gleason and his 74 points (42 goals, 32 assists) as a senior. Both numbers were good for second-best on the team.
Darien coach Jeff Brameier indicated that he'll miss Gleason but that he also believes his current band of Blue Wave players are up to the task of continuing the program's success.
"He was our lefty attack and one of our captains. He worked hard to get into the starting lineup as senior. He was a solid outside scorer and inside finisher," Brameier said. "I think our philosophy is that it's someone else's turn. That was how he felt when it was his turn to step in when it was his senior year."
For Brameier, it came as no surprise that his former senior captain went on to play college lacrosse.
"I think that all my kids that come into the program can work their way into college if their motivated and dedicated," Brameier said. "Brian was excellent at that. He had nice skills and was a good lefty player, and [being lefty is] always an advantage moving into college. A lot of teams don't have lefties and you need at least one."
Although he enjoyed tremendous success at Darien, Gleason, who also played quarterback in football and shooting guard in basketball during his freshman and sophomore years, had to battle back from a nagging back injury, which he believes was sustained from the twisting motion in lacrosse and from taking hits in football. Doing so required him to stop playing both football and basketball so that he could concentrate solely on lacrosse.
"Going into my junior year I fractured my back and had to put in four months of rehab," Gleason said. "I missed summer lacrosse, so I had to make that back up and play fall lacrosse and spend the winter lifting."
With his back no longer an issue, Gleason is looking to make his first season of college lacrosse a memorable one, and his coach only anticipates that he will continue to make great contributions throughout his time at Dickinson.
"We envision Brian continuing to make a positive contribution toward our success," Webster said. "His role will continue to develop and he will continue to work hard to improve and make progress. He is a hard worker and brings great energy to our team."