A Family Tradition - James Riordan

For junior lacrosse player Jimmy Riordan, athletics has always been a family affair. For an athlete, that not only suggests good genes but also indicates a strong support system. Riordan's parents and four siblings were all athletes and have each contributed a great deal to make him the player that he is today.

"My two older brothers, Terry and Danny, both played lacrosse. Terry played at Johns Hopkins and Danny played at C.W. Post, and both my sisters played volleyball," he says of his athletic siblings.

Growing up in such an athletic environment, Riordan at first had no interest in lacrosse and wanted to play baseball instead. But around third grade, he became enthralled by his current sport when introduced to it by his mother.

"My mom signed me up for lacrosse and I played in a junior league with a bunch of my friends. I ended up loving the game and stopped playing little league. Since then I've never been a big fan of baseball," Riordan said of the then newfound passion that took over his primary interest.

By the time high school came around, Riordan stayed dedicated to the game of lacrosse, but also expanded his athletic abilities to football, which he kept up for four years. The two sports would occasionally conflict and he was forced to make his preferences eventually.

"It was tough during the summer because my football coach would always want me to go to summer practices but I was also in a lacrosse summer league so they conflicted. Playing football did keep me in shape and kind of toughened me up for lax season," Riordan reflected.

However this balance was never a cause of friction and his love for lacrosse ultimately prevailed. "I was always kind of more dedicated to lacrosse than football so I usually went to my lacrosse games."

These lacrosse games must have paid off because his performances earned him a much sought-after recruiting process as Penn, Hofstra, Loyola and Princeton all came calling. Ultimately he chose Penn, and has not regretted a day of it since, noting that the Ivy League competition exceeded his initial expectations.

"It's great competing in the Ivy League. Before I came to college, the only Ivy League school I thought was good was Princeton because that was the only team I really heard about in high school. Now playing against all the Ivy teams I've realized how competitive the league is and that all the teams are very good," Riordan said.

This may have been something new for Riordan but in no way was it intimidating. Riordan had surely known a thing or two about collegiate lacrosse because both of his brothers went through the process at different schools.

"Both Terry and Danny played collegiate lacrosse and it was a great help having two older brothers that play lacrosse while growing up. They were both great lacrosse players in college so they knew a great deal about the game," Riordan said.

Danny played midfield and Terry was an attacker like the youngest Riordan son. Fortunately the different perspectives his brothers held at their positions have taught him many different things. "They were, and still are, always there to teach and push me and are very supportive. I've learned a lot from my two older brothers and I probably wouldn't be the player I am if it weren't for them," he proudly acknowledges.

The player that he is now is experienced and confident in the team's road to success. His main goals for his remaining two years are to recapture a spot in the NCAA Tournament and win a national championship. "I really think that our team is capable of doing it because we have a lot of skilled players. The feeling of being in the play-offs was a great one and I really want to get back to that. I think we have a great chance at winning the Ivy League too," said Riordan of his team's chances for the current year. "We have to use this season to show other teams that we're a good team that deserves to be in the play-offs every season."

Coming from an athletic family, this sociology major will tell you that "sport is going to be important to you and it's tough to always put school first." But like he has in his experience at Penn thus far, finding a balance is possible. And like one of his idols - Superman, who balanced two personae - Riordan has managed to balance the student and the athlete within himself.

"Helping people and being the hero is what Superman is all about. So when I'm out on the field I try doing my best to help out the team anyway I can and it motivates me to work hard to be the hero," Riordan said.

With his innate athleticism and useful tips from experienced siblings, this Riordan sibling is ready for any challenge that may come along.

Written by freshman Julia Koulbitskaya