North Salem resident Al Cantarella is a senior captain and defenseman on the Kennedy Catholic varsity boys lacrosse team.
How old were you when you first started playing lacrosse and how did you get started?
I started playing in second grade when my mom asked me if I wanted to try lacrosse, because a team was being put together.
What do you think are your strengths as a lacrosse player?
I’m fast and I feel I am pretty aware of my surroundings, which really helps when you’re looking for an open man or you’re trying to cover multiple guys in different areas.
The team won a state championship last season. What was that experience like and how much did it mean to you and the team?
The experience was unreal, the atmosphere and thought of playing for a title as we progressed through the postseason was insane. It was our goal from the first week of the season to be in the championship playing for the title. Actually accomplishing that goal was unreal for the team as it was our first state title for our program, but also achieving this with the team that we had was sweet. The team was very close last year and capping that season off with the win was the best way for that team to come to an end.
After losing some talented players to graduation, the team is still having a strong season this year. What are the expectations for the rest of the season?
We have been attempting to fill the holes left by graduates with young promising players who have the talent and determination to step into these empty spots and achieve success. This season we have been building experience and confidence among the players. We feel we have a chance to repeat what we did last year and with new players stepping up it keeps adding more wildcards for us.
What is it like playing for coaches Nick and Vin Savastano, who have had plenty of success as a coaching pair over the years?
I have played under them since seventh grade and they have been a big part of how I have grown in the sport and in life. They know how to coach the game, I’ve seen their game plans and on the fly adjustments for years now. They have created great opportunities for the players and allowed teams to play a caliber above themselves.
As a senior captain, how do you see your role on the team, and how much do you value being a team leader?
I see my role as being a leader and a model for the younger players. I try to stay positive and encourage the team during practices, especially when everyone is hurting and practice is hard. During games I just play hard and hope the team feeds off that energy and if we are slumping I try to pick us back up.
What is your favorite team activity, pre-game or post-game ritual that you share with your teammates?
After a big win when the team heads into the locker room or gets on the bus, the music starts going and everyone is in bliss singing and dancing. That moment is one of the best feelings one can experience.
Who has been your biggest role model over the years and what have you learned from them?
Avicii — I have followed him and his music since before he was Avicii and still under his real name, Tim Bergling. I fell in love with his music and he taught me to be yourself and if you put enough of your hard work and emotions into what you do things will be alright.
Tell us one thing about yourself that not a lot of people know?
I’m a big thrill seeker, love roller coasters, cliff jumping and all that type of stuff.
Do you plan on continuing to play lacrosse in college? If yes, where are you going and why did you choose that school?
I may play club; I decided not to pursue playing for a NCAA team. I felt it was a major commitment that I wasn’t up for. I am attending the University at Albany.
Do you know what you want to study in college? If yes, what and why?
I’m currently all over the place deciding from optometry, computer science or some finance.
Who is your favorite professional athlete and pro or college sports team?
Hideki Matsui of the Yankees. He was my favorite player when I was younger and my number would always be 55 after him. My favorite college team is Syracuse and my favorite pro teams are the Yankees, Miami Dolphins, New York Rangers and Chicago Bulls.
What is your favorite music to listen to warming up for a game?
EDM or a good house track gets me in a good zone.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Instant teleportation because I would be able to go wherever I wanted just by thinking of my destination and it’s a multipurpose power I could use for travel, fighting, escape or any other use I could think up.
If you could pick one place to visit on vacation that you’ve never been to, where would you go and why?
Stockholm, Sweden; I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden. It’s one of those places I enjoy the atmosphere and I want to check out their EDM scene as my favorite DJ is from Sweden. And you can’t forget their legendary blondes.
What is your favorite food to eat before or after a game?
Right before a game I like to have a cup of watermelon — it’s light but filling and hydrating. After a game going out for sushi or mexican is always a good look.
Best place to eat in North Salem and why?
The Blazer hands down — the chili or clam chowder is out of this world.
Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Why?
Instagram because the simple layout lets you jump in and out whenever, pictures connect more on both ends and the ads sometimes contribute cool stuff unlike Facebook and Twitter’s annoying sponsors with a little text slogan or the article ads.
For a young athlete growing up who is considering going to Kennedy Catholic, what would you tell them about the experience of being part of the lacrosse program and why should they go to Kennedy and go out for the team?
Mainly school is school, but since Kennedy takes from all different districts you’ll meet kids from a broader area than just a town school. Also I would highly encourage they go out for the lax team or any sport because that is a group of kids that you will know and will form a bond with. Throughout my years at Kennedy I have had many crazy memories and opportunities that I feel I wouldn’t have been able to replicate if I didn’t come.