Georgetown senior lacrosse defenseman Andrew Braziel's parents don't always understand him. Braziel is a psychology major and a pre-med candidate at Georgetown; he already has completed his pre-med courses and is hoping to go to medical school in the fall of 2006.
"To be truthful, I actually don't know what he's talking about half the time when he starts using scientific terms," said Lawrence Braziel, Andrew's father. "I just go, 'Okay, okay.' "
There was something else about their son they didn't understand: why he had such trouble getting into college.
Braziel graduated in the top three in his class at Cape Elizabeth High in Maine in 2000. He had 1,400 on the SAT, was the captain of three sports teams, acted in school plays and was the senior class president.
His main choices were Cornell and Georgetown. He didn't get into either.
However, Braziel and his high school principal asked the schools to reconsider the application. In the interim, he was set to attend Colgate. By early summer, he had accepted a spot on the school's lacrosse team.
Then Cornell called. The school had reconsidered his application and was admitting him, albeit for the January semester. Braziel was ready to go there.
Until Georgetown called in early July.
"He wasn't on our magic list, because we thought he could get in on his own," Georgetown Coach Dave Urick said. "We were surprised when he didn't. I went away for the summer, and when I came back there was a note from him on my desk and something from the admissions department saying he had gotten off the wait list. . . . The only reason he is here is because he is persistent enough that he would not take 'No' for an answer."
Getting into Georgetown may have been difficult. Things got harder once he got there. Athletically, Braziel was competing against players from more competitive high school programs (there are only a handful of Division I players from Maine). His class schedule as a pre-med candidate made it impossible for him to lift weights or run with his teammates, so he did it on his own.
"And that's a tough thing," Urick said. "When you're in there with other people, they can sort of push you. Going on your own takes a lot of discipline."
That discipline was apparent to his teammates. They remember the bus trip home from a victory over Duke in 2002 when, while they laughed and celebrated, Braziel was studying for a test in organic chemistry the next day.
"I think that was a class that had its tests on Mondays," said Neal Goldman, a senior attackman and captain. "I couldn't believe all the work Braz had."
These days, with his pre-med courses done, much of Braziel's hardest work is done on the lacrosse field. He is a two-year starter and a team captain this year. Today at 1 p.m., he will start for the Hoyas (10-3) against Towson (11-4) in an NCAA tournament first-round game at Harbin Field.
Towson plays five attackmen extensively, including freshmen Jonathan Engelke (31 goals) and Bobby Griebe (21 goals). They will face a defense led by Braziel, sophomores Reyn Garnett and John Trapp and junior longstick midfielder Brodie Merrill.
"I think we are all good one-on-one defenders," Braziel said. "Reyn is a big guy, but he has experience playing football so he moves well from side-to-side. I think we each have pretty good quickness."
And, needless to say, the captain back there is a pretty hard worker. He learned that hard work can pay off at a young age. Braziel worked at a seafood restaurant, starting as a busboy at age 14; when he continued to work there four more summers, the owners of the restaurant gave him a reward of a week in the Grand Cayman Islands, with free airfare and room and board.
"He had a great four years of high school, he was everywhere," said his mother, Susan Braziel. "Then in his senior year he got crushed. . . . He liked Georgetown the best of his schools. On our visit, he went to the top of the stairs of the main building, looked out and said, 'This is my school.' "