Positive Outlook Keeps Brendan Grimes Ready for Next Challenge


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Brendan Grimes capped off the achievement with an air-five. It wasn’t after a goal or any other lacrosse-related feat, but rather at the 176th commencement at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland — one of the countless spring traditions upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of a lengthy procession, seniors arrived at the north side of the Baltimore campus June 6 during a scheduled 30-minute period. They took individual portraits that were then photoshopped together to create the class picture. There was no race to get there early and reserve the best seats. Besides a couple family members, most watched via livestream as Chris Post, the school’s headmaster, stood more than six feet away at a lectern in front of Williams Hall and described each senior’s journey on Lake Avenue. 

“Brendan, for all your skill and success on the field, it’s your heart — the heart of a champion — that sets you apart,” Post said. “You’ve faced personal challenges over the years and you’ve worked so very hard to overcome them and confront them.”

Grimes had an especially tumultuous spring. Boys’ Latin’s lacrosse season ended just two games in. He was supposed to compete for the U.S. team in the World Lacrosse U19 Men’s World Championship in Limerick, Ireland. The event was postponed to 2021. Then his would-be college coach, Dave Pietramala, parted ways with Johns Hopkins.

Grimes was better prepared to handle the disruption than most. The Under Armour All-American hardly had a smooth ride the past two years. After starting his freshman year and setting the school’s sophomore scoring record the next spring, a low lumbar stress fracture forced him to miss almost all of his junior season.

Despite the setback, Grimes tried to be a positive influence at every practice and offered tips to freshman Dom Pietramala, Dave’s son, who filled in on the left side of the Lakers attack. Grimes also approached rehab with trainer Brandon Huggins like a pro.

“He is a kind-hearted young man that is really dedicated to his craft,” Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell said.

Offensive coordinator Pat Myers and the rest of the U.S. coaching staff were wowed by Grimes’ size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and his shot that called to mind 2016 U.S. U19 team star Mac O’Keefe when the tryouts for the 2020 squad were held last summer at US Lacrosse’s Tierney Field in Sparks, Md.

“He’s got incredible physical traits,” Myers said. “But his coachability and selfless attitude were things that really stood out to us.”

Blessed with a bevy of lefties on attack, the U.S. staff experimented running many of them out of the midfield. Grimes, who was cleared to play two weeks before the tryouts, stood out not only for his versatility, but also because he embraced the new role with a smile on his face.

One of only five 2020s on the current 24-player training roster, Grimes has emerged as a quiet leader. A calming presence when the ball is in his stick, he took charge after a loss against Culver Academy (Ind.) last fall and scored two goals to help the training team defeat The Hill Academy (Ontario) at Ohio State.

Grimes continued to demonstrate those traits for Boys’ Latin on weekly Zoom calls. While the hopes of wearing Maroon and White again faded as the spring progressed, Grimes followed Farrell’s advice and stayed ready. In addition to completing the training packet provided by Johns Hopkins, now under the direction of former Cornell coach Peter Milliman, this summer he has worked with Huggins on stride length, cadence and explosive movements. They spent Wednesday afternoons at Seminary Field, where he used to run around with the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council program.

“His mental fortitude and approach to what he’s doing is unlike any other athlete I’ve encountered at the high school level recently,” Huggins said.

Grimes has enjoyed spending more time with his family and walking Walter, their yellow Labrador retriever. Walter was the subject of another Boys’ Latin tradition: the senior speech.

Standing in front of the entire upper school inside the Gelston Athletic Center last fall, Grimes was more nervous than before a game. He settled in the same way he did after dropping his first pass against St. Paul’s his freshman year. He explained to the assembly how his dogs had helped shape the person he is today.

First there was Elwood, also a yellow lab, who died when Grimes was in eighth grade. “He was a serious dog, but a very loving dog,” Grimes said. Elwood showed him how to be ambitious, work hard and compete. 

Walter, who the Grimes family brought home his freshman year, acts more like a puppy. He always wags his tail and looks happy whether fetching a stick or chasing a squirrel. He’s entirely present. Walter helped Grimes stay positive and have fun.

Grimes will be among 23 players to travel to Ireland next summer as part of what is now the U.S. U20 team. The World Lacrosse Men’s U20 World Championship is June 17-26, 2021, at the University of Limerick.

“He has such a good outlook on lacrosse and life in general,” Myers said. “That’s a big part of what makes him great.”

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