By Ross Forman – Luke Lawrence has had quite a sporting career for Brother Rice, on and off the ice.
Let’s start on the baseball field, where he is a three-year varsity player. As a sophomore, he was called up to the varsity team two weeks before the playoffs. He played first base and was able to experience the playoff atmosphere for the first time.
Primarily a catcher, Lawrence also has played third base and elsewhere.
On the ice, Lawrence is a four-year defenseman who finished as a top 20 scorer in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League (CCHL) as a freshman, and a top 10 scorer the next two seasons. Lawrence also was Defensive Player of the Year, team captain and an All-State player as a junior.
“Hockey and baseball help each other in different ways. I love the fact that I play two sports and am able to be athletic enough to do so,” Lawrence said. “I love to play year-round. When hockey ends, I go right to baseball and the same thing, vice versa. I get to use different muscles and different motions to better my body and playing abilities for both sports.”
Lawrence, 17, who lives in Evergreen Park, will attend Webster University next fall where he will play baseball.
“The emotions are really high this season. I love to leave it all out on the ice and this year is obviously going to be more than ever because it’s my senior year. I’m excited to play and win,” Lawrence said, stressing the winning part.
“Last season was not where we wanted to finish, with a 6-11-1 league record. We went into that year with high hopes but lost tight games that could have helped us in the playoffs. At the end of the year, we waited to see if we would sneak into the playoffs, and luckily, we did. I believe our team deserved to be there, but we lost to Benet Academy in the first-round and Benet went on to win the Kennedy Cup.
“Going out in the first-round isn’t a fun feeling. It stings and there are lots of thoughts that go through your head, like what you could have done better or different.
“I never again want that feeling of being knocked out in the first-round.”
So, Lawrence is motivated to push Brother Rice toward the playoffs this season – and make a serious push for the Kennedy Cup.
“The team we have is a great group of kids that bond well together and we will be a scrappy team. It won’t always look pretty, but we will get the job done,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence is a left-handed shooting defenseman in jersey No. 19 a la his two favorite NHL players, Jonathan Toews and Matthew Tkachuk. He played his youth hockey for the St. Jude Knights and Northern Express.
“I’ve gotten stronger and faster from last year, my shot is ten times harder and my speed is improving,” Lawrence said. “I don’t think pressure is the right word, but there is some sort of feeling of tension because it’s my final season and last chance to make the most of it.
“I bring multiple things to the table. The best thing I bring is making others around me better. I know my teammates look up to me and listen to me. I lead on the ice and off. It’s important to earn other’s trust to be a good captain.”
“My leadership skills are about bringing the team together as a unit and being the best teammate I can be, including picking guys up after a bad shift or bad game. I help make sure everyone knows what their role is to the team and how their role helps everyone else succeed,” Lawrence said.
Brother Rice head coach Paul Manning tagged Lawrence as “a natural leader who always puts the team first.”
“His teammates can count on him to push them and hold them accountable,” Manning said. “Luke exemplifies what it is to be a Brother Rice Crusader.”
Slapshots With … Brother Rice defenseman Luke Lawrence
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite Sports-Themed Movies: Miracle and Moneyball
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Chicken Caesar Salad
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Sam Hunt
Best Hockey Tip: “When you fall, get back up.” – All coaches
Facts & Fun: “I’m a really good Bing bags player and ping pong player. I love to listen to music. I love to work out and become stronger. That is the main thing that helps my game, but also being able to play different sports and even if they’re not for a team but just a pickup game or for fun.”
Influences: “The biggest influencer on my career is my dad who has been my coach for basically my whole life. The way he pushes me to be better makes me see other sides of the game that a fan or person watching might not see. For example, playing without the puck is basically what you do for most of the game. He’s guided me to be the best player I can be and because of it, I am the person I am today.”
Memories: “My favorite hockey memory is winning state in my early years at St. Jude. Another memory was in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, while playing for Brother Rice in a shootout. I had the game-winning goal and everyone on my team hopped on the ice and celebrated with me. It’s a great feeling to help your team get the win.”
On The Ice: “I’m a 200-foot player; I play hard on both ends of the ice. I like to be creative with the puck and make plays that make people say ‘Wow!’ I hold on to the puck longer to make plays and create space instead of just giving it away. I know when to take a hit to make a play and when to dish the puck to an open man. I play every shift like it’s my last. I play every game with a chip on my shoulder and knowing who I am as a player and as a teammate.”
Lake Life: “I love to fish and be at lake houses. Being on a boat on a sunny day spending time with friends and family enjoying the day to the fullest.”
Teammate Who You Could See As A Coach: Edmund Vogrich
Hardest Slapshot On Your Team: Conor Foley
Most Accurate Shot: “Myself or Brett Jones.”
Fastest Skater: “Myself or Blake Mayer.”
Best High School Jerseys (other than Brother Rice): Marmion
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.